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December 11, 2008


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I have a list prepared ahead of time (I also track what I've bought in the past), use a basket, and try to get in and out as fast as I can. If I shop at the same grocery store, I figure out exactly where everything is. The faster I shop, the less likely I am going to stop and think about something not on my list. Seems to work out financially and keeps me on a stricter diet.

Although, I probably go so fast that I missed out on the opportunity to socialize and meet the next Mrs. Craig sifting through oranges.

Forget the cart size. Don't shop when you're hungry. At least that works for me both in the financial and caloric world. If I go shopping when I'm hungry more will be bought and subsequently consumed.

A few more:

1) Put a pint of ice cream in the cart first so that it gives you a time limit to finish shopping before you have a creamy puddle under your cart.

2) Don't shop at Whole Foods.

This actually comes straight from research by some great psychologists. We know that

1) Small carts are better than big carts (reason being is that things actually "look like less" in big carts, and we have the urge to fill it up, since that's the unit: one shopping cart. Same reason we eat less from a smaller cup or plate).

2) Shopping full is better than shopping hungry (your body starts paying attention to all the food stimuli, your cognitively loaded so you evaluate salient stimuli like deliciousness as more important).

3) Make a list (people with a list stick to the list and spend far, far less, because every time you go "off list" it feels like a splurge").

4) Start at the back and move forward (this minimizes the amount of time you are exposed to each product, so you don't keep having to fight temptation).

There are a huge number of these...I'll try to wrap them up and explain them in a blog post soon.

Sure as heck works at Costco.

It's WAY too easy to keep throwing stuff in that cart when all I did was go in for cheese and diapers.

I agree with Craig and a - use a list and don't shop when you're hungry. I go a step further and make my weekly menu/shopping list based on the local grocery stores' weekly sales advertised in their circulars. When walking around the grocery store, I inevitably see one or two extra very-much-needed items I forgot about. Having a basket doesn't prevent me from picking those up. It just puts extra strain on my back and arms!

I agree with all those suggestions. I do feel that I get less when I grab a basket or small cart rather than a large cart at the grocery store. I may still buy impulse items, but the extra weight does make me think before anything more into a basket.

When I go to places like Target, I usually grab a basket or nothing (just my arms) because then I'm more likely to get just those items that I came there for...

30% is a huge difference and should be very noticeable. I really doubt people unconsciously buy 30% more stuff just cause their cart is big. I wonder if this claim is based on the fact that people with big carts are buying more stuff simply cause if you're buying more stuff you need a bigger cart?

I don't doubt there may be some difference in the amount you buy with a big cart but 30% just seems way too much IMHO.


I agree with FMF, people with big carts buy more than people with small carts or baskets, most likely because they intended to buy more in the 1st place. I only grab a cart if i'm doing some major shopping. Now, to save money at the store.... leave the kids at home! :)

Stats gone bad. FMF and Jim are right and Parade Magazine is trying to find causation where there probably is none (or at least, as Jim said, not 30% worth).

If there is a causation involved here it's the reverse. People use carts because they're buying a lot of stuff-- they don't buy a lot of stuff because they use carts. It's amazing to me that the author wasn't able to see something so obvious.

Unless there's something else in the article saying they somehow controlled for the reverse causation then this is really, really sloppy analysis and reporting. If you are not intelligent about statistics then you have no business using them in a report. People like this give my line of work a bad name.

And buying a minivan increases fertility....

I could see that as a mental factor, but not sure if that matters. It's more about just knowing what you need, and sticking to it. I think people spend more when they go out with just a credit card and rely on that. When they have cash or a set range they would like to spend in they are less likely to overspend.

I think there is some correlation, just as satiety is partially linked to portion size (that is, how much people need to eat before they feel full depends on how big a serving they get).

Baskets are inconvenient. Anything that makes shopping inconvenient is probably a good thing.

This is definitely true at the grocery store for me. I grab a basket instead of a cart if I know I only want to buy a couple things.

Since whenever I'm shopping I have to physically carry it home, I never use a shopping trolley, but always a basket. However, I am likely to buy more if I pick up a basket rather than just use two hands. This only applies because I don't stick to a list. If you do, then it's irrelevant. But most people don't, so most people probably buy more with a larger receptacle.

I disagree with Christy, but it probably depends on how old your kids are. When I go into the grocery store with my 18 month old, I know I have to move quick because she'll only sit nice for a short amount of time. That means I am lucky to even get my whole list and almost never have a chance to ponder extras. Carrying a basket is not an option with her either. Still not ready to rent the carts with the little tv's in them.

However, leaving the wife at home definitely saves me money and time! She prefers to go down every aisle and not look at the list until the end to see if she missed anything. Our compromise is that she makes the list and I do the shopping.

I'm not sure about the 30% number, but I know that when I worked retail we were required to walk around and offer people shopping carts because they do buy more with a cart.

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