Grocery Store
Food Layout
Psychology

Let's talk about grocery store food layout design and it's psychology.


Grocery stores build large fancy displays to draw your attention to new brands they are discounted to push, over priced foods or soon to expire food.


The video below shows well the science of grocery store layout.



You may not normally buy canned Spam­® when it's on the shelf in an aisle. But you are more likely to grab it when its part of a eye-catching and separate display. The stores count on it.


What to do: Look – but don't touch! You can admire the neat stacking of the artistic sculpture of the end cap, but don't let it draw you in. Stick to your list.


Expired And Over Handled Foods

Grocers place eye catching foods 10-15 feet from the main entrance too. Never buy here. Especially if it is produce and here's why. It is psychology of the grocery store food layout.


Produce, breads and meats are over handled by hundreds of shoppers everyday who grab, feel, and place them to their nose to smell, yuk. Often they will mix bruised or aging produce with fresh produce to sell it quick. 


The grocery store food layout of the produce section.
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If a food has an almost expired date stamped on it they mix it with dated food not soon to expire. So by the time you pick and choose in the entrance stand invariably you will pick up the older food too especially if you are buying two of an item. This is one way they sell old stock to you. 


If an entrance stands carry produce bypass it and go directly to the produce area.


If the entrance stand carry bread. Skip the stand and make your way to the bakery or bread aisle. You get the picture.


This cooler coffin is clever part of the grocery store food layout.
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Soon to expire dated food is placed in "coffins." These coffins resemble chest style freezers but without a top and much longer in length  Placed near the frozen or cooler sections so you can easily lean over and grab food.


Check the dates, always, always!


I was shopping yesterday when I saw a sale on soon to expire orange juice in bottles in a coffin. So I turned around to check the dates of the juice on the regular standing coolers. 


The dates of the orange juice in standing cooler where they would normally be found had much longer expiration dates. The coffin OJ was ready to expire in days.


A good rule of thumb is to only buy groceries from the shelves in aisles and places they normally would be. If they are in and end cap, coffin or special stand avoid them like the plague. Trust me on this one!


No worries the sale will be good for those foods on the shelves as well. 


Colorful Fun Yet Clever End Caps

When it comes to a strategic grocery store food layout, end caps, or end of aisle displays, are another tactic stores will use to get you to buy products they want to push on you.


Colorful signs will grab your attention and make you think that you are getting a good deal, but this is rarely the case.


These displays often have seasonal products or items that the store wants to sell quickly, but they are not always the best price. Often you can find better deals in the aisle.


Manufactures may have given the store a big price break on buying pallets of a food. Soda is a good example here. Remember stock up your food pantry only for the super low sales and only when you're running low.


What to do: Unless you want the specific brand being promoted, bypass the end cap display and check out comparable products on the regular shelves. I think I made my point here.


By doing a little price comparing, you can quickly find out if the appealing display is also an appealing sale.


Grocers Gold Mine (Not Yours)

The Checkout Aisle


Stores when planning a grocery store layout place incidental. sundry or  “impulse buys” cleverly at the checkout aisle.


Groceries and sundries like magazines, chewing gum, candy, soft drinks, or batteries at the checkouts so you can continue shopping even while you are waiting in line.


Studies have shown the checkout ares are one of the most profitable areas for grocery stores. Not for you to save on the family food budget.


This means that they are very successful at getting you to spend money on items that you really didn't need or want. It truly is all about the science of clever grocery store food layout.


What to do: Bring a package of gum, granola bar, or other snack from home so you are less likely to be tempted by these last-minute, higher priced impulse items.


Always choose the shortest line so your wait time is limited, but we do this anyway.


Upright coolers buy there versus a grocery store food layout using coffin coolers.
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The Perfect Pairing of Foods

Everything is better in pairs, right? Coffee and cookies, crackers with cheese, salad and croutons.


Stores know how much we like happy unions, so they will appeal to our 'romantic' side by placing matching products close to each other.


Yes, you will find crackers in their own aisle, but you will also see a few options placed by the cheese cooler.


What to do: Be the bad guy and split up the happy couple. If cookies or crackers aren't on your list, then just grab what you came for and leave the the other behind.


I hope this helped when you are shopping for grocery and sundries. Grocers are sharp when it comes to marketing and grocery store food layouts.


They have to be as their profit margins are the lowest in the industry. 


Your Next Steps


  1. Types of grocery stores.
  2. More wisdom on grocery store layout.
  3. Top of this grocery store food layout page.
  4. Grocery shopping tips for the savvy shopper.