Special offers make us spend £1300 more per year

Special offers make us spend £1300 more per year

From BOGOFs to multi-buys, special offers in supermarkets tempt the majority of shoppers to spend 21% more than they intended to.

  • Supermarket offers encourage us to spend 21% more than we intend to
  • Yet when tested only 2% of us know how to identify the best deals
  • Having a shopping list at the supermarket saves you £200 per year

According to research from the Money Advice Service, more than three quarters of shoppers (76%) regularly spend more than they mean to on a food shop because they are enticed by special offers and deals – parting with an extra £11.14 on average per shop. With the average person now going to the supermarket more than twice a week, they could be forking out an additional £1,274 over the course of a year.

Yet because supermarket deals are often cleverly displayed and phrased, we don’t always work out if they are a good deal – for instance, by comparing the value of a single item versus an item in a multipack many shoppers could avoid falling into the trap of buying something on offer even when there is a better deal available.

To further illustrate this, the Money Advice Service asked more than 2,000 consumers to select the best value options when presented with four sets of offers commonly found in the supermarket. Just 2% correctly identified the best deals in all four cases.

After special offers, close to six in 10 (59%) shoppers say shopping on an empty stomach makes them spend more. These extra items falling into the trolley vary between the genders. Women tend to go for snacks such as chocolate or sweets (60% vs 51% of men) and baked goods (43% vs 35%) — whereas men are more likely to buy meat (26% vs 21% of women), alcohol (27% vs 17%) and ready meals (24% vs 19%). (Table 2)

Seeing a deal at the tills or shopping with children also results in the average shopper spending more.  Around a quarter (23%) of shoppers say they will pick something up at the till display – spending an additional £16.28 in the process on average. ‘Pester power’ also adds-up with a similar number of shoppers (26%) giving into their children and buying £15.50 worth of items each time they hit the shops to keep the children happy.

Shoppers in the UK can be susceptible to influence when walking through the supermarket, with only half (51%) of those who do the weekly shop managing to stick to a budget. Mental state also has a notable effect. Shopping when tired and bored will also result in the average shopper buying three additional items – spending up to £14.53 extra each time.

Preparation is the best way to guard against overspending. Those who always make a shopping list are three times less likely to overspend than those who don’t, spending close to £200 less on groceries over the year. Of those who make a shopping list or work out the meals they’re going to make before they go to the supermarket, most (61%) say it makes them feel more in control of their money.

When it comes to checking prices, look at the price per unit or compare the prices of similar weight products to make sure you are getting value for money. More than 10p of every £1 we spend goes on food, so being savvy with spending in this area will really be noticed.

John Penberthy-Smith, Customer Director for the Money Advice Service comments: “The problem is that quite often we see a special offer at the supermarket and we don’t want to miss out – so we throw it into our trolley without really thinking about whether it is a good deal or whether we actually need it.  

“Often deals can be difficult to understand and compare with other prices. Then there’s waste – even if the offers are cheaper, bigger packets or 50% extra are not always good value for money if we end up chucking most of it away.

“The best thing to do if you want to save cash is to write a shopping list and try to stick to it. You can also try shopping when you’ve just eaten and you’re not tired. Just remember, buying own brands and being savvy when it comes to tempting ‘offers’ will save you money in the long run.”

For more money saving tips to help you shop smarter visit the Money Advice Service website.