Save By Starting Your Shopping Trip From The Back Of Store

If you want to find the best deals and sale items, it’s wise to head directly to the back of the store and work your way up to the front.

Research shows that most people go to the right when they enter a store, so stuff with the best profit margins is usually placed there. Likewise, anything in a special display of any sort is not there because they’re trying to do you a solid and make it easier for you to get the item, it’s because it has a better margin. Nothing untoward about, just something to be aware of.

So then, to snag some savings, “…start your shopping at the back of the store and work your way to the front,” writes Investopedia. “You may find something similar to the higher priced goods that caught your eye at the front of the store for a lower price,”

Sneaky Strategies That Fuel Overspending [Investopedia]


Edit Your Comment

  1. smo0 says:

    The stores out here have their 10 items for 10 bux at the front, usually. But it’s mostly processed garbage….

    I do most of my shopping by sticking around the outer edge of the store (when it comes to food of course) regardless of cost.

    • CFinWV says:

      We have that, too. I call it the “Wall of Shame” since every item there is ridiculously over processed.

    • Draygonia says:

      They sell 10/10 gatorade at the store or hostess cakes and stuff… Not necessarily garbage :D

  2. NightSteel says:

    My local Fred Meyer does something like this. Back in the kitchen section of the store, there are all the pots and pans and various implements. EXCEPT the least expensive ones, which are in a tiny little section of the aisle with baking supplies. Recently, I needed a brownie pan and measuring cup. I went back to the kitchen section and found some, which were expensive, and just happened to walk through that other aisle on the way up to the front, which had the basic versions for about half the price. You better believe I switched..

    • one swell foop says:

      If you’re in portland, or, for baking things and restaurant supplies, try Rose’s Restaurant Supply at SE 3rd and Clay. They’ve always been happy to order oddly sized tart pans with removable bottoms or anything else I’ve needed. They have half sheet pans without the teflon lining(which are oddly hard to find) on the cheap compared to every where else that sells them, and many other things.

      Other than that…make a list, stick to it, and don’t buy processed crap!

  3. caradrake says:

    I’ve actually been saving money by staying out of grocery stories for the most part. Here in Florida it seems that we have a produce stand on every corner. The prices are anywhere from half to a quarter of what the grocery store charges ($.29 for a pound of bananas, compared to $.59 at Sweetbay, $.99 for a pound of tomatoes compared to 2.99, cucumbers are 3 for $1, compared to $.79 apiece, etc).

    The local butcher shop is also cheaper than grocery stores (their normal price is on par with Sweetbay’s sale prices). Freshly ground beef is $1.89, chicken breasts are $2.19, etc.

    By going to just these two places and Costco for bottled water – we have well water and no softener, so I’d dare you to drink red/brown water – we save a lot of money. There’s no temptation of “oooh, I see chips, I want chips!” We’ve also been eating a lot healthier.

    It also feels nice to be able to support the “little people.” Not to mention, I’ve lost 4 pounds in the last 2 weeks. Woot! :)

  4. goodfellow_puck says:

    My mother always did this, so I do the same. It’s where all the clearance and decent sale items are anyway. If it’s a department store, then I go to the back of the section I need. I never even look at displays since the prices make it a waste of time.

  5. Dyscord says:

    Given that the electronics section is in the back of our Wal-Mart, I don’t think that works too well there.

    The deli and meat section is at the back of our Shop n Save. Aside from the 5 for $20 that they always have going on, they’re pretty expensive.

    In fact, Shop n Save takes this idea and turns it on it’s head. All of the cheaper stuff is at the front of the store, when you first walk in.

    • Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

      The electronics department at my local Wallyworld was right in the middle of the store basically. Emphasis on “was” until they took it to the back to make way for a produce aisle (yeah, they turned it into a Supercentre) So now I guess that idea’s moot. Though that department’s now in the back, the bargain bin DVDs and shovelware Wii titles are still in the general area of the old electronics department (unless it’s been moved since the last time I was in there.)

  6. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    That’s a bit assinine. start from the edge with produce, meat, or bakery (however the store is designed) and move around the back, THEN move forward.

    Based on the article, sounds like a sharp left turn is your first move, which just so happens to be what I do every time to hit the produce.

  7. cash_da_pibble says:

    I think it depends on what store you’re visitng.
    Some stores have layouts that are solid and won’t move.
    But ultimately, the end of each one of these sections does contain the “clearance” endcaps or rows.

  8. sven.kirk says:

    I made a general map for my Kroger.
    I made a rule of no backtracking, to prevent me from saying ‘oh, i also need…’
    I just wish they made all the stores the same,so I don’t have to make and keep multiple maps.

  9. Outrun1986 says:

    I think its more important to decide what an item is worth to you when shopping. It should depend on if you need the item or not, not what profit the retailer is making on the item. This article seems to be stressing that the customer should be thinking about the retailer’s profit margin on each item instead of what their particular needs are. Also as we all know, buying the least expensive thing can also be a bad deal.

    I don’t know anyone who randomly loads the cart or basket up with items just to buy them because the items are placed in the right places in the store. Most people shop with a list and pick the things they need off the list.

    My advice stays the same, think about the item (inspect the item to determine quality if its something that quality applies to), think about the price you are being charged, and decide based on the item and the price of it if the item is worth it to you.

    Some stores you don’t have a choice where to go, when you enter the store there is only one way to go. Toys R Us in particular routes its customers through one doorway and one section of products before you even get to the main store. You would have to bypass this and then go straight to the back of the store.

    • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

      It’s a trolley, I say, not a basket.

    • selianth says:

      >>Most people shop with a list and pick the things they need off the list.

      It’s amazing how many people DON’T do this, and how much of a difference it can make. Back when hubby and I were first living together out of college, we would go to the grocery store cause we knew we needed one specific thing (usually “soda”), and end up trying to do a whole “big trip” to fill the pantry. We’d wander around, looking at the shelves, asking each other “Do we need peanut butter? I think we might. Let’s get some.” Then we’d get home and realize we had bought duplicates of a ton of stuff and the next day would have to go back to get a bunch of necessities we’d forgotten.

      Now we make a list and stick to it. Not only do we save a lot of money, we’re in and out of the store in a flash cause we don’t need to argue or think about what to buy.

  10. stewdizzle says:

    Vendors, manufacturers and suppliers pre-pay for just about every feature in most grocery and general merchandise stores including the ones in the back of the store. For example Proctor and Gamble will pay a store upfront to put Bounty on an end cap by the registers. The store makes money from the contract so It is in their best interest to execute. That doesn’t mean it is less of a deal for the customer, just that it is a better deal for the business. The same goes for sales and rewards cards. The vendor pays a certain amount for the item to be on sale so the actual store sees very little, if any decrease in margin on the sale items.

  11. NahWukkers says:

    I have a store pattern that takes me through dry goods, then frozen, then dairy, then produce. Very important to not squash produce, which I pack absolutely last, and handle myself. The checkout operators at our market aren’t that bad, but still not anal enough for me.

    • Elginista says:

      This is my pattern – I go straight to the back (dry goods, paper products), then work my way up to the front through frozen, dairy, meat, bakery and produce. That way the fragile produce winds up on top of other things. And I avoid the endcaps trying to sell me stuff I don’t want or need.

  12. Jesse says:

    This would work with grocery stores especially since perishable items are typically shelved in the back of the store (major reason being access to refrigeration equipment). One is less likely to roam the aisles when their milk is getting warm.

  13. pantheonoutcast says:

    If we’re talking about a *grocery* store, then simply make a list and stick to it. It makes no difference how the store is laid out if you buy only what’s on your list and then leave. I mean, sure there’s the occasional, “Oooh, Pop-Tarts!” moment, but self control is the best strategy of all.

    • Outrun1986 says:

      I make an exception for grocery stores, since you have to eat. As long as you are buying food that you will eat and not letting it go bad or just not eating it then I think its fine to do a little impulse buying at the grocery store. Note I said a little, that doesn’t mean bringing home the whole store. Also if you eat the same exact things every day its going to become very boring after a while so you have to mix it up a bit.

      A clothing store is different and so is a shopping mall, most likely you don’t have to have product x in there because you have a physical need for it. Even if you do have a physical need for clothing (like if you have an event to go to and you don’t even own a dress, or if your sneakers are wearing out and you only have one pair) you usually have more of a choice than with food.

      • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

        For me, the problem with that is that I might end up buying snack food type things, which I try not to eat. I only keep edemmame, grape tomatoes, etc… for snacks. Oreos would definitely win out if they were waiting for me in the pantry.

    • Genocidicbunny says:

      Where I work is so bad for this. People come in for some eggs of milk and leave with two full bags of stuff.

      Yes, I do work at Trader Joes.

      • Brunette Bookworm says:

        But, but, the frozen orange chicken is so tasty! And so are the gyoza! And the naan! And…and. Crap, now I want to go to Trader Joe’s. The closest one is over an hour away. I do go there sometimes for stuff. Trader Joe’s convienence foods are tastier than others and until recently it was hard to find naan around here.

  14. dreamfish says:

    The White Rabbit put on his spectacles. “Where shall I begin, please your Majesty?” he asked.

    “Begin at the beginning,” the King said gravely, “and go on till you come to the end: then stop.”

  15. Big Mama Pain says:

    Clothing stores are definitely like this-clearance items are always in the back

  16. Atsumi says:

    Something I want at the front of the store would likely be bought anyways when I made my rounds there. I’m probably the worst impulse buyer out there.

    (PS: I’m working on it.)

  17. KillerBee says:

    I’m not sure you can make the assumption that you’ll save money that way. Just because an item has a higher profit margin on it, doesn’t necessarily mean that it costs more or is a lesser value.

  18. andoman says:

    This is a great tip. Works ESPECIALLY well with clothing stores. Don’t even look at the front stuff until you are done looking at the back.

  19. Yoko Broke Up The Beatles says:

    Its true. The back of my local Wal-Mart is where the KISS cologne is reduced to $3/bottle. Apparently it once sold for $28/bottle.

    [Note: I did not buy it. KISS cologne? You gotta be kidding me.]

  20. Vandil says:

    My shopping advice:

    -memorize where the clearance racks/shelves are and always pay those a visit before proceeding to checkout.
    -be mindful of end caps. They are designed to seduce you, especially if it’s a junky item they want to pear down stock from. If you find something on an end cap that you like, go to the aisle where the product would normally be and see if there is a similar item for a lower price or a slightly better item for a small increase in price.
    -recognize the difference between Want and Need. Always buy the things you Need first, then, if there’s money left over for some ‘fun,’ get some things you Want.
    -you are in control. No one is forcing you to buy anything. Don’t be afraid to remove an item from your cart if you are having second thoughts.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      I actually really like the endcaps because at my local grocery store, the endcaps are overflow for the products that are on sale within the aisle. When canned beans have been completely raided, you can usually count on finding more at an endcap.

      • madanthony says:

        Target also uses some of their endcaps for clearance (usually the ones that face the wall/back). I’ve gotten some sweet deals on clearance stuff at Target.