The Clever Reason Why Grocery Stores Change Their Layouts So Often

This is intentional.
This is intentional. / Andrew Olney/DigitalVision/Getty Images

Even if you’ve been going to the same grocery store for years, you might not always know exactly where everything is—and that’s because grocery stores are known to change their layouts. But why would a business intentionally confuse its loyal customers?

Basically, to get you to spend more time—and therefore more money—in the store.

As The Grocery Store Guy explains, rearranging things forces you to wander around, reading signs and scanning shelves for what you need. This increases the chances that you’ll end up filling your cart with eye-catching products that were never on your shopping list. Grocery stores have low profit margins in general, so staying in business involves subtly convincing patrons to buy more than they intended to.

The frequent reorganization also helps ensure that the right inventory is getting spotlighted. Maybe a certain batch of cookies is all set to expire soon and store managers want to sell them before they have to be tossed—or they put all their bestselling cookies at the very front of the store, because they know they’re hard to resist. Perhaps one kind of cookie has an especially high profit margin, so they decide to feature that one.

Switching up the layout is just one of many ways that grocery stores are secretly manipulating you. It’s not by accident, for example, that the dairy is often so far from the entrance: It guarantees that anyone quickly running in for a staple like milk, eggs, or butter will first pass by a bunch of other enticing foods. Placing the produce in the front and spraying it down with water are also calculated tactics. There’s even some clever psychology behind ending prices in .99.

[h/t The Grocery Store Guy]