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Despite Marketing Tactics, There are Ways to Shop and Save

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DURHAM — The trip to the grocery store can take a big bite out of your paycheck. Promotions, advertisements and discount cards promise more for less. But how do you make sure you walk out of the store with the most for your money?

You compare prices, cut coupons and list what you are planning to buy. But as you roll down the aisle, the deals look too good to pass up and your cart fills up fast.

"I have a bunch of free things in here, but I picked up a lot of extra things. Sometimes you come out ahead, sometimes you don't," says shopper Beth Robbins.

"I have to be careful. Sometimes I make a mistake as to what I'm supposed to get," says shopper Cal Knoveloch.

Three for two, two for one -- marketing can boggle the mind.

To help navigate the deals, Professor Nick Didow, an expert in consumer marketing, provides some insight.

Didow says manufacturers pay premium prices for the spaces at the ends of aisles. The spots are meant to catch your eye with hopes of boosting sales.

"In order to do that they provide some pretty attractive prices," he says.

On the shelves, eye-level placement is the hot spot.

"Items at eye level are items the store wants to call your attention to, but may not be the best buy or the brand we prefer," says Didow.

Big bags of snacks may not be better for your stomach or your wallet.

"You're literally going to eat more food," says Didow. "If you buy a large bag you're going to eat the entire bag by the end of the 11 o'clock news."

There are times when more is better. Dry goods, like trash bags, are something that you can stock up in your pantry and use as needed.

What does Didow have to say about those discount cards?

"I think it's good to have at least one, " he says. "They cost nothing. You could have one at every store where you shop."

As you scour the shelves for deals, the smallest signs can tell you the most. Look at the stickers that break down the price per unit.

"They show the price per ounce," explains Didow. "It's a way to determine the value you're getting by choosing the larger the size of the item."

So remember to compare prices, stick to your list, think before you grab the big bag, to save at the checkout.

Didow says the grocery business is very competitive. If you have a problem with a product or price, he suggests you talk to the store manager.


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