How the Layouts of Grocery Stores are Secretly Designed to Make You Spend More Money

How the Layouts of Grocery Stores are Secretly Designed to Make You Spend More Money

So this topic probably doesn’t sound very
interesting, but I promise it’s at least somewhat interesting. Keep in mind that everything
I’m saying here is about the most efficient and profitable design of a grocery store so
don’t go complaining if your neighborhood Tesco or Safeway isn’t exactly the same,
but chances are next time you go to the grocery store you’ll notice at least some of these
principles at work. Let’s start with the entrance of the grocery store. Americans in
particular love shopping in a counter-clockwise path. For this reason, the door to grocery
stores will typically be on the right hand side in the United States and the checkout
counters will be on the left. In the UK, it’s often the opposite. For this reason, researchers
speculate that this tendency to move in one direction is linked to the side of the road
that the two demographics drive on. In one research study, Americans’ desire to move
in a counter-clockwise path in a grocery store was so great that they actually went around
physical barriers that researchers put up in the store in order to move in a counterclockwise
direction. This tendency actually works in stores’ favor as well. Research shows that
profits are higher in US grocery stores with an entrance to the right. It allows individuals
to be move in the path that they like and also exposes shoppers to the most amount of
merchandise possible. In fact, Americans spend on average $2 more
per trip when they move through a grocery store in a counter-clockwise pattern. This
may not seem like much, but when considering that every American goes to the grocery store
an average of 1.5 times per week, or 78 times a year, this amounts to enormous differences
in profits. The periphery of grocery store is also very
calculated. Items that are almost always purchased in a trip to the grocery store—milk, meat,
eggs—are spread out around the perimeter to force the shopper to be exposed to the
most merchandise possible. Shoppers will almost always need to go to these sections, so the
position of the milk, meat, and eggs dictates the way a shopper can move through the store.
Within the center isles, some retailers will put the most sold items in the center of the
isles to force the shopper to walk by even more merchandise. Looking at the cereal section,
we can see the principle of “eye level is buy level”. In the ideal circumstance, the
most profitable cereals are put at eye level. This often means that large brand name cereals
are put in these middle shelves. At a kid’s eye level, retailers will often put the sugary
kind of cereal that kids will pester their parents for. Often on the bottom levels are
the bulk price or generic brand cereals. Those who are being frivolous are usually willing
to look around for the best deals and often have clear intent to buy the product ahead
of time. It’s much more likely that individuals will impulsively buy brand name cereal than
bulk size generic cereal. On the top level is usually the healthy or small-brand cereal.
Usually those who are buying healthy cereal have clear intent to buy that cereal, and
profits are often lower on these cereals. Also a prime location for items that retailers
want to push is the endcaps—the ends of isles. Almost all shoppers will pass these
endcaps because of the perimeter pattern we discussed earlier. Interestingly, the liquor
store monopoly in Sweden uses this principle in reverse. The monopoly was created by the
government to promote moderation in alcohol consumption so one of the things they do to
prevent impulse purchases is not have any endcap displays.
So thats all the ways the layout of grocery stores is designed to manipulate you. Next
time you go to the grocery store look out for some of these retail principles and I’m
sure you’ll be able to spot at least some of them.


  1. Kroger changes out their produce weeks before it goes bad. They estimate that doing so brings back about 8% of customers consistently, a 9.6 million difference.

  2. Don"t forget, big brand name companies also pay big bucks to have their products placed where they want them

  3. Few things have been forgotten. The front caps have been forgotten. There is also the produce section that most stores have where you walk through it after you walk past the sale wall. It might be my store in particular that i work at because i haven't seen it any other store or haven't noticed is having pop, liquor, and water on sale over by produce on the opposite side of the first aisle.

  4. I thought that I gonna bought a dozen of egg but when I came out, the trolley was fully load with tons of things.

  5. This is actually a topic I'm very interested in, even though I've never designed a grocery store myself. Whenever I'm in a store, I'm always pointing out little things to whoever I'm with

  6. Vem får inte följa med in på Systemet?
    Hunden, Katten, Glassen!
    Hunden, Katten, Glassen!
    Hunden, Katten, Glassen!

    (You can't bring your cat dog or ice cream inside Systembolaget, just fyi :p)

  7. This is brilliant. I don't see how this would make anyone mad. It's using human psychology and habits to improve sales. Brilliant.

  8. In Switzerland right after the entrance comes the fresh vegetable section.
    The green and colourful display should give a positive mood.

  9. You can't just have meat and milk and eggs in the middle because on the other side of the meat counter is where the coolers and storage are. That's why they're along the

  10. I goto Coles in Melbourne. You are right, milk in these stores are kept in the opposite back corner from the entrance. Can't quickly get it to, without passing through a myriad of other promotional items.

  11. Walmart is the master of end cap displays, and the big, center-of-the-main-aisle displays. They put all the worst junk food in those locations.

  12. Canada is weird…. our door is usually in the middle , with the cashiers on the far left , and shelves wrapping around all the outer walls

  13. Also (and not sure if this is a thing in US or UK but definitely appears in Australia) chocolate bars are placed literally right next to the cashiers (next to the conveyor or the self-serve machine), because these are what kids pester parents for and, since it's right at the end, it's the hardest to ignore.

  14. the store i work at has a slimier design (the entrance and exit are reversed) and the electrical section is right next to the entrance to hopefully entice people to buy a sparkly chandelier, the grocery are all the way in the back of the store surrounded by hardware, and the mill work in the back corner on the opposite side of the entrance. ( i work at a hardware store)

  15. Some stores put the deli right inside front door so you smell and see food cooking when you first walk in to make you hungry. People buy more when they hungry. Always eat before going to store and have list and hand basket so you can't load more than you can carry. Only take cash and leave cards at home.

  16. I dont think we go counter clockwise around the perimeter, its always up one aisle then down the next. In 100% of all european supermarkets I have visited it leaves you at the end of your supermarket visit, walking up the last aisle and then having to walk down it again to the checkouts… Usually the last aisle consists of the more expensive products and cooled products, beer, desserts, yoghurt,, thirst quenching things.

  17. One thing overseen here is that fruits and vegetables are often near the supermarkets' entrance, to entice even those tho intend not to buy to come in and purchase.

    Music is also an important factor here. A friend of mine did his thesis on this and we has able to dictate the day's earnings using the playlist that he generated and the songs that he himself wrote.

  18. They use a maze design at stores in Canadian Checkouts more an more an I'm wondering if anyone know where this Idea came from? It feels like a rat maze an literally reminds me of the culling maze used for cattle not to mention they put certain products in the line that they no longer keep on the shelves. Canadian Tire an Dollarama an prime examples of this. Its not only insulting its ignorant an presumptuous on the part of large chain stores.I know why they do it but I personally don't enjoy being coerced into extra impulse purchases.But as long as people are not willing to think about they way as consumers we buy our product they will keep encouraging impulse shopping. An don't get me started on self checkout thats a whole other rant on its own lol

  19. Some stores have a long unbroken shelf that practically divides the store into two halves, with one side having the entry and the other the checkout, forcing a long detour around the obstacle if you only need something from one side and making it a pain in the ass if you forget something.
    Out of the shops I regularly visit, it affects two REWE stores and a Kaufland store (I live in Germany).
    At one REWE store, the drinks section (both alcoholic and non alcoholic) is near the checkouts and has a shortcut entry which I usually use if I don't need vegetables or dairy which are closer to the "regular" path.
    At the other REWE store, staff didn't ever complain if I enter at the checkout side (one of the counters has an extra wide aisle designed for wheelchairs and strollers)
    At the Kaufland store, there is one tiny gap near the entry/exit area, likely intended as a staff shortcut. It is barely wide enough for one shopping cart. This store is also very large, so the detours are quite extreme. The worst case would be trying to buy beverages and magazines, which are physically very close to each other but you have to walk through the entire store. It's more tolerable at the REWE stores since they are smaller. It's part of the reason why I hate that Kaufland store, I only go there when doing family groceries with my mother because she inexplicably likes that store. I prefer a nearby (500 m at most) Real store which has a simple Manhattan style grid layout which makes ways short and straightforward.

  20. Also to mention that stores rearrange items around to different aisles every few months. It may be because vendors don't want to pay more for premium space. Mainly because we have habits knowing where the items are located and skip much of the store. Moving things around, we're forced to look and explore the shelves.

  21. Given this is a two year old video, it has probably been pointed out that grocery stores actually sell "eye-level" displays to companies who want to sell more stock. Granted it's a symbiotic relationship between the grocer and supplier, but the supplier will lower the price in return for prioritised displays.

  22. If I am not mistaken – Brands pay fees to Retailers to have the product located at “premium” locations too?
    Ie, end-caps and eye-level shelves have a higher “rental” to Brands than bottom of shelf.

  23. Here in America our race tracks (people, animals, boats, etc) are in a counter clockwise fashion as well, long before cars were here.

  24. Designing a grocery store for optimized efficiency of the workers and consumers is the opposite of designing one for profit. This video is essentially an argument for planned economy.

  25. Bad idea for small families, rich or busy people, or geriatrics. They just want buy what they want and get the hell out! The price and impulse buying is irrelevant to them. Buying all you want quickly is of prime interest. And put the effing carts between the parking spaces. Put the handicapped spaces farthest from the store with the electric shopping carts or with an automated order/pickup station.

  26. it's not just the stores, it's the food companies. there's nothing wrong with advertising but the over marketing has gotten out of control. watch Food Inc, Hungry For Change, Got The Facts On Milk, and BBC specials The Men Who Made Us Fat and The Men Who Made Us Spend

  27. And did you notice as soon as you walk in the store all the candy and all the cakes and cookies I'm right in the front of the store

  28. “Most shoppers buy milk, meat and eggs each time they go to the store”
    What about vegans

    Btw I’m not vegan

  29. I really find the idea of the layouts being clockwise or counterclockwise to be bullshit.
    In the same shopping centre, I've seen the entrances on the left side and the right side for major grocery franchises.
    And outside of that, there are plenty of shopping centres where the door is in the middle. At least ,that's how it seems to work here in Australia. Maybe it's laid out in such a confusing matter in order to distract the emus?

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