How supermarkets tempt us to spend more

Supermarkets are carefully laid out to part consumers with as much cash as possible. We explain the common tricks of the trade.

Member comments

Get access to comment

Jackie Clark
21 Mar 2022
Countdown app list

I use the list function in the app. It organises my list in aisle order, with the aisle number. The "locate item" function shows approximately where in the aisle an item is. I'm less likely to make impulse buys when I don't have to search the store trying to find things.

Brian L.
19 Mar 2022
Supermarket shopping

Don't buy from the end of the aisles. Ignore large signs. If you require a product look where it's located and check everything that's there. Supermarkets lie to you.

Reto C.
23 Jan 2022
Supermarkets do make errors, too

We bought some cherries at a NW in Christchurch last week, for a friend in MIQ - and were puzzled about the massive increase in price compared to the same brand and punnet size of cherries we bought the same week at a different NW (also in Christchurch) - but hey, it was for a lovely friend, and worth it!

On the way home (same day) we stopped at the NW closer to home to shop for different items, and we were amazed to see the same brand and amount (400gr punnet) at a much cheaper price.

Following a query to Foodstuffs South Island, I received a reply with an apology and that it was indeed a pricing error at the first NW store.

Cheryl C.
22 Jan 2022
Watch those manual weighs..

Watch when items are being weighed and the total price entered manually - it's possible for an operator to transpose numbers. Same with quantities entered manually - I paid for 4 x cauliflowers when I had only bought one. Always check that till strip!

Viviane V.
22 Jan 2022
One loaf

One loaf, two loaves. Correct spelling can be an indicator for well researched facts.

John B.
19 Mar 2022
Send time in idleness

Or they could have been a couple of lazy loafs hanging around wait to be picked up by a 2 for shopper.

Maria Conlon
22 Jan 2022
Specials that aren’t specials

What gets me is when you see “special” and I’m usually checking to see what it normally is or there’s some lie on the ticket that you’re saving 50c when the price underneath is the same on the special price. That’s effs me off

Richard John A.
09 Aug 2020
Take your time !

I consider myself a shrewd shopper. One item - that I love - is Griffin's Ginger Nuts. Normal price for a single pack about $2.79 but on special at 2 for $5 or sometimes even 2 for $4. A DOUBLE pack of the self same item retails at $3.99 and is often on special at $3.49. I wonder how many get "conned" by the supposed "specials" with regard to purchasing 2 single packets ? Crazy !
John A

Jacqui B.
23 Oct 2021
gingernuts ripoff

did you notice that the "double pack" is 2 x 200 grams and the single pack is 250 grams .. that's why you feel duped by our favourite biscuit ...

Peter I.
24 Jan 2022
At Jacqui B… That is absolutely untrue.

A double pack of Griffins Gingernuts is 500grams.

Jill L.
17 Jul 2020
Special tickets rippoff

I notice at my local Supervalue store they now have same coloured special tickets on items that are NOT discounted at all. Very annoying as you get used to looking for special prices for item on your list. I now read every one. Isn’t this false advertising???

Consumer staff
27 Jul 2020
Re: Special tickets rippoff

Hi Jill,

I can see from the mailer online ( that Supervalue are using a blue thumbs up for price promise, and a yellow light bulb for specials. I am not sure what colour the stickers are that you mention.

It is possible that people have been trained to think of at certain colour stickers with certain offers at Supervalue. If you think Supervalue are deliberately trying to confuse people with this, then it is possible it could be a breach of the Fair Trading Act, which you can report to the Commerce Commission using the Make A Complaint section on the top right of the home page at:

Kind regards,
Maggie - Consumer NZ staff

Barbara E.
12 Jul 2020
Online shopping

I regularly shop online and have asked for them to not bag anything. There is an option at the checkout screen to choose no bags - but the paper bag option is ticked by default. They just have everything in the trolley ready for pickup and I pack everything into containers that I keep in the boot of my car, so I have nothing to dispose of or recycle.

Madalene F.
07 Aug 2018
Other issues to watch for at the supermarket

If an item which isn't in the promo mailer as a special, but has been stickered instore for quick sale - usually because it is close to its use by date, be sure the original barcode has been struck through horizontally rather than vertically, otherwise you can end up paying the full price. Not all checkout operators know this and simply ran the item over the barcode reader. And always check your docket before leaving the supermarket carpark. Huge mistakes can happen, eg if the checkout operator inadvertantly puts their hand on the weighing plate. I was recently overcharged $11 on bulk figs when this happened. And also look out for double swipes of the same item. These are not necessarily deliberate actions, but can be expensive mistakes for you.

Maria Conlon
22 Jan 2022

I check all the time. And will comment and say if they are touching the scales. You might find this happens more in privately owned stores

John v.
04 Aug 2018
Delivery fees

In regards to the delivery fees that Countdown charges, good to know for consumers that you can buy a delivery saver for $69.00. This will last you three months, so comes to just over $5.00 each time based on one delivery per week. You can order as many times as you want in this period, as long as you spend $80.00 or more. Very convenient if you have forgotten a couple of items or you have unexpected guests arrive. This option obviously suits consumers that do online shopping all the time like us.

Michele M.
12 Jul 2020
Countdown Delivery Saver

I'm interested to note that you pointed this out in 2018 yet in a Consumer report on on online grocery ordering in 2020,it is still not mentioned about the Delivery Saver. Come on, Consumer: get your facts right.

04 Aug 2018
Incorrect pricing at the check-out

Always check your receipt before you leave the supermarket! Sometimes specials don't get updated at the checkout so you get charged the normal price instead of the discounted special price! Once you are home it is a significant hassle to try to resolve being overcharged.

Countdown have a policy of refunding the full purchase price of the first item purchased if it is incorrect at the check-out (note, you have to pay the incorrect price to get the full refund). While it is not great to be over-charged I think this is fair compensation for the inconvenience.

My local Pak 'n Save on the other hand will simply refund you the difference. This is extremely annoying as it takes about 10 minutes to resolve - not great if you are in a hurry - and all for the sake of small change (usually less than a dollar). It also gives Pak 'n Save little incentive to ensure they are charging correctly at the check-out, putting the burden onto the customer to see they are charged correctly. It got to the point where I was being overcharged on at least one item virtually every visit to Pak 'n Save. Thankfully it has improved but I wish they would adopt a similar policy of refunding the full price of the item to communicate that they take the issue seriously.

Robin & Anita S.
06 Aug 2018
I always check too

It is true that the sale prices are sometimes not updated, I wonder how many people don’t check and pay a higher price. I know it’s a hassle to get a few cents back but I hope it will mean they update the price so all those after me get a fair deal.

Russell H.
04 Aug 2018

Often the refill item is more expensive than the original. Be aware of refills being a smaller size i.e. Maccona refills for their 100gm bottles are only 90gm they are also more often than not more expensive.

Susan D.
04 Aug 2018
Online shopping

Super convenient but come in so many plastic bags, I asked if they could do a reusable bag swap system but they were NOT interested.

John v.
04 Aug 2018
Online shopping

Hi Susan

We also do our shopping online with Countdown. We request for our groceries to be packed in boxes and this is how we receive them every week. No more plastic bags!