Shoppers overspend by £30 on every supermarket visit

Rebecca Rutt
by Lovemoney Staff Rebecca Rutt on 22 November 2012  |  Comments 18 comments

The supermarkets are duping us into spending more, but we're partly to blame by not budgeting.

Shoppers overspend by £30 on every supermarket visit

Every time we go shopping for food at the supermarket we’re overspending by an average of almost £30.

Men are the number one culprits, overspending by £29.64 every time they head to the shops, while women are going over budget by £25.72, according to new research from YouGov.

The supermarkets are also laden with tricks to make us spend more, but we’re not making things any easier as one in three of us also never stick to a shopping list.

Supermarket overspending

Lack of preparation before we enter the shop is one of the main reasons behind us going over budget, and those aged over 55 are the least likely to stick to a budget.

Those aged 35–44 overspend the most, by around £35 on each shop, while those aged 18-24 overspend the least, going over by average of £21.32.

Although the study isn't the most scientific, it produces some interesting results, especially when it comes to our reluctance to use and stick to a shopping list. 

Married middle-aged men living in the Midlands with two children are likely to be the most frivolous at the supermarket. On the other end of the scale the savviest group are married women from Wales aged between 18-24.

Supermarket tricks

To make things worse, when we do head to the supermarket some of the discounts and deals on offer aren’t actually saving us money, according to separate research from Which?

It looked at the price of 115 different products at Asda, Ocado, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose and found that around 10% actually increased in price when they were offered as part of a multibuy.  

One example was a pack of four tins of Heinz soup for £2.99 or on a multibuy offer for 80p each.

Another product, a Goodfella’s Deep Pan Baked Pepperoni Pizza more than doubled in price when it was on a multibuy offer at Asda. Its price was around £1 normally, then when on offer it went to £4.50 for two, so £2.25 each.

How to avoid overspending

Our guide on how to save money on your food shopping is stacked full of ways to save money on food shopping, but the number one method to stop overspending is to make a budget and stick to it. Shopping online can help with this one as you won’t be tempted by offers you might spot.

Products placed on offer are generally placed at eye level on the ends of the aisles, or by the tills, to grab your attention. Most of the time, as the Which? study shows, these are not cheaper and it’s worth finding the individual item rather than going for one of these.

Never go to the supermarket hungry as the smells of fresh bread and rotisserie chicken will prove far too tempting, and always compare prices based on weight.

More on shopping:

How to slash your supermarket delivery costs!

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Aldi vs Tesco vs Waitrose: which supermarket wins on price and taste?

Which?: The four ways supermarkets con shoppers

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Comments (18)

  • Basia02a
    Love rating 49
    Basia02a said

    What rubbish - my overspend is around 0. My average supermarket Bill averages around £30, so if I stopped overspending it would cost me nothing? Where did they do the survey - Chelsea?

    Report on 23 November 2012  |  Love thisLove  2 loves
  • Ginnymay
    Love rating 39
    Ginnymay said

    Basia02a, I can only assume you must have an iron will or a very restricted budget. The only time I have come out of a supermarket with exactly the items I went in for was when I was a student on a very restricted income, and no credit card. I have to admit that, although I don't very often visit the supermarket (my other half does), when I do, I often see items on offer, items that look inviting, new things to try, and stuff I'd forgotten we were out of, and yes, I could easily spend £30, if not more, over what I went in for. But I'm not struggling to resist, to be honest. If I were, I wouldn't do it.

    Report on 23 November 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • contemplatean
    Love rating 1
    contemplatean said

    Ditto Basia02a.

    I throw away the vouchers for 'extra points for a spend of £20', as I tried once to spend that, & failed.

    If you have supermarkets near enough you can use them like the corner shop; but carry on you spendthrifts, we others will benefit as you keep the stores well stocked.

    We will keep on checking our receipts, 'cos we can add up; and also pick up 'the reduced for a quick sale', and other genuine bargains as we can price, ingredients and weight compare, which is all part of the 'game'.

    p.s. A £30 overspend; on what total?? The nation's consumers are obviously not all as hard up and pressured financially, the popular press would have us believe.

    Report on 23 November 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • mag52354
    Love rating 2
    mag52354 said

    Probably 2 main reasons the over 55's do not stick to either budget or list...

    a) we can remember the days BEFORE supermarkets when we had to know what we wanted and ask the assistant to get it off the shelf for us...

    i.e less impulsive urges as we couldn't see so much on offer.

    b) If you can't afford a "little of what you fancy" at that age, you never will be able to!

    We're always hearing about pensioners being virtually on the breadline;so let's live a little before we get there.

    I love the challenge of giving my brain a weekly workout trying to decide which pack is truly my best buy...and I adore the current

    "spend X no. pounds for a voucher off next weeks shop"

    as I then add up as I go round ...and endeavour to get it within the pound required to earn that voucher.

    Oh, by the way...I have no income and the government have decided I don't "need" any money off them for another 7 years,so I'm damn well going to enjoy spending my hard earned savings on my one vice...FOOD!

    Report on 23 November 2012  |  Love thisLove  1 love
  • muira
    Love rating 30
    muira said

    overspend by £30..00..!! i expect the whole weekly shop for that!!

    including cider/beer,,fuel in car,tyre wear,shoe leather..and a few quid change..

    invest in a freezer,,freeze the overspend items,don't forget they are in there,

    and next week do not buy same things again..if the symptons persist

    poke 1 eye out,put a patch over the other one,go shopping..if you find the overspend

    has not improved,and antibiotics don't help..then either send someone else,or

    ask the boss for a wage decrease..you are obviously incapable of managing a budget..

    this advice is also applicable for politicians to implement..

    and basia 02a..think you were close with chelsea..but suspect westminster personally..

    Report on 23 November 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • Meduza78
    Love rating 18
    Meduza78 said

    impossible. i spent only 18 or so on my supermarket visit today. (this comment is based on the title only, therefore if i am out of track, so is the title :D)

    Report on 23 November 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • finnol49
    Love rating 27
    finnol49 said

    Supermarkets have this nasty trick of moving the goods around so that you can't find what you want, spend more time in the shop and, therefore, money. When this happens, I buy what I can find quickly & leave as soon as I can.Yes, I do buy the special offers that give me money off my next shop & money off fuel, but avoid spending money on anything I would not otherwise buy.

    Report on 23 November 2012  |  Love thisLove  1 love
  • Meduza78
    Love rating 18
    Meduza78 said

    now, honestly: are we in the position to spent 30% more than we want to, in general?

    for me, when i spend one time more, it means i will go to the shop later next time than i normally would if i have bought less this time and bought less stuff. therefore this effect is cancelled out in a long run. a different thing is when people are tricked to buy what they do not need and they throw away food and other things instead of buying wisely.

    today i spent 2.99 extra for marinated small fish, just 200g, in morrisons. i think they were overpriced but i wanted to try it. one off buy.

    so in general, even if i spend more in a shop one time, it does not mean that i lost that much as it will allow me to have longer gap until the next shopping. or that i could have stocked some long shelf life goods and will not need to buy them for some time. buying 3 tins of chick peas for £1 is better than buying them by one at each visit, when they cost 79p. and you can bet that i make sure that i am getting better deal when buying in bulk.

    Report on 23 November 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • cee100
    Love rating 0
    cee100 said

    I budget £100 per week for a family of 3 plus 2 cats, its always way over that and I blame the pound shops, my partner is now drinking far more than he used to of carbonated drinks, something he told me to get myself rid of, which I have. I love pound shops because the food items are very competitive but its not necessarily the best choice of food items that is cheaper. Snacks, sweets and drinks but if you aren't watching your health its probably the best option as long as you don't go looking down the rest of the isles where you can be caught out.

    Report on 23 November 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • Mike10613
    Love rating 626
    Mike10613 said

    I bought oven chips from Asda last week for £1.60; they were £2.00 today. Rising prices are one reason we pay too much. I suspect they will be on roll back or 2 for £3.00 soon. I'm going to look at an Actifry (1/2 price) this weekend, then I won't need to buy them any more. All these buy one get one free offers discriminate against single people. Many elderly people live alone after losing their partners. Why do supermarkets discriminate against them? Do they hate elderly widows for some reason?

    Report on 23 November 2012  |  Love thisLove  1 love
  • cee100
    Love rating 0
    cee100 said

    Think twice about an actifry, I have one but need a spare middle part as mine snapped off, after just buying it I found a suitable alternative to oven chips via a friend who goes to Slimming world x

    Report on 23 November 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • Meduza78
    Love rating 18
    Meduza78 said

    re: discrimination... i felt the same today. i only buy food for myself and i wanted wild rocket for my smoked salmon sandwich. they sold two small packets of the herb for £1. but i only need half of it! they certainly want to get rid of the stuff, maybe they made a deal with a supplier which does not have many customers. "give it to us, we will sell it out!" i bought it, just because the ones i grow during the summer were finished. at least, the waste will go to the compost. a bit expensive compost material, i would say.

    Report on 23 November 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • amwell44
    Love rating 77
    amwell44 said

    Does the writer mean to say men overspend by some objective standard, or more than they intended to spend?

    I don't use a shopping list (except for things I must buy) or a budget and how can you know what you will find in the supermarket before you get there and what might be worth buying while you can, e.g. wine offer, or meat / poultry for freezer?

    Spending can be controlled by not going regularly every week, but staggering visits. I also think about what I'm tempted to buy and whether I want to pay the price. That way I avoid most expensive lines in Waitrose, but still benefit from good quality. I also visit different supermarkets and compare.

    Report on 24 November 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • electricblue
    Love rating 769
    electricblue said

    What a stupid and pointless survey. I never overspend and anything bought which I didn't plan for that trip would only be because it was dirt cheap in final reductions, so destined for the freezer; or an end of line product which I use anyway and which I could save a lot on over a year or so. I buy all winter products in Spring and Summer items in Autumn.

    I know many male bargain shoppers locally and with several superrmarkets in my town I have never lived so well or so cheaply. If you're lazy and not very savvy it can be hard to manage with shop prices, but there is so much cheap food around that if you can cook you can feed a family on very little.

    Report on 24 November 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • nomadicshopper
    Love rating 1
    nomadicshopper said

    If you have a voucher for £5 off if you spend more than £40, then there is 25% off all wine, and you have a voucher for £2.50 off a £10 spend in the Asian food section with really big discounts anyway, and you have other good value vouchers, of course you will overspend on that visit. But you will not need to visit again for some time and you will have saved yourself a lot of money.

    It would be a no-brainer not to take advantage of these vouchers and discounts

    Report on 30 November 2012  |  Love thisLove  1 love
  • Dampflok
    Love rating 24
    Dampflok said

    Heh! I never even spend £30 in the supermarket. £20 is pretty well my limit. ^_^

    Report on 30 November 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • easygoing
    Love rating 170
    easygoing said

    cee100 go for that Actifry, one of my best ever purchases. It does a heck of a lot more than make chips! It does a half decent roast potato without parboiling You can make 'wet' foods in it too! Oh and it is good for chestnuts.

    Mike10613 the agitator is its weakness and I did break mine but I had to drop it on the floor to do it, but in normal use it is fine.

    Report on 01 December 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • poguig
    Love rating 0
    poguig said

    "One example was a pack of four tins of Heinz soup for £2.99 or on a multibuy offer for 80p each"

    4 cans at 80p comes to £3.20

    Report on 03 December 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 loves

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