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Caveat Emptor.
Misleading pricing and placement tactics in stores.
 


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Caveat Emptor

         While grocery shopping yesterday, I noticed a few new wrinkles in point-of-sale merchandising.

           Traditionally store stockers would rotate stock to place the older inventory towards the front of the shelf. Savvy customers learned to select an item from the back of the shelf to obtain the freshest commodity. Yesterday, I noticed that stockers are now placing the freshest inventory in the front. Perhaps this is to trick those who pull items from the back of the shelf or perhaps it is simply due to a stocker who failed to properly rotate inventory. Whatever the reason, please be certain to check date codes when purchasing perishables. Don't assume stock has been rotated.

          The long held notion that buying in quantity will garner the lowest price is no longer valid. While one pound of carrots was $1.39, the two-pound package was priced at $2.88. Obviously, it is less expensive to buy two one-pound packs! I saw the same trick used when I was comparing cans of tomato paste: a 8 ounce can priced at 25 cents, while the 16 ounce can of the same product was 54 cents. Peanuts: 10 ounces for 99 cents, 16 ounces of the same brand for $1.89.

          Finally, the most disturbing discovery I made was that some of the convenience signs this store posts to aid the customer in choosing the lowest per-unit price were clearly incorrect. For instance, a package selling for $2.98 contained 300 square feet tissue. The sign on the shelf stated the tissue was .06 cents per square foot. Just a mistake? That was the store managerís reply when I showed her the discrepancy. Probably the correct sign was not posted. But, then why were the price , the date code and the upc code all current and correct on the sign?

          I invite you to take a calculator to the store the next time you visit. If you find these "wrinkles" in your store, point them out to the general manager. Making a manager squirm adds a little excitement ot an otherwise routine experience . . .  and who knows?   Eventually, they might make fewer "mistakes"!

2002.05.12






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