For me, it started back during Covid-19. Forays to the supermarket had to be quick but big, and I got into the habit of buying canned and dried goods - yes even toilet paper - in bulk, and storing it in a crate in my back bedroom. I was up to my eyeballs in baked beans, tins of tomatoes, sardines, spaghetti, and crackers. Oh, starvation because of a microscopic bug wasn’t going to happen in my household.

But have I turned into a hoarder? Food hoarding can manifest as stocking up on food at home or carrying food snacks around (hmm, not yet). The condition is often a coping mechanism, and could be connected to a past involving food insecurity. There can sometimes be a link between hoarding and impulse control – where you find it almost impossible to resist certain actions, such as buying items.

What I can’t get over now is the habit. I still have tins and packets in the back room – I have used up what was there, but keep on replacing it, it’s like I have some sort of siege mentality now. I can’t resist buying extra this and extra that, especially if it is on offer. And this is where I am a victim.

Supermarkets are so clever

They know all about bargains and product placement, and I keep falling for it. It’s probably got a name, but I think I might be the Ultimate Impulsive Shopper. I have a list for sure, but get side-tracked while cruising the aisles, and see things that I might need soon (throw some into the cart), something for a treat (oh yes, chocolate I definitely need), and end up with stuff for the back bedroom. If we get burglars they probably won’t get as far as stealing the TV or my jewellery, they will gorge themselves on chocolate chip cookies and nachos before getting out of the room and being discovered by me on the floor the next day, probably in a food coma.

Impulsive Purchasing

Supermarkets spur impulse buys of everything from sweet treats to hand sanitiser and magazines by displaying them at the checkout, where you, the customer, must stand in line. Checkouts boost sales so much that manufacturers pay big money to get retailers to place their products there.

And before you even get there, they have plans. Eye level is buy level. By placing key items in the middle of the shelving at (or just below) eye level is apparently a great way to boost sales. The only exception to this rule is for products aimed at children or toddlers, as their eye level is lower so they are more likely to notice products on bottom shelves.

Where the goodies are placed within your store has a huge influence on your buying habits. There’s a reason why most supermarkets display their fresh fruit and vegetables at the front of the store and a range of snacks at their checkouts. You may also have noticed that the big brands are placed in the centre of the shelves, while budget brands are generally placed on the bottom shelf.

Credits: envato elements;

Aisle ends or stands will place complementary products together based around an occasion, such as Easter or beer and charcoal for BBQ season. This is an easy opportunity to increase impulse purchases!

Putting essentials at the back of the store

Popular and essential food products, such as milk and bread, may be placed further back in the store so that you have to walk past a large number of other products to get there. This makes you more likely to pick up unnecessary stuff on your way through the shop and increase your average purchase.

Beat them at their own game

Supermarkets follow the general rule of the four ‘P’s - the four essential factors involved in marketing a product or service to the public - Product, Price, Place, and Promotion.

But you can beat this by having your own list of three ‘P’s - Planning (before you shop), Purchasing (at the best price), and Preparing meals that stretch your money.


Marilyn writes regularly for The Portugal News, and has lived in the Algarve for some years. A dog-lover, she has lived in Ireland, UK, Bermuda and the Isle of Man. 

Marilyn Sheridan