Supermarket: beware of the “family size” trap


Who doesn’t jump for joy when their favorite product is on sale at the supermarket? Faced with galloping inflation, many are those who carefully research all the promotions in force before going shopping. A growing proportion of consumers even go so far as to change stores regularly to follow the most interesting offers.

Unfortunately, tempting promotions aren’t always what they seem! Indeed, Liberation reports a survey by the Foodwatch association dating from 2020 which speaks volumes. The unit price of certain products offered in packs at a “reduced” price would in fact be more expensive than buying them individually off-promotion. For example, the price per kilo of a Lustucru rice would increase by 22.8% between the package in the classic format and that flanked by a “family” label.

Some distributors also engage in other forms of promotion-related scams. The crossed-out price on the shelf, for example, does not always correspond to the original price, thus making it seem like a much more advantageous offer than it really is, as reported by Version Femina. Sometimes the price of certain items would even be more expensive at checkout after the promotion! In this case, it remains very realistic to think of an error on the part of the distributor rather than an intentional scam.

Indeed, distributors often adjust their prices downward to keep up with the competition. In this case, they may forget to lower the price of the lots on the way. However, another retail strategy is likely contributing to consumer scams. To attract customers, distributors lower the price of so-called “loss leader” products, in particular small formats, even if it means not making a margin on their sale. Large packaging products do not fall into this category, and are therefore the items on which supermarkets can still make a profit.