Shopping Tips

Your shopping methods will likely vary according to your mobility and travel skills, general health, and merchandise preferences. Here are some hints, tips, and techniques that can help make shopping more relaxed and enjoyable:

General Shopping Hints

  • Before leaving home, make a list of the items you need. See Reading and Writing for information about different methods to take notes and create shopping lists.
  • If you need only a few items, you can walk to the store and ask the store personnel for assistance. If you shop in the same store regularly, you may not always need assistance finding the necessary items.
  • Call ahead to the store with a list of items that you need. Grocery shopping can be done in this way, especially if you know the clerks at the grocery store and ask for their assistance at a time of day when the store is not too busy.
  • Hire someone to drive you to the store and help you find the needed items.
  • Shop with a friend or neighbor who is doing their shopping simultaneously.
  • Find a church or civic club volunteer who can occasionally set aside an hour or two to help you shop.
  • Ask a friend or neighbor to pick up a few items when he or she is out running errands.
  • Find an older adult program that occasionally sends a van or bus to a shopping center.
  • Arrange to shop with someone whose judgment you know and trust, especially for clothing, furniture, or decorative items.
  • Order items by telephone from a mail-order catalog.
  • Shop online for clothing and household items.
  • Many grocery chains now have websites allowing you to shop online and deliver your groceries directly to your front door.

Grocery Shopping

The following tips are usually helpful in most food shopping locations:

  • Pick up your perishable foods last.
  • In hot weather, use a cooler to transport perishable items home.
  • Extend the shelf life of your food purchases by selecting items at the rear of the shelf; foods with the shortest “use-by” dates are usually placed at the front.
  • Produce is often located near the store entrance.
  • Packaged baked goods are usually located near the dairy aisle.
  • Frozen foods are often located in freezer cases in the center of the store.
  • Fast-moving, high-demand items are usually located at eye level.
  • More expensive items are usually located near high-demand items and the store entrance to promote impulse buying.
  • If the store has a bakery, it is usually located in the rear or near the entrance.
  • Order groceries over the telephone or by using an Internet shopping service. Ask your local grocer for more information about these options. Some smaller grocery stores will deliver your purchases, but most do not.
  • You’ll also need to organize and label your groceries when you get them home. See Labeling and Marking for information about the different methods to identify and label your canned goods and other food items.

Shopping for Clothing

If you’ve always enjoyed shopping for clothing and keeping up-to-date with fashion trends, shopping for clothing can continue to be an enjoyable experience.

  • Discuss the latest trends and seasonal colors with family members and friends with similar tastes and interests. Try to have some ideas about your preferred colors and styles before going on a shopping trip.
  • Many large department stores now provide “Personal Shopper” services for their customers. A personal shopper can help you locate merchandise, read labels, and determine prices, adding a personal touch to the purchasing process. This service is usually free, although you should confirm this before making an appointment with a personal shopper.

Low Vision Tips

  • If you have low vision, a lightweight, compact magnifier with a built-in light can be helpful since the lighting in many stores is not sufficient for reading labels, price tags, and identifying money.
  • Using a hand-held magnifier, you can keep it in your pocket or hang it from a cord around your neck.
  • A small hand-held telescope can help spot aisle signs and reading prices.
  • You can also identify items in the grocery store by the overall color and label designs: for example, Campbell’s Soup cans have a distinctive design and red-and-white color.

See Low Vision Devices for more information about the full range of magnifiers, magnifying reading glasses, and hand-held telescopes that can help you with reading tasks if you have low vision.

Paying for Your Purchases: Organize Your Money

  • One way to organize your money is to separate your bills by denomination ($1.00, $5.00, $10.00, and $20.00), allowing you to identify bills independently when paying the store salesperson or clerk.
  • You can also use an adaptive wallet with separate compartments for each denomination or a bill-folding system to help you identify paper money.
  • When making a purchase, try to use bills closest to the sale amount, minimizing the change you’ll need to identify and sort.
  • Tell the store clerk or cashier which bill denominations you use as payment, and then ask the clerk to name each bill or coin denomination that is being returned to you. This can help you identify and sort the bills and coins you receive as a change.

See Money Identification for more information about bill and coin identification techniques and adaptive wallets.

See Using Bank Services and Credit Cards for information on using customer service, adapted checks, credit and debit cards, and additional money and banking strategies.

Carry Only One Bill Denomination

  • Another technique is to carry only one bill denomination (such as a $10.00 bill) and tell the clerk or cashier what bill or bills you are presenting as payment.
  • For example, you can say, “I am giving you two $10.00 bills,” which gives you control over the transaction and demonstrates that you are aware of the bills in your possession.

Additional Resources for Shopping

If you would like additional instruction in shopping techniques and skills, you can contact a Vision Rehabilitation Therapist or an Orientation and Mobility Specialist. See Vision Rehabilitation Services on this website for more information.

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