Are you a back-shelfer?


A basic but crafty little tip which many of us do but a huge number of us don’t par-take in is “back-shelfing”.
“What on earth?” I can hear you cry across the fibre cables of the internet “what on earth is she talking about?”

Back-shelfing is the simple process whereby once in a shop you take the item you want to purchase from the back of the shelf rather than the front. Supermarket employees put the newer stock to the rear of the display, so more often than not you’ll find a product with a longer life span at the back of the shelf compared to the one at the front.
With fresh food this can buy you an extra couple of days grace in the fridge. With tinned, frozen and non-perishables you can buy yourself months or even years with a spot of back-shelfing.

The same goes for beauty products. The likes of deodorants and hair spray at the front will have had the odd spray or two wafted around for free by another customer, so whilst it may only be mere pence worth of product up used up on this instance, over the years it could very well start adding up.

Not a back-shelfer? Become one today!


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  1. Yep, yep – massive advocate of back-shelfing. I get it from my mother – although her reasons for back-shelfing less to do with dates and more to do with the fact she thinks less people may have touched the product, or you know sometimes when something has been misplaced in the shops, well if they are put back it will probably be at the front right? (probably slightly OCD too). I back-shelf for the reasons you mention above. It’s totally about dates and you can clearly see products at the back have a longer shelf date. Sometimes it can be a good four or five days longer!

  2. As a supermarket employee back in the day, I used to hate people rummaging about and causing chaos with my stacking, but as a customer, I always use this technique – although I always try to keep the shelf looking neat once I’ve finished :)

  3. I think this practice has a downside though: what about the goods that have to be thrown away by the super market as we all are only taking the newest stock. I think if you know when you will eat the food or use the item a shelf-life beyond this is not necessary for you and you can happily pick a product that expires soon in case you know you eat it before. So I would suggest not to always take the item in the back of the shelf but only when the expiry date is not sufficient for you or when you don’t know when the product will be consumed.
    This will safe waste.

    • A Thrifty Mrs says:

      I totally agree that there are downsides to it – even more so if the majority of customers didn’t just blindly pick up the first thing on the shelf without any thought. The amount of people selecting from the front far and a way outweighs people even considering choosing from the back.
      I don’t use this method if I’m buying food for that day, for instance on Friday I bought food for that evening and opted for chicken which would be past best the next day and a very ripe avocado but if I’m doing a shop for a week or two or stocking up my larder, then I’ll be sure to get the most bang for my buck by opting for longer dates.
      I enjoyed your points and agree it was something I neglected to mention in my post, thanks for bringing it up!

    • Good point – but this is when the bargain cages come in handy and we force them to reduce the prices! *ha ha evil laugh*

  4. I get everything from the back of the shelf…..I always have! My fella thinks I’m crazy for it but it’s true it is fresher :)

  5. Oh this is genius! I will definitely have to do this when I pop to the supermarket later today!

  6. My mam taught me to do this and I get my housemates to do it too! And far more people take from the front, and people taking items from the back isn’t going to affect how much waste the supermarket produces, in fact it’ll probably save you yourself from making waste! xo

    • Agreed! I think that market waste has much more to do with the amounts they buy than how the shopper is selecting. Overstock gets sold to liquidation companies or donated usually. At least where I live.

  7. Have to admit i am guilty of being a back shelfer but not for everything though.

  8. Great tip as long as you need something to last that long. It works wonders on fresh food; but I think it’d be better to just buy as much as you need of the tins, so you save money on having millions of them in the back of the cupboard that you’ll probably never get to using :)

  9. From someone who used to work at Lush, it can add weeks to their products which is great considering that some of them go off very quickly! I love back-shelfing.
    Imogen’s Typewriter. <3

  10. I back-shelf all the time! It’s nice to know it’s actually a thing. :) Most of my friends and my boyfriend have made fun of me whenever they’ve seen me dig products from the back of the shelf. Maybe I’ll show them this and then we’ll see who’s laughing… 😉

  11. I think your blog has gone downhill – I used to check everyday for posts now will not bother at all – definitely not thrifty, imaginative and I do enjoy your writing so hoping the content imprves soon.

    • A Thrifty Mrs says:

      I’m sorry to hear you feel that way. Here’s the thing with blogs though, they ebb and flow with the lives of the writers. My blog has had ups and downs and certainly been a lot better, I agree.
      It was probably a lot better when it was my full time gig and I could dedicate more time to it and my content. However for now my life is different and it doesn’t allow for lots of time dedicated to creating posts. I have an FT job, I study and I’m renovating my home which all means my blog takes a back seat at the moment. I wish I had more time for it because I really enjoy blogging. I’m sure my blog will bounce back when I have more than 15 mins to spare per day but for now I’m pleased I’m able to blog at all!
      At the moment I’m throwing thousands of pounds into a money pit of a house so my life isn’t very thrifty at all and I don’t want to spend time and money just to create content on crafts and projects I can’t use in a house covered in brick dust.
      Thanks for your feedback and I’ll be sure to take it on board. I hope you stick around to hopefully see things turn around in the new year.

  12. Yep, yep, yep. Always back shelf, I think it’s a fab technique!

    Beauty Soup || UK Beauty Blog

  13. thanks for shared: )

  14. I’m a back-shelfer – it was the way I was raised! I had the conversation about the benefits of back-shelfing only this morning as I picked up some deodorant.

    Nat ||

  15. I thought everyone did this! I always do it when I’m shopping for the week, although the point raised by another commenter about not doing it if you don’t need to is very valid. I have to admit, though, that I only ever thought of doing it for fresh or packet food, not for tins or beauty products.

  16. I am definitely a backshelfer! I always have been! I don’t like the thought that loads of people have touched the front products and have messed with them, I even do this for makeup items, I open up the compartment and pick the back makeup item 😀 Makes me feel better if I do this…Do I have OCD?

  17. Self-confessed ‘backshelfer’ here too! When buying supermarket fruit & veg I always lift up the display boxes/crates to find the newer and fresher produce hiding underneath instead of taking from the top of the pile. I don’t often see other shoppers doing that but it’s well worth it as the difference in quality can be really significant. At the end of the day, the longer the dates, the less likely I am to chuck it out unused so that IS thrifty sense in my book!

  18. I am exactly that kind of girl and my boyfriend just keeps making fun of it:) But I simply got it from my mom…

    greetings, Sarah

  19. Always root through the fruit/veg to find the packet with the best date! It does make fresh food last longer.

  20. I do this all the time! Had a few funny looks from whoever I’m with at the time but as soon as I explain why I do it, they start doing it themselves!

  21. I’ve done this since my days as a teenager stacking shelves in a supermarket when I first learned of stock rotation. I always grab items from the back or bottom now and get those extra days of use!

  22. I always do this with eggs, there can be such a huge difference in the dates!

  23. Yup, my mother taught me the very same! :)

  24. Last week I visited a supermarket a little further from home than the one I usually visit. I was in the personal care aisle (shampoo, toothpaste, razors, etc.) looking at makeup products. A man was there testing out some spray deodorants. He sprayed the can a few times, and before I knew it he was spraying his entire body! I had my back turned to him when I heard him start doing long sprays, and when I turned around to see what he was doing he had pulled the garter of his trackpants forward so that he could spray himself ‘down there’. When he was done, he put the can back on the shelf and walked out of the supermarket! I’ve been back-shelfing for years and seeing this guy ain’t gonna stop me!

  25. Proud back and bottom shelfer!

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