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See The Lousy Trick Grocery Stores Are Using to Fake Fully-Stocked Shelves

Shoppers are seeing right through it.
FACT CHECKED BY Amanda McDonald

How many times have you left the grocery without an item due to supply shortages? Well, grocery stores are also sick of seeing empty shelves and decided to trick shoppers into thinking supply shortages do not exist.

Related: Shoppers Are Seeing These 15 Shortages at Their Local ALDI and Trader Joe's

Supermarkets are using cardboard cutouts of fruits, vegetables and other grocery items to "fill" the gaps on their shelves, The Guardian reports. On social media, Tesco has been providing users with some laughs for using cardboard cutouts in place of asparagus, carrots, grapes, and oranges in the produce section.

In response, one Twitter user tweeted, "I love that asparagus grows to this size in the UK. It's our climate, I'm sure." Clearly, the cardboard cutout photos are not to scale.

Shoppers all across the UK have spotted these cardboard photos in grocery stores. The low produce availability is due to a shortage of truck drivers, pickers and packers of farm and food processing plants. Bryan Roberts, a retail analyst of Shopfloor Insights said that he has only seen the cardboard cutouts of grocery items this year, but similar tactics are found throughout the grocery store industry, according to The Guardian.

Additionally, stores like Tesco are trying to reduce food waste, so having these cardboard cutouts allow the store to keep inventory tighter and fill in the space with photographs.

In grocery stores, sometimes cardboard cutouts are used on the shelf in place of expensive items like laundry detergent, protein powders and alcohol to prevent shoplifting. When a shopper wants a particular item, an employee retrieves the item as opposed to keeping the shelves stocked. But regardless of the overarching reason, shoppers will always find it strange to see cardboard cutouts instead of an actual item on a grocery store shelf.

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Sarah Berman
Sarah is a graduate journalism student at Northwestern University and specializes in magazine writing. Read more