Grocers operate on comparatively slim profit margins -- just two percent, according to the Retail Owners Institute. However, markups are not consistent throughout the store. Of the many thousands of lines offered by the average supermarket, some will reflect a minimum markup -- or even a loss -- while others, such as high-end wines, chocolates and cosmetics, show significant increases on wholesale values. Competition in the sector is fierce, forcing many outlets to engage in discount pricing strategies.

Pile It High, Sell It Cheap

Supermarkets are a volume business that price goods according to the quantity of product they sell. Consumers typically benefit from significant markdowns on popular items through a variety of promotions, discount coupons, buy-one-get-one-free and "rollback" offers. Some items, known as loss-leaders, are sold at a loss to attract customers. The overall result is a markup of around 5 to 8 percent for staple goods.

Lap of Luxury

The grocer recoups his lost profit by charging a higher markup on non-essential and luxury items. Bottled water, for example, attracts a 4,000 percent markup, according to the "Daily Finance." Impulse buys, such as batteries and magazines, are priced to reflect the consumer's "desperation," attracting markups of up to 90 percent. Huge variations occur within the store. For example, deli cheeses and antipasto are marked up 50 to 100 percent, and can cost twice as much as than if you bought the same product pre-packaged or in a jar.

Pricey Produce

Foods with a short shelf-life risk having to be thrown away, and this high level of wastage hurts the supermarket's bottom line. Thus, perishables have some of the highest markups in the store. Produce -- particularly niche and highly seasonal produce such as berries -- enjoys a 50 to 75 percent markup, according to the Daily Finance. As well as having to be thrown away before it goes bad, 20 percent of fresh produce never even makes it to the shelves because of spoilage.

Costly Cigarettes

The markup for cigarettes depends on where you live. Some states set minimum price standards that require retailers and wholesalers to charge a minimum percentage markup for cigarette sales, with a view to increasing prices and thus reducing cigarette consumption. Massachusetts, for example, requires retailers to impose a minimum 25 percent markup. Arizona has no such law.