We teamed up to create this list of 19 tricks retailers pull to get you to spend more. The sad thing is, we all independently thought of five and there was not one duplicate! Watch out for these tricks because they are everywhere.
UPDATE! Your tips pointed out an additional three ways retailers trick us to spend more (listed first).
- Final temptation. Racks with cheap goodies that are by no means necessary but a lot of fun test your resolve one last time as you wait in line to check out. Need batteries? Craving candy? Ron, who contributed this tip, says he falls for this trick at the electronic store Frys!
- 2-for-1 coupons. Discounts that can be had only when you buy multiples sucks in shoppers (read: me), but Ellie says this stipulation actually turns her off. She rarely buys more than one of an item at a time.
- Moving parts. Shari has noticed stores move merchandise. “I believe they go through this labor expense to keep us from getting too familiar with the way things are laid out and getting in and out quicker.”
- You can’t just have one. Once you put one thing in your cart, you are more likely to put in more. Yesterday I was at Staples and actually purchased something that was $2 that I knew was only $1 at the 99 Cent Only store next door. I chose to spend $2 instead of going to the 99 Cent Only store because I KNEW that I would buy more than that one item.
- Big carts. Stew Leonard’s (the Disneyland of dairy stores) in Danbury, Connecticut was the first store I ever saw that had HUGE carts. They were so big, that even when you put lots of stuff in them, it didn’t seem like a lot”¦ until you got to the check out.
- Samples. I always wonder why stores hand out samples because eating makes you less hungry (imagine that!). But of course, once you have a sample you want more”¦ especially for something that is sweet. The big box stores and Trader Joes both utilize samples.
- Advertised rebates that are so complicated that you never submit them. I purchased a hard drive for my computer at Frys. It had a great rebate offer. When I went to submit the offer, it was so complicated and wanted to know so much about my private information that I ended up not submitting it. Even when I read the fine print on this rebate, it did not disclose all this. The hard drive had already been installed and I wasn’t going to take it out.
- Changing units. Most grocery price tags shows unit prices. However, I often see similar brands use different units. For example, one kind of paper towels will be priced per sheet and the competitor brand will be priced per roll. You can’t do the math easily. Your best friend when grocery shopping is your calculator.
- Raising the original price. This is especially common online, where it is easy to change an item’s starting price. One site that sets prices high and then constantly discounts everything is Coldwater Creek. That doesn’t mean their clothes aren’t a good value (to you), it just means to ignore the percentage off numbers and focus in on the final price. Tonya says she has seen peanut butter that normally sells for $.99 skyrocket to $1.99 during a buy one get on free sale. Bailey said she has seen this happen, too!
- Loss leaders. Read the fine print or call ahead to check how many items the store is selling at that ridiculously delicious price. As in a price so low the store loses money, but the sale leads people into the store. If the store will only guarantee two or three at the advertised price, forget it.
- Complicated coupons. Reading the fine print is as fun as taking the SATs, so it’s no wonder we skip it. But some stores (Macys and Home Depot are two that immediately come to mind) make their coupons so complicated you don’t realize until you’re at the register that the $10 off $50 doesn’t apply.
- Hiding clearance. Ever tried to track down the day-old bread rack at your grocery store? Or find the clearance section at a clothing store? Unless you have blinders on, it is hard not to browse the full priced racks before exploring the more valuable clearance deals.
- Delayed rewards. Drugstores are particularly guilty of this one (hello, CVS!). Buy shampoo now, get reward later. In our minds, we are so organized that the possibility we will misplace or forget the reward later does not occur. Walgreens has the best reward program because at the end of your transaction the reward spits out and is immediately valid. At CVS, you get rewards every quarter and only when you remember to check your receipt for them.
- Name ploys. Store names are often created to repeatedly hound you with the message that the retailer has the best prices. Ever wonder why the electronics store in Chuck was called “Buy More”?
- Sales. Don’t buy something just because it’s on sale. Retailers love to promote sales with a sense of urgency – for a limited time only – to get you to spend. If you hadn’t budgeted for the item, you are not saving money, you are spending money. Sales can be tempting so avoid them unless you’ve planned the purchase.
- Bargain bins. At some stores, employees are paid to make fold shirts and sweaters neatly. At others, employees are paid to turn bargain bins into a mess. Retailers want to dupe you into thinking their deal is so amazing that lots of others bought the item (hence the mess). To avoid falling into this trap, always check and compare the price before purchasing. Just because it’s in a bargain bin it doesn’t mean it’s a good deal.
- Kids v. parents. I see this happen all the time when I’m waiting in the checkout line. Kids reach for the the candy, toy, or kid’s movie that is conveniently placed at their eye level. Then the parents put it back and the kid throws a tantrum. To avoid the stares and glares, they add to their cart and pay for the item.
- Friends and family as salespeople. Ever logged onto Facebook or Twitter and found ad-like posts and tweets? Don’t worry, you haven’t been hacked. It’s retailers trying to get to you through your friends. More and more companies are using social media to give customers, your friends and family discounts by having them check in, liking their pages or tweeting about the deal they received. (Ahem, BargainBabe.com have a Facebook page too.)
- Appealing design. Store design is planned so every detail will lure you in and keep you there. The more time you spend in a store, the more likely you are to buy. Think of IKEA’s maze-like layout. Bet you can’t get to the end without picking up something. I can’t. Grocery stores are also known for their design. All the basics like milk and veggies are in the perimeter of the store, and you must walk through the isles of booze, candy, magazines and refined foods to get to them.
What would you add to this list? Leave a comment and I’ll update the post!