Coronavirus and Your Money: Special Coverage

Supermarkets, restaurants, department stores and boutiques all use similar techniques to get customers to spend more.

Stores are all very carefully designed. Every aspect, from the music playing to where items are placed, is specifically chosen to prompt customers to spend more money.

To become a more savvy shopper and save some money next time you head to the mall, pay attention to these tricks that stores use to get you to spend more money:

They put a big, bold “sale” sign in the window.

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Stores use big, bold “sale” signs to bait shoppers and draw them into the store, even if they weren’t planning on going in.

They tell you it’s a “limited-time offer.”

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By stating an offer is limited or won’t last long, it prompts shoppers to act right away, causing them to buy things they weren’t necessarily planning on.

Source: US News

They greet you with big shopping carts.

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It’s easier to overspend when you can put everything in a big shopping cart instead of having to carry it all.

They put colorful produce at the front of the store.

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The bright colors of fresh produce tend to put people in a good mood, so they think more highly of the store and end up spending more.

They put baked goods and flowers at the front of the store.

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Having baked goods and flowers at the front of the store has the same effect that the produce does. All of the bright colors and good smells make shoppers happy, so they spend more because they’re in a good mood.

Calm music is strategically chosen.

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Playing calming music makes people slow down, even if they don’t realize it. They spend longer in the stores, and inevitably end up buying more.

Stores go for calm colors, too.

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Warm, calming colors invite people into stores and make them feel welcomed, putting them in a better mood and making them more willing to shop.

Dairy products and essentials are hidden at the back of the store.

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Milk and dairy products are very popular, so stores place them all the way in the back, forcing customers to make their way though the rest of the store and fill their carts with items they may have avoided otherwise.

Store layouts change as often as once a month.

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Again, by rearranging the store, companies force customers to wander through the store longer to find what they need, leading to customers buying more than they needed.

Stores are designed to move customers from right to left.

A customer pushes a shopping cart down and aisle at a Costco Wholesale Corp. store in San Antonio, Texas, U.S., on Wednesday, May 30, 2018. Costco Wholesale Corp. is releasing earnings figures on May 31. Photographer: Callaghan O'Hare/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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Because most people are right-handed, and Americans drive on the right side of the road, most people move through a store from right to left. Stores design displays in accordance with this.

Pricier items are at eye level.

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Stores place what they want you to buy right at eye level so that you have to see them and end up being more tempted to buy them.

Free samples tempt you to buy more.

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Free samples encourage shoppers to buy what they tasted, because people tend to feel guilty if they take free samples and don’t buy the product. It also opens shoppers up to trying things they otherwise wouldn’t have bought.

Small stores are designed to feel big.

Aisle of grocery store in Iowa.
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Bigger stores are more comfortable to shop in, so even smaller stores aim to feel spacious to encourage customers to spend more time in-store.

The checkout aisle is stocked with tempting items.

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Stores stock up the front of the store with candy, magazines, and other small products that prompt last-minute buys.

Some stores will have you download apps.

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Smartphone apps send a constant flood of notifications to people’s phones with special deals and alerts. They encourage people to shop online or in-store right away to get the best deals, even if they didn’t plan on shopping.

Other stores use email newsletters and subscriptions.

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Likewise, email notifications encourage people to go shopping as soon as possible so they can get the best deals.

Stores offer free shipping after you spend a certain amount.

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If you spend $35, but a store is offering free shipping if you spend $50 or more, most people will spend the extra $15 to avoid paying $5 of shipping.

Source: Cheatsheet

Items are marked as 99 cents instead of $1.

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Products are tagged at $1.99 instead of $2.00, because people tend to round down if they see the 99 cents.

Source: Fast Company

One-click ordering makes it easier to buy more.

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People tend to impulse-buy more when they don’t spend 10 minutes filling out their card info and thinking about what they’re buying, so with one-click ordering, it’s easier to spend without thinking.

Source: Cheatsheet

Stores offer guaranteed refunds and free returns.

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Returns and refunds take the risk out of buying, because if you don’t like the product, it can be returned for free and you’ll get your money back.

Store employees suggest products.

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If employees see you with a product, they’ll sometimes suggest a complementary product to go with it. And to be nice, many people will take the suggestions and end up buying more than they wanted to.

Some stores have overly friendly employees.

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Some employees are told to treat customers like family, because then customers feel guilty about walking away from the store without buying something.

Some high-end stores, on the other hand, purposefully have rude employees.

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At luxury stores, snobbish salespeople tend to make customers feel like they aren’t part of the exclusive group of people who shop there, making people more inclined to buy something so they can fit in.

Source: UBC News

They’ll play up the nostalgia factor.

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When people feel nostalgic, they value money less and are willing to spend more.

Source: Time

They use targeted ads.

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Ads on social media are targeted specifically towards you based on past purchases, drawing you back in and trying to prompt you to buy more similar products.

Stores offer bonuses for signing up for their credit cards.

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When you have a company credit card, not only do you feel more loyal to that store and inclined to go back, but you’re also encouraged to spend more money to get more rewards.

Stores send out coupons.

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Coupons encourage people to spend more money than they may have planned to initially, because they’re under the illusion that they’re getting a deal.

Source: The Penny Hoarder

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