When it comes to getting you to spend your hard-earned money, retailers can be sneaky. They play soothing music, use appealing colors and even place the bread and milk on opposites ends of the store in the hope that you’ll find all sorts of goodies in between the two! Most people are fully aware of these tricks and, as hard as it may be, try to avoid falling into their trap. However, these aren’t the only tactics that stores use. In fact, there’s a whole host of tricks that stores implement to try to get you to unconsciously spend more money. From bigger carts to messy displays, here are six traps to watch out for:
1. Extra-large carts
Although some grocery stores such as Safeway and Kroger give shoppers the option of a small cart, most stores opt for jumbo-sized carts. Generally, shoppers tend to stop shopping when their cart is full, so a bigger cart means you’ll keep throwing things in—or at least that’s their hope! Jumbo-sized carts also make it seem as though there is less merchandise in them than there really is. To avoid falling into this trap, choose one of the smaller carts (if available) or a hand basket.
2. Pairing complimentary items together
You may have seen the humorous meme circulating the Internet featuring a shelf of feminine products next to a large display of chocolate. Although most are not quite so obvious (or offensive!), this is a common tactic among retailers. If a store is featuring an endcap of cookie mixes, they’ll often add in a display of frostings, sprinkles, cute napkins and any other accessories that might get you thinking how cute those cookies would be if you purchased all those extra goodies, too! Although it can be hard to resist those perfectly paired items, stick to your list—your wallet will thank you.
3. A spot to rest
Whenever I’m shopping and I start to feel a bit weary, I always seem to find a nice spot to stop and rest. However, retailers don’t place those benches and ottomans throughout the store as a completely altruistic gesture. Those rest spots are actually strategically placed next to the products that stores are really pushing. They often feature small add-ons and fun accessories for you to check out while giving yourself a rest. If you must take a break from the hustle and bustle, look for a bench outside the store where you can put your feet up for a few.
4. Vanity sizing
We’ve all been there—you’ve been a size 6 for years, but you go into a new store to try on a few items and suddenly you’re a size 4! Chances are you didn’t lose weight but instead have found a retailer that vanity sizes. Although you may think it’s silly to mark clothes a size smaller than they really are, research has shown that vanity sizing actually does prompt consumers to spend more. However, if you dropped a size you probably would have noticed before you tried on that skirt, so don’t be fooled by a number. Instead, try on several sizes and only purchase items that look and feel good—no matter what size they’re marked.
5. False popularity
Have you ever been shopping online only to see “low quantity” flash across the item that you’re checking out? Or perhaps you place an item in your cart and the site alerts you that there are only five left in stock. These stock alerts are there to make you believe that those items are more popular than they may really be. After all, you don’t know exactly how many that retailer considers to be a “low quantity.” Other retailers will tell you how much of a product has sold to give a perceived sense of popularity, such as “over 1,000 sold” or maybe just a label of “top-seller.” All of these tactics are there to accomplish the same thing—to make you believe that the item is in-demand and that you need to buy it quickly before it disappears. Unless you’re shopping for an item that you know is hard to find, don’t let these labels convince you to buy.
6. Messy displays
When you come across a display that looks like a jumbled mess, you may think that the employees have been slacking off. But you may be surprised to learn that some of those messy displays are actually intentional! Many retailers are avoiding perfectly folded tables and polished racks, instead opting for more disheveled and disorganized displays. Their objective? To convince you that hoards of interested consumers have been rifling through those displays, leading you to believe that if you don’t get that item today, it may be gone next time you come in. Similar to tip #5, this trick exists to try to make you believe that an item is more sought after than it really is—but don’t fall for it. Instead, opt to place the item on hold and sleep on it. You may wake up to realize that you only had an interest in it because you thought everyone else did, too!