15 Sneaky Retail Tricks That Make You Spend More (Stop Falling For Them!)

Like any other business out there, retail stores exist to take your money. You go in, you spend money, you get things, and everyone walks out happy. Where there is money to be made, there are tricks up their sleeves to get you to spend it. Here are some retail tricks that try to coerce you into spending more cash.

1. They’ll use gigantic sales signs
We’ll start out with one that’s fairly obvious. When stores put giant sales signs in their windows, it attracts your eyes. You’ll wonder what’s on sale exactly and go in to scope it out. There, you may buy something on sale or you may buy something at full price. Either way, they got you inside and made you spend money.

2. They put shopping carts at the entrance
At grocery stores this makes sense but at retail stores? Well there is a psychological reason. In the 1930’s, they started putting them near the entrace to inspire you to make larger purchases. You can’t buy a 50-inch TV if you don’t have anything to carry it in, right? You’re also less likely to buy a large, expensive item if you have to go find something or someone to carry it for you. Thus, they make it nice and easy to find transportation for your large purchases.

3. They put the high profit items in the front of the store
Have you ever walked into the grocery store and immediately seen things like baked goods, floral items, and stuff like that? There’s a reason. Bread and flowers make grocery stores the highest profits. They draw your eyes to these items because they smell and look good in hopes that you’ll buy them. Not all stores practice this but most grocery stores will. It’s all about putting your biggest money maker up front first!

4. They will put the essential items toward the back of the store
That way you have to walk through the entire store to get to them. That’s why milk, meat, cheese, and similar items all rest almost exclusively against the back wall. You have to walk down various aisles to get to them and to get back to the registers in the front. This exposes you to a bunch of the store’s inventory. It doesn’t take a study to know that if you look at enough stuff in a grocery store that you’ll probably buy something else other than what you came in to buy.

5. You are being conditioned to walk up and down all of the aisles
A study has shown that stores try to condition you to travel down all of the aisles so that you’ll continue doing it even after you get everything on your list. Each aisle has only a part of a meal in it. To get all of the meal, you have to travel down multiple aisles. Since no store has a standardized set up, you have to travel up and down all of the aisles to find all of the ingredients. Eventually you’ll start doing it out of force of habit even after you’ve completed your shopping list.

6. The most profitable items are put on eye-level
Looking up and down in every aisle the entire time you’re out shopping is something most people just don’t do. It’s about time you start even if it’s tedious and time consuming. Stores will put the more desirable and profitable items at eye level so that you’ll see them easier. This increases your chances of buying the more profitable items. They also do this at the eye level of kids so that they’ll try to talk you into buying even more things.

7. The sample stations are meant to slow you down
Sample stations give away free samples ostensibly to expose you to new products. That is actually true (and another trick stores use but you knew that one already) but it’s also meant to slow you down. If you’re rushing through a store to pick up a few things, some free food gets you to stop, stand still for a moment, and look around. This increases your chances of spotting something you want to buy.

8. They keep things in reach
Studies have shown that people who touch things are more likely to buy them than those who do not touch things. This is especially true in clothing stores. You put your hands no a shirt and feel the fabric. You may pick up something in a store to look at it. All these things help you make your decision to buy something. That’s why very few stores have things that are out of reach. If you can touch everything, that’s higher odds that you’ll buy at least some of it.

9. They play music to put you in the mood to have fun
People who are having fun are also spending money. That’s why stores will often play music inside of their stores. It puts you in a better mood (assuming you like the music) and encourages you to buy things. It’s an amazingly easy tactic to understand and pull off. Even grocery stores will play a radio station these days.

10. They put their stores in huge buildings to make you more comfortable
Crowded stores make people uncomfortable. It’s no fun trying to shop when you’re shoulder to shoulder with dozens of other people. Everything gets hot, it’s stifling, and you can’t really see everything. Thus, stores put their locations in huge buildings so that everyone can fit. It also lets them fit a larger inventory which improves the number of choices you have. That also happens to improve your chances of buying something.

11. Every single holiday is a huge sales event
Holidays are happy times. People are off of work, they’re having fun, and they may have gotten a bonus at work. That’s the kind of stuff that stores want to hear. They use holidays to create huge sales events so that they can take advantage of your good mood. We talked earlier about how happy people spend more money. Holidays make people happy and that means they’re primed to spend money. The sales are meant to get you and your happy self into the stores and spending that paycheck on discounted stuff and maybe some non-discounted stuff, too.

12. They use customer rewards cards
Lots of different places use these. Gas stations, restaurants, and retail stores all use this tactic. You may pick up a rewards card, swipe it at checkout, and you get points. Those points seem like a good idea but it’s really all a ploy. What they are really meant to do is inspire you to continue shopping at that one store chain. After all, if you spend all your money there, you’ll get rewards points which you can redeem for other stuff. As it turns out, by the time you get enough points for those nice things, you’ve already spent so much money that they’ve made a good profit off of you. We’re not saying they’re bad but you now know why they exist.

13. The domination effect is your enemy
Sources have said that people are actually more likely to spend $100 when they’re broken up in smaller bills ($1, $5, $10, and $20 bills) than if they were carrying a single $100 bill. The reason why things like magazines and candy are at the checkout lines are because they cost a dollar (sometimes less) or a little over that. When you’re forking out $0.75 for a candy bar, you don’t really feel like you’re spending any money. However, you likely won’t break a $20 to buy that candy bar. Stores know this and that’s why they only put these items at the checkout line. You’re going to spend money anyway so why not spend an extra buck? That’s a buck you probably wouldn’t have spent with a $20 in your pocket if you’d seen that candy somewhere else in the store.

14. They invented vani-sizing
Vani-sizing is a real thing that stores do. They make cloths bigger but put them in a smaller size. If you look here you’ll see that a size 36 pants (men’s) actually measures a 41 when you buy them at Old Navy. When you try on a size that you think is too small and then it magically fits, you feel good about yourself and you’re wildly more likely to buy that clothing item. Practically every retailer does it so if you measure a 40 and you fit into a 36, rest assured that 36 is actually a 40.

15. They put arbitrary limits on goods you wouldn’t buy that much of
You’ve seen this on coupons before and it’s usually phrased as “limit one per customer.” Sometimes in sales, stores will put limits on things to make them seem more appealing. You may go to buy a shirt, see that they’re discounted, and then see that the discounted rate has a “limit of five per customer.” Seems like a good deal so you buy five shirts right? Well, you only went in there to buy one. They win.

Retail stores aren’t evil for doing things like this (except maybe the vani-sizing). Like any business they need money.
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