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8 tricks shops use to make you spend more

Retailers use all kinds of tricks to get you to spend more money with them. 

29 November 2016
3 minute read

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December is most retailers’ biggest month, and you’d better believe that they are going to capitalise on it. At the same time, you’ll be enjoying your holiday, planning family meals and buying presents if you celebrate Christmas – all of which means that you’ll be in a spending mood. Between you and the retailers, your wallet will soon be empty.

Wise up to the clever ways retailers persuade shoppers to spend more money.

1. Bulk savings that save you nothing “Buy bulk and save” is the mantra of the holiday shopper. Shoppers know that from toilet rolls to tins of tomato, the more they buy, the more they save. Unfortunately, retailers rely on this conviction, and often price bulk products higher than their regular counterparts. You think you’re getting a good deal – but if you do the maths you actually aren’t.

Top tip: Always shop with a calculator (there should be one on your phone) and calculate the cost per gram, millilitre, roll or can to make sure that you aren’t being had.

2. Bundled savings you don’t needSome retailers offer great savings on bundles of goods. You’ll get R10 off if you buy two packs of broccoli, or a pack of broccoli and a pack of asparagus or baby mealies. While the saving is real, it only works for you if the additional item is something you want and will use. It’s not a saving if the baby mealies rot in your fridge!

3. The .99 trick Rounding down a high-priced item by one cent is the oldest trick in the book. You know that R499.99 is really R500, but it just feels cheaper. You feel like you’re spending R400-ish, rather than R500-ish, making the purchase that much easier.

4. The loss leaderRetailers use a “loss leader” to get people into their stores. This is a well-advertised item that is priced so low that the store doesn’t making a profit, or may even make a loss. The idea is to get customers in the door. Since you’re there, you might as well pick up another couple of things that you need, right? While the loss leader product is undoubtedly a saving, don’t let it fool you into thinking that everything in the store is cheap. 

Top tip: Get to know the prices of the things you buy often and shop comparatively – don’t just assume that because one item is fantastically well-priced, the rest of the products are too.

5. The false bargain The false bargain is similar to a loss leader. Retailers market an extremely low-cost item to get customers through the door, but the item itself is of low quality. Since you’re there to buy the product anyway, but find that it doesn’t quite meet your needs, you start to consider the higher cost alternatives.

Top tip: Shop around and compare prices and quality at different stores.

6. Appealing displays Of course, stores will display their wares attractively to make them more appealing to customers. While there’s no harm in buying a pair of shorts that looked nice on the mannequin, don’t get sucked in and buy the umbrella, beach towel and picnic basket as well. If you came to buy shorts, than just buy shorts!

7. The “later” saving Stores advertise that if you spend R1 000, you’ll get R500 back. The assumption is that you’ll get R500 off the R1 000 you spend, so you search for items to help you reach your goal. When you get to the counter and everything’s been rung up, you discover that you’ll get a R500 voucher for the NEXT TIME you shop. Not only is your saving delayed, but you spent more than you otherwise would have to get it.

Top tip: Ask upfront if any terms and conditions apply!

8. Misleading discounts “Everything up to 50% off!” trumpets the window display. You’re drawn in by that big bold 50%, but the phrase “up to” can mean 1% or 50% or anything in between! Once you’re in, you might see that most items have only been reduced by 10% or 15%. You’re already in a buying mindset, and you spot all sorts of nice discounted things while you’re searching for that elusive “50% off” sticker.

Top tip: Always shop with specific items in mind. It’s only a saving if you were going to but the thing anyway.

The bottom lineRemember, retailers are out to make money. Nothing that’s reduced or appealing or on sale is a gift to you. Shop with a list and be aware of marketer’s tricks and you’ll save yourself a packet. Remember, the LESS you spend, the more you save.

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