Retailers have got loads of tricks to get you to spend money. What’s more, they employ those tactics every day on every customer that comes through the door, regardless of how little or how much that customer intends to spend in that store. From the lighting to the ambient music (or lack thereof,) everything about a store is meant to separate you from your cash. Even deep-discount stores who really go overboard to reassure customers that they’re trying to save you money have got an angle. As a consumer, it is upon you to be aware of that angle, and do everything you can to fight back and retain your earnings.
Discount stores’ primary means of doing business is relatively straightforward. Rather than selling you just one thing and expecting to make money, they focus on volume. As such, the stores are laid out in such a way that typical items that you might drop in for (like milk) are conveniently kept in the back of the store so that you walk past lots and lots of end caps with sale items to get to that one item you want. Now, I do have to add a little extra bit to that, because as it turns out, the location of milk in a grocery store is serendipitous. It’s location isn’t specifically meant to draw you to the back of the store, it’s closest to where the loading dock for the store is, so that the “chain of refrigeration” remains as unbroken as possible, extending the product’s shelf life. It’s just a bit of a happy accident that it’s located where it is, and don’t be fooled into thinking that stores don’t take advantage of that.
Another tactic beyond having “grab and go” items at the back of a store is using large-volume shopping carts. Smaller carts fill up quicker, and give you the idea that you’ve spent lots of money. On the other hand, large carts don’t fill up particularly quickly, and so you can put more in them without really realizing how much you’ve spent. Further, the idea of “shopping baskets” is another thing you may not see much outside of grocery stores. The reason for this? The heavier the basket, the less you’ll put in it. It takes less effort to push a shopping cart around, so you’re more likely to linger in the store and spend more money!
It’s all a mental game for discount stores, and savvy consumers are wise to be on top of their game as much as possible so as not to be taken advantage of. Be aware of sales on items that aren’t really sales, and buy-one-get one specials that aren’t as great a deal as they might seem. If you’re careful, you might just turn the table on discount stores, and actually get a great deal next time you go shopping!
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