When you go Christmas shopping, do you find you come home with more things for yourself, rather than the gifts you intended to buy? Well, I’m here to tell you, it’s not your fault. The reason: Shoppers are bombarded by tricks worthy of a magician.

Here’s 12 of the tricks that shops use:

  1. They use large sales signs (in red). These attract your eye and encourage you to check it out. More often than not, you buy something other than what they have on sale.
  2. They treat you like a close friend. They will tell stories about themselves that will put you at ease so you’ll trust their advice to buy more.
  3. They sell you a reusable bag, featuring the store’s logo. This provide free advertising for the store, but mainly the bags create a void that need to be filled, encouraging you to buy more than you need.
  4. They give you a place to put your feet up. These rest areas are often placed next to displays of products that stores want to unload.
  5. They offer comparatively pricey luxury items. The “compromise price effect” is most often used by discount retailers and electronics stores that want customers to pay extra for a better camera or computer. They put more expensive items next to slightly cheaper – but very similar item which customers buy thinking they got a good deal.
  6. They price everything one cent short of a whole number. This is called the “left-digit effect”. It’s completely psychological, but the difference of one cent can turn a window shopper into an actual shopper.
  7. They play music to put you in the mood to have fun. When you’re having fun, you’re more likely to get in the mood to spend money.
  8. They offer free shipping. Even retail pros fall for this: Free shipping is rarely offered without strings. Instead, stores set a threshold for each purchase, encouraging you to buy more. And they move that threshold depending on demand.
  9. They use cheap items to get you through the door. Beware of half-priced socks, chocolates or bags of tea lights positioned next to the entrance of shops. They are designed to break a psychological barrier and get you shopping.
  10. They turn deal-hunting into a game. Some shops and department stores make you dig around and see what’s on sale. This makes people feel like they’re on a treasure hunt and finding a bargain that someone else missed.
  11. They pile on the accessories. Batteries not included, accessories for dolls and toys, cases for phones and tablets. There will always be “just one more thing”.
  12. They make clothes bigger but put a smaller size on it. When you try on a size that you think is too small and then it magically fits, you feel good about yourself and you are wildly more likely to buy that clothing item.


The 4 rules to avoid falling for them

So be aware of these tricks and you’ll be able to stick to your budget this Christmas. Also for those who want to be doubling sure not to overspend, there are some rules of what not to do when shopping. Here they are:

  1. Don’t bring your kids with you as you’ll spend up to 30% more
  2. Don’t shop with your partner as you’ll encourage each other to spend more
  3. Don’t use a shopping cart as you’ll spend less when you’re carrying goods
  4. Try to use cash to pay (in large bills) as you’ll be less likely to hand it over

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