Even the savviest shopper can be tricked into buying things they don’t need or want. Get to know the inside tricks of the trade with these 14 sneaky tactics retailers use to try and get you to spend more in store.
1. The ‘closing down’ sale
The closing down sale preys on your impulsive nature. What better way to do that than by advertising a closing down sale, where you feel as if you’re taking advantage of a short term offer that won’t be around for long.
There are many stores that have been threatening to close down for years now. It generates a sense of urgency as you don’t want to miss out. But are you getting a better deal?
2. Outlet stores aren’t as good a deal as you think
Outlet stores can be a great way to save some money on designer brands. However, many manufacturers and retailers have worked out it’s actually cheaper to make lower quality products specifically for these stores.
It means that designer handbag that’s cut-price in the outlet store may not be the same one sold in the designer shop. Many products in the outlet stores are made using cheaper materials, subpar stitching and lower overall quality. If it is the real thing, then it’s probably there because it didn’t sell well in store.
3. Annoyingly spaced escalators
Multi-level department stores like a large John Lewis and M&S use widely spaced escalators to encourage you to see more of the store, and hopefully buy more.
If that wasn’t enough the most popular and best-selling brands are placed furthest away from the escalators. This way you’re exposed to the most number of items.
4. The right turn
“Retail shopping studies have found that most people turn right when they enter a store. That’s because the majority of the population is right-handed and right-orientated,” says Paco Underhill, author of Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping.
That’s why shops highlight those new, full-price trends to the right of the entrance. Displays and mannequins are also right there in front of you to tempt you to buy the most expensive items in the store.
5. Queues and impulsive shopping
Chocolates, knick-knacks and jewellery all compete for your attention when you’re queuing up. You’re encouraged to pick up and examine the low price items on the racks as you stand bored and easily distracted in the queue. The minute you do that, the battle for your wallet is half-won.
6. The sale rail
Why isn’t the sale rail neatly displayed with size, price and all the same products together?
After the struggle to find the sales rail purposely placed inconveniently at the back of the store, you’ll discover a mish-mash of colours and random clothing items. It’s often purposely like this to create frustration and tempt you instead to the lovely organised pretty displays for the non-sale, and higher value items in the rest of the shop.
However, customers can be wary of clothes rails and tables looking too untouched. An unfolded jumper here, and a misplaced hanger there gives the impression that customers have rifled through the clothes instead of neat, uninteresting piles that are easy to ignore.
7. The red rag to a bull
For some weird evolutionary reason, the male brain responds positively to a red price tag. A study by boffins at Oxford showed that men were twice as likely to believe that they were saving money when shown a red price tag as a black and white one.
8. Lights up, lights down
The right lighting can have a massive effect on sales. Ever wondered why many multi-level department stores don’t have windows? It’s so you don’t get distracted by outside lighting.
Light changes outside, like a sunset for example might make you realise the constraints of time and hurry you up.
Stores create their own artificial lighting for different products, using only flattering lighting on the merchandise. For example, fruit and veg are usually displayed under bright, focussed lights to make their colours appear more vibrant – while lingerie section lighting is often soft and understated (to convey a sense of discretion and class).
9. Common scents
We’re led by our senses when we shop, and powerful smells will often trigger strong emotional responses and help increase sales.
You’ll notice supermarket bakeries frequently pump out the smell of freshly baked bread in order to make shoppers feel hungry. And now the high street is catching on to the power of strong scents, too.
For example we associate the aroma of leather with luxury and class – and when we smell it in posh designer shops, there is some evidence that it encourages spending amongst shoppers. Similarly, some stores use baby powder fragrances in children’s clothes departments to help create an emotional connection with the customer.
10. Bigger baskets
The size of shopping baskets and trolleys has increased over the past few years, so that you keep piling stuff into it. This makes it easier for you to rack up a huge bill without quite realising why. (Think about the size of those never ending baskets in Primark!)
11. Music to your ears
Listening to the right music in the right settings can also influence sales. Music is a great mood enhancer and many studies have concluded that when music was playing, impulse buys increased.
Music matched to the type of store is important. Big department stores might play slower instrumental music to relax shoppers and make them spend more time in store.
Christmas music has also been proven to increase sales by 17% compared when generic music is played. Jingle bells really does make your purse jingle.
12. The power of three
Shop displays like to use the power of three to increase sales. For example an electrical store might display three TV screens to grab your attention. They will place the most expensive option in the centre where your eye is drawn and the budget option to one side.
Triangular shelves are also commonly used – with dearer products at eye level and budget products out of view on the bottom shelf.
13. Floor plans
Different types of flooring are often used to subtly steer customers around the store and direct them to promotions and certain displays. (Anyone who’s been to Ikea will know how long it takes to get out to the exit!)
Some stores use carpet patterns, laminate flooring or even arrows to guide you straight to the centre, or to the main displays.
14. Mirror Mirror
Trying before you buy can be make or break when deciding on a purchase, but sneaky high street stores have a trick to turn things more in their favour.
Changing room lighting can be manipulated to make us look fresher and more tanned. A recent experiment showed we spend 19% more if we think we look better in that dressing room mirror.
We hope you found this article on sneaky high street tricks useful. Now you know these savvy secrets you can use your knowledge to avoid the crafty tricks and shop within your budget. Our very simple advice: Make a list. Stick to it!