The Sneaking Selling Tricks

woman shoppingwoman shoppingBy Donna Fennessy

You arrived at the store with your circular, coupons and loyalty card, poised to buy the items on your list for as little as possible. Somehow, though, you walked back to your car with bags of stuff you maybe needed but kind of sort of didn't mean to buy, exactly. Plus, you spent way more than you intended. That's not surprising, given that companies lay out billions looking into new ways to entice you into purchasing things you weren't planning on, often impulsively and for more than they're worth. Photo by Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Getty

Happily, you can avoid falling for these ploys simply by being aware they exist, and by shopping more mindfully. Here are some common lures that stores-department, box, online, outlet and others-use, and tips on how to protect yourself. Attention, savvy shoppers: Get ready to save some cash!
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Tricky Tactic 1: The Incredible Shrinking Price

What It Is They call it periodic pricing: A store discounts items over time, crossing out the old price and writing the lower one on the tag. A sweater that starts at $100 might be marked down by 15% after a few weeks. In a month, it may be discounted another 10%. As the store needs space for next season's line, it may be discounted more. What's wrong with that?

The Psychological Ploy


You wind up with a sweater that may not really be worth what you're paying, but seems like a deal because of all the markdowns. These price reductions can be dangerous because they cause you to lose sight of what the product is really worth to you. Besides, it's easier to justify buying the sweater if it's "on sale," even if you didn't really need it in the first place.

How to Dodge This Bullet


Do a little online research beforehand to determine a fair price for that sweater, camera or whatever else. That way, you can spot an overpriced item that is marked down to a merely reasonable price, and decide whether you want it now or would rather wait until it is marked down even further, suggests Barbara E. Kahn, professor of marketing at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Tricky Tactic 2: Economy size and multiples

What It Is


Gigantic-size boxes and jugs at a "special price"; discounts on multiples, like 10 for $10 or two for the price of one.

The Psychological Ploy


You often assume you're getting more for your money with bulk items, but that isn't always true-the cost per unit may be the same or even higher as smaller packages. Plus, you buy more than you normally would. "The idea is, if the container is open, you'll use it," says Russ Winer, PhD, professor of marketing at the Stern School of Business at New York University. "Companies want you to form the habit of consuming more."

How to Dodge This Bullet

• Look at the unit price to see whether you're really scoring a deal. No matter what size the container, you're looking for the lowest price per unit.

• Buy only what you'll use before the expiration date. If it's going to go to waste, it's not a bargain.

• Ask a store manager, since not all "10 for $10" sales mean you have to purchase 10. In many cases, you can still pay a dollar each and buy only one or two.

Trick Tactic 3: Rebate, Cash-Back or Bounce-Back Coupons

What It Is


To nab a discount, you must pay full price, then send in a rebate form, a copy of the receipt and the bar code from the product. Cash-back and bounce-back offers require you to spend a certain amount in order to receive a coupon, which can be used on future purchases.
Related: Try 9 bad habits that are good for you.

The Psychological Ploy

You spend your money feeling good about the price after the rebate, but you probably won't mail it in. "About 70% of people never cash in their rebate," Dr. Winer says. "It's a lot of work." Cash-back and bounce-back offers part you from your money by luring you back to the store because you have "free money" to spend before the coupon expires. At that point you usually end up spending more than you have in rewards cash, often on stuff you didn't need to begin with.

How to Dodge This Bullet


• Be honest with yourself-if you're not likely to send in the rebate materials, then look at the real price, not the sale price.

• Note expiration dates for cash-back or coupon offers on your calendar so you don't forget about them.
• Don't spend more than the reward is worth, unless it's for an item you had been thinking about buying anyway, or are positive you will use.

Tricky Tactic 4: The You'll-Die-If-You-Don't-Get-It-Now Sale

What It Is


A short-term markdown (it may also be called a limited-time-only sale, doorbuster, clearance sale, closeout sale or daily deal, which is often found at online retailers).

The Psychological Ploy


"The store is playing on your fear of missing out," says marketing expert Pam Danziger, president of Unity Marketing in Stevens, PA. These sales make you panicky, so you buy without shopping around. But the big reason stores have them is to lure you in, where you're likely to spend on other things that aren't as much of a bargain. Even if they've run out of the item that's on sale, you've made the trip, the thinking goes, so you may as well look around. Daily deals work in a similar way for online retailers such as Groupon, LivingSocial and AmazonLocal. They advertise merchandise or services that are only available at the lower price for a day or two. This is profitable because many people fail to take advantage of the deals before they expire. "About 30% of daily deals are bought and never used," says Dr. Winer. And if you do redeem the deal, you still wind up in the store, tempted by products you don't need.
Related: Find 9 buys that are cheaper online.

How to Dodge This Bullet


• Avoid browsing by bringing your doorbuster item straight to the checkout--no wandering in the store. "The number of disciplined shoppers who buy just the intended on-sale item is extremely small," says Dr. Winer.

• Take a power pause and ask yourself whether you need what you're grabbing. Not sure? Put it on hold. You can always come back if it's on your mind a day later.

• Try to restrict daily deals to items you're already in the habit of using. Then mark a date to redeem the deal on your calendar.

Original article appeared on WomansDay.com .

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