10 Things Retailers Don't Want You To Know When Holiday Shopping

By Janice Lieberman for readersdigest.com

Why is it that we plan on just going to the mall to buy one specific item and we come home with lots more? I asked Marshall Cohen a retail analyst and author of "Buy Me" to take me shopping and tell me what the retailers don't want you to know!

1. They sell a lifestyle: Ever go into a teen and young adult store and the lighting is dim and the music is blaring? It's all part of getting to be invited to the "club." It's a scene and it entices you to buy what they are selling so you can be invited to the right parties.

PLUS: Read up on holiday tipping etiquette with 10 Tips For Tipping This Holiday Season

2. Got to show off your duds: What is a party without showing off your duds? Many dressing rooms are now communal. Both sexes share the rooms. You will need to come out of the dressing room to look in a mirror. Now other patrons check you out and may want to buy the same thing. More sales!

3. Product placement: Children's clothing stores are placing their merchandise at eye level for the kids. The parents might not even see what their children are pulling off racks. And every parent has a hard time saying "no" to his or her child. At Children's Place for example some of the clothing is almost hanging on the floor so that a toddler can find them.

PLUS: Give a free gift this holiday season with our 10 Printable Holiday Coupons

4. Educating the customer: Stores will post information about a product and not even list the price. They are "educating" you about the item. You are not being "sold" anything it's just a learning experience. Yeah right! So if we are stressed we know which candle or cream will alleviate it, if we have foot pain we know which pad or salve to purchase.

5. Smell it! Ever wonder why you are buying that pretzel or cinnamon bun when you thought you would stick to your diet or budget? The aroma that is placed not in the food court but rather smack dab in the middle of the retail shops is high priced real estate. It's a smell that permeates the area and gets you to take a snack break.

6. Package Deal: A smart retailer doesn't just feature a dress or blouse..instead they put the bag, necklace, shoes, jewelry and coat all together so that you buy the entire outfit instead of the one piece you "thought" you needed. Now they are even doing the for me who are not apt to buy accessories. The pants, shirt, belt, shoes and necklaces, watches are all featured together.

PLUS: Need last-minute inspiration? Check out our 16 Cheap and Easy Christmas Decorating Ideas

7. No heavy lifting. Enter some outlet malls or even the discounters and you will be offered shopping carts to tote your goods. Cohen says that if retailers know that if you have too much to carry and go to the car to drop off your purchases you probably wont come back. The stores want to keep you there so they make the schlepping easier on your back…not on your wallet.

8. No boundaries: Now retailers are using their window space to almost jump into the mall corridors. The Gap uses real life sized images on their windows to lure you into their store. No space is wasted getting inside. Signs boasting sales also stand outside the actual store to grab your attention.

9. Low inventory: Retailers don't always put out all their inventory. They want you to think it will be gone if you don't buy it right now. They used to pile it high. Now they make it look like they have limited amounts.

10. Multiple item sales: They sign multiple items as buy 4 for 2 dollars each trying to get you to buy four when you can buy one for 2 dollars anyway...Most customers will buy four.

Get More Holiday Tips from Reader's Digest:

11 Perfect Christmas Appetizers

5 Christmas Photo Card Templates

7 Last-Minute Christmas Centerpieces