This year, 140 million Americans are expected to shop on Thanksgiving and the days immediately following it, according to the National Retail Federation.
But in hoping to take advantage of Black Friday sales, will stores take advantage of shoppers?
From supermarkets to department stores, retailers are carefully engineered to get you to spend the most money possible.
If you want to beat retailers at their own game, then you’d better learn how they think.
This is an update of an article written by Alison Griswold.
Once you enter, there's the shopping cart. This invention was designed in the late 1930s to help customers make larger purchases more easily.
In supermarkets, high margin departments like floral and fresh baked goods are placed near the front door, so you encounter them when your cart is empty and your spirits are high.
Flowers and baked goods also sit near the front of stores because their appealing smell activates your salivary glands, making you more likely to purchase on impulse.
Supermarkets like to hide dairy products and other essentials on the back wall, forcing you to go through the whole store to reach them.
Once customers start walking through a store's maze of aisles, they are conditioned to walk up and down each one without deviating.
Most stores move customers from right to left. This, combined with the fact that America drives on the right, makes people more likely to purchase items on the right-hand side of the aisle.
Anything a store really wants customers to buy is placed at eye level. Particularly favoured items are highlighted at the ends of aisles.
There's also kid eye level. This is where stores place toys, games, sugary cereal, candy, and other items a kid will see and beg his parents to buy.
Stores also want items to be in easy reach. Research shows that touching items increases the chance of a purchase.
Colour affects shoppers, too. People are drawn into stores by warm hues like reds, oranges, and yellows, but once inside cool colours like blues and greens encourage them to spend more.
Hear that music? Studies show that slow music makes people shop leisurely and spend more. Loud music hurries them through the store and doesn't affect sales. Classical music encourages more expensive purchases.
Store size matters, too. In crowded places, people spend less time shopping, make fewer purchases (planned and impulsive), and feel less comfortable .
Stores not only entice you with sales, they also use limited-time offers to increase your sense of urgency in making a purchase.
The most profitable area of the store is the checkout line. Stores bank on customers succumbing to the candy and magazine racks while they wait.
Finally, there is the ubiquitous 'valued shopper' card. This card gives you an occasional deal in exchange for your customer loyalty and valuable personal data.
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