16 tricks stores use to make you spend more money

Shoppers shopping bags new yorkAndrew Burton/GettyStores employ various tricks that leave you with more bags and less cash.

From supermarkets to department stores, retailers employ clever techniques designed to get you to spend more.

Stores are carefully engineered, and every aspect of the design has a highly specific purpose — from the background music to the interior wall colour.

To become more of a savvy shopper — and to cut your bills substantially — start by recognising these subtle, yet common, store tricks.

This is an update of an article written by Gus Lubin and Alison Griswold.

Matt Cardy / Getty Images

They put a big, bold 'SALE' sign in the window.

Even if there are a few sales here and there, this is simply bait to get people in the store, where they are likely to buy non-sale items.

There's also a reason they're red: People react faster and more forcefully when they see the colour red.

Source: Shopify

Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

They play the 'limited-time offer' card.

Stores not only entice you with sales, but they also use limited-time offers to increase your sense of urgency in making a purchase.

Oftentimes, they're simply creating the illusion of an unbeatable sale -- while these items may be tempting to buy on the spot, you're better off putting the item on hold, thinking through the purchase, and making sure it's really worth opening your wallet for.

Source: U.S. News & World Report


They greet you with shopping carts.

Once you enter, there are inevitably going to be rows of shopping carts. This invention was designed in the late 1930s to help customers make larger purchases more easily. By greeting you with a nice big cart at your fingertips, the store is encouraging you to fill it.

The larger the cart, the more prone you are to spending more, so opt for the hand basket -- or even the old-school armful of purchases -- if you can.

Source: Idea Finder

Barry Brecheisen/Invision for Birchbox/AP Images

They place the pricier items at eye level.

Anything a store really wants customers to buy is placed at eye level so it's easiest to find, and particularly favoured items are highlighted at the end of aisles.

Look above and below for similar items with lower prices and fewer markups.

Source: POPSugar

Sean Gallup/Getty

The sample stations and other displays aren't just for show.

This trick not only slows you down and gets you to spend more time in the store, but it exposes you to new products. It also increases the odds that you'll buy that new product, as trying something for free makes you feel more obligated to buy it.

Source: POPSugar

Dan Dennison/Getty Images

They strategically choose colour schemes.

Stores draw customers in the store with warm hues like reds, oranges, and yellows, but once inside, cool colours like blues and greens encourage them to spend more.

Bellizzi et al. (1983).

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

They load the checkout aisle with tempting products.

The most profitable area of the store is the checkout line. By the time you've made the rounds through the grocery store, your self-control is effectively exhausted -- stores bank on you succumbing to the candy and magazine racks while waiting.

Source: Business Insider

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

They price things at $US0.99, rather than rounding up to an even price.

Tagging a product with 99 cents causes consumers to automatically round down. If an item is priced at $US1.99, we tend to think of the product as costing $US1 rather than $US2, making us more likely to purchase it.

Source: Fast Company

Scott Olson/Getty

They offer to guarantee your refund.

'If you're not satisfied with a product, you'll get your money back.' That's what many stores like to promise, implying that no matter what the customer does, they cannot lose. This removes scepticism about a purchase and any reluctance they many have felt to buy.

The catch is that companies tend to make it extremely difficult for customers to get your refund should anything happen, and most people choose to not even bother seeking it.

Source: Next Avenue via Business Insider

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.