Tricks of Trade: How Retailers Convince You to Spend More

Tricks of Trade: How Retailers Convince You to Spend More

Have you ever given yourself an out-loud pep talk while walking into Target trying to convince yourself to walk out with only the shampoo you’re there for? Or have you ever told yourself at the beginning of a meal at a fancy restaurant that you’ll splurge on an appetizer but will definitely say no to dessert? And then have you ever failed miserably in both of those or other similar scenarios? Don’t worry, we all have. 

Why? Because merchants have done their research and found ways to “encourage” consumers to buy more. But we’ve also done our research and are happy to reveal to you the ways you can avoid spending more than you bargained for.



Free is a word we all know and love, and retailers use this to their advantage. Even if you weren’t planning on buying that 6-foot cactus in December to go in your backyard in Chicago, you may just think it’s a good idea if it comes with a free Christmas ornament. You’ll find this to be a popular tactic especially with beauty purchases. How many of us have bought that $30 lipstick because it came with a 10-piece gift set?


Free Shipping

If online shopping is your thing, you’ll notice there aren’t a lot of places that offer free shipping with no minimum, but most stores offer a free shipping threshold. Meaning if you spend a certain amount, you’ll get free shipping on your whole order. For example, you’ve got $20 worth of items in your cart at and it will cost you $5.99 to ship. But if you spend $35 you get shipping for free. You think, “What the heck, Walmart sells everything and it wouldn’t hurt to stock up on paper towels.” So there you go spending an extra $15 to to save yourself $5.99 in shipping fees.



Ever wonder why random products are at the end of grocery store aisles? Well, they’re called “end caps” and they’re not so random. This high-end real estate is where stores place their highest grossing products. Because while we may try to avoid going down the soda aisle, we’ll most likely walk past the end of it where those adorable, tiny cans (also a sales tactic) of soda might be on display, enticing us to just put it in our cart already.


Bulk Purchases

Bulk does not always mean savings. Always double check the prices when stores boast savings on buying in multiples. We often see signs promoting sales like, “Get two for $10”. But take one extra look to make sure the regular price for one isn’t already $5.


Sensory Overload

Did you know that merchants will use subliminal techniques to get you in the mood to spend? Ever notice your favorite furniture store smells like leather or wood? That’s on purpose. Those aromas have been shown to make people spend more on luxury items. Does Forever 21 feel like a dance party every time you walk in? Upbeat music creates more sales per minute at stores that cater to a younger demographic.



Upscale restaurants know they’re expensive but still want you to spend, which means they will often highlight the extras like desserts and cocktails by putting a border around those sections. Many times the dollar sign before the price is also eliminated in hopes that you’ll forget those numbers are equivalent to dollars.



“Get 50% Off Today Only!” Does it ever seem like some stores have never-ending one-day sales? This is their way to get you to spend money quickly and without much thought. Start to take notice of which stores are guilty of this and you’ll soon realize that there’s no hurry to buy because another sale just like is right around the corner.



And speaking of food, providing a place to eat without customers having to leave the premises has also been successful for some chains. Think IKEA, Target, and Nordstrom. Before this trend, shoppers would leave when they were hungry, forcing them to call it quits on their shopping adventures. Now that they are being fed in the same location, they are given fuel to tackle round two of their spending spree.

What tricks have you spotted? Let us know in the comments below.

Related Articles:

Related coupons: