Daily Dupaco

Friday, December 03, 2010

Holiday shoppers, be wary of these sales pitches

If you visited a mall or discount store last weekend, you might come to the conclusion that shoppers are just cavemen with better fitting outfits. The grabbing, the grunting, the dashing, the darting--you'd think we were fighting for survival, not the last pair of cashmere socks on the rack. Oddly enough, you're right on target, and so are retailers.

Here are several sales pitches aimed at tricking our hunter-and-gatherer brains (SmartMoney.com Nov. 10).

Spend $50 today; get $10 off later. This now-and-later technique is geared to bring you back into the store to see the newest merchandise and overspend your budget. Think twice before heading to checkout. Perhaps you can hold off on a few items until your next trip.

Limit two. This brings out the competitor in us all. If the store is setting limits, it must be a great deal. Or is it? Before scooping up one for Uncle Chuck and another for cousin Bill, compare to ensure it's really worth the asking price.

Five-hour-only sale. Yes, some retailers are aiming to scare you into buying. Limited-time sales are meant to move you now on the fear that all the bargains will be gone tomorrow. While this may be a great sale, it's clearly not the last and may not even be the best.

Get 23% off. What happened to "save 20%"? It became invisible. Odd numbers grab our attention, suggesting a bargain that has already been marked down. This is just an attention-getting device, so go ahead and give it your attention--then your scrutiny.

Save $150! Who doesn't want to save $150? By drawing our attention to the savings (rather than the price), a retailer creates the illusion that the actual price is more reasonable. So if you're shopping for a Blu-ray player and find one you like for $99, stick to your guns--even if you can save $60 on another model for $119.

This article was written by the Center for Personal Finance editors of the Home & Family Finance Resource Center
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