Beware These 10 Retail Sales Tricks That Get You to Spend More

Think you're a savvy shopper? Find out how retailers persuade you to dig more deeply into your wallet.

Every time you walk into a mall, grocery store or big-box retailer, remember that it’s you against them.

Retailers, marketers, sales professionals and CEOs are determined to make you buy more than you planned. In addition, retailers have an arsenal of sales tactics that may seem silly but serve as heavy-duty artillery when it comes to persuading you to part ways with your money.

Following are 10 especially cagey tricks they may use.

1. Free-shipping offers

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Web retailers know that many of us have an aversion to paying shipping costs, so they often offer free-shipping deals. However, these may come with a catch: You have to spend $30, $50, $100 or some other amount to get the free shipping.

We’ve all spent precious time searching for extra items to add to our order to reach the amount needed for free shipping. Sometimes it makes sense to complete your $35 purchase and pay the $5 in shipping, rather than paying $15 or $20 for something you don’t need simply to get gratis delivery.

Looking for better ways to get free shipping? Check out “5 Ways Anyone Can Score Free Shipping for Online Purchases.”

2. Multiple-purchase pricing

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My go-to grocery store loves to run a 10-for-$10 promotion. Not only are the sale items a mere dollar each, you also get the 11th item free.

It’s awesomely cool for the grocery store when we load up on 11 items we don’t need. It’s even better when those items regularly sell for $1.09 anyway.

I’m not saying multiple-purchase pricing is always bad. It’s just that when we see four-for-$5 sales, we tend to buy four items even if we only need one.

For more ways to avoid wasting money at the grocery store, check out:

3. BOGO deals

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BOGOs — buy one, get one free sales — work similarly to multiple-purchase pricing. They entice you to buy more than you normally would.

If you’re already planning to purchase the second item, take the freebie. But if you justify the purchase of unneeded new shoes because of a BOGO ad, the marketers can pat themselves on the back for a job well-done.

4. Bundled purchases

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Another silly way retailers persuade us to buy more is by bundling purchases. So as part of a special sales bundle, you might get a printer and office software along with a laptop. If you need a printer and software, this could be a cheaper option than buying all three separately.

However, you might have a perfectly good printer at home, and maybe you only plan to use the laptop for Facebook and World of Warcraft. I could be wrong, but I don’t think you need Microsoft Excel for either of those things.

Why wouldn’t you want to buy $1,200 worth of computer gear for only $900? Because if all you need is a $700 laptop, you’re $200 poorer for no good reason.

5. Coupon savings

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I love coupons, so I can’t advise you never to use them. That said, coupons have a sneaky way of making you buy items you would never purchase at full price, or even sale price.

Bottom line: Coupons make it feel like you’re getting a deal even if you aren’t. Double-check and make sure the after-coupon price is in fact a bargain.

If you’re looking for a break on a specific item, check out sites like Coupons.com. Again, just be clear-headed about whether the deal on the coupon is really a bargain.

For more tips on getting great coupons, check out “7 Free Sources of Manufacturer Coupons You Can Find Online.”

6. Sales events

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The fact that a store declares a sale to be phenomenal does not necessarily mean that it is. You could walk into a store that has announced sale prices “as much as 70 percent off” and discover that everything except for one lonely rack is only 20 percent off.

It’s not false advertising either; the ad clearly includes the qualifier “as much as.”

Remain skeptical of sale claims, and don’t get caught up in the hype of a supposed once-in-a-lifetime deal.

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