We all know it's happening, but that doesn't mean you should let your guard down: Stores want you to make impulse buys and spend more than you originally planned. Who doesn't realize candy, sodas and pop magazines are deliciously stacked right next the check out to entice you to spend just a little more before you leave. That's the easy trick to spot. Here's more. South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Attack the senses: If your mom said "Don't go to the grocery store hungry," she was onto something. Stores tend to turn your senses against you, subconsciously and continuously attacking your sense of smell and sight to get you to buy. Whether a grocery or department store, the smell of fried chicken, baked goods and hot-selling perfumes permeates certain aisles to get you thinking . . . of spending.
What to do: Eat before you arrive, have a list in hand and get in and out as fast as possible.
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Aisle designs: Of course the whole store is a giant maze engineered to get you to see as many products as you can before you can reach that tub of butter or roll of tube socks you were after. Keep in mind, the newest, highest-priced products will sit on eye-level shelving, possibly bathed in warm mood light, to grab your attention. They will be well-stocked. The older or lesser-priced goods will often be on shelves that are harder to get to, and don't expect those items to be as well-stocked. Also, be aware that the end of the aisle is a place where stores love to put new items, items for sale or popular items they want to sell more of because they know most shoppers stop at the end of the aisle to assess or to see what the big stack at the end of each aisle is all about.
What to do: If you want an older product, off-brand product or a cheaper product that is not in stock, do not compromise and buy the higher-priced, in-stock item. Ask a clerk or manager whether the item you want is in a back room waiting to be stocked or in another aisle. If not, ask to find the product at another nearby store. If you still can't get the lower-priced item, check a competitor.
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Shopping Cart Guerrilla Warfare: I used to think stores stacked shopping carts in the front of the store for shopper convenience. Actually, they might just want you to have a big bin to drop lots of items into, even if you didn't seek or shop for them originally. It's like the big dinner plate phenomenon: The bigger the plate, the more likely you are going to fill it up whether you're that hungry or not. Same thing with a big shopping cart.
What to do: Go for the smaller handheld carriers if you are not shopping for a lot and skip the shopping cart.
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Toys, electronics and other destination points: If you've ever shopped with a child, you know going in you're going to have to stop at the toy aisle at least once. That's why it's usually at the very back of the store, so you have to pass as many other products and items as possible as you trek there. The store hopes you'll impulse buy all the way there and back. Same with electronics, furniture and other high-profit items.
What to do: Bring a toy with you or have a new (cheap) one at the ready before you go in, taking your child's interest at visiting the toy aisle away, or at least diminishing it. If you have to travel to the back of the store, think about the trickery going on as you walk there and how the store hopes you're a shopping sucker. That should get you mad enough to grab your new electronic alarm clock and walk away as fast as possible. If you don't have that discipline gene, grab just enough cash to make your purchase and leave your credit/debit cards in the car, with a loved one or in a place you feel is safe. If you don't have the money to spend on something, you can't buy it.