Ah, the holidays. Imagine yourself on a stroll through the mall on a chilly, mid-December Saturday. The twinkling displays, Bing Crosby singing carols, the scent of vanilla and cinnamon in the air… Is it really the most wonderful time of the year, or are retailers just messing with your mind?
To keep the charm in the season while keeping your finances fit, we wanted to let you know about some of the methods retailers use to entice you to spend when you might want to save. Keeping these retail strategies in mind will help you spend less and enjoy more holiday cheer in 2014.
- Limited time, limited quantity. This is probably the most widely exposed “secret” of the retail industry around the holidays. Retailers intentionally limit the initial production of a new product to make us do crazy things (Apple is notorious for this). This is called scarcity and retailers use it to make us want more, and make us believe that something is more popular than it is.
- The most wonderful time of the year. Retailers play into our sense of nostalgia to increase their sales. Yup, they don’t crank up the “Silent Night” because they like it. For retailers, your love of the holiday season is just a formula for increasing sales. For the unassuming shopper, the music and artificial scents of baking cookies wafting through the air stir up our happiest holiday memories and put us in the mood to give (and therefore buy) even more.
- Teaser sales. It’s happened to us all. The TV of your dreams is 75% off at a Black Friday sale. You show up at 12:07am only to find the two TVs in the whole store at that price have already been sold. But hey, since you’re there you might as well get a head start on gift shopping and, surprise, end up spending way more than you originally intended to.
Retailers rely on our lack of awareness of these tricks to get us to buy more and spend more every year. By simply being aware of tactics designed to whip you into a frenzy and manipulate your senses, you’ll be less likely to get distracted and only buy what you need to buy. Do enjoy the holiday spirit, but don’t lose sight of what makes this time of year so special (spoiler: it doesn’t go on sale at midnight on Black Friday).
How do you holiday-proof your budget? Share your money-saving tips in the comments below!