How stores get you to spend more

By Jennie Bragg, producer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The average person will spend 15 hours shopping for gifts this holiday season, according to Consumer Reports.

And whether we like it, or even realize it, stores are filled with tricks and triggers to make consumers spend more.

Before you hit the mall, keep a few things in mind to be sure you don't get duped.

Early bird specials

Retailers across the country have been advertising early bird promotions for those shoppers who are ready to spend some cash even before Black Friday.

While shopping early might help you to score a good deal, in many cases there are limited quantities of advertised sale items.

"The thing that gets people about these specials is the idea that there is a limited quantity of something," suggests Britt Beemer, chairman of America's Research Group. "When shoppers see exact quantities of an item advertised or in the store, they are afraid it will run out and they buy right away."

Retailers usually get multiple shipments of popular items throughout the holiday season, so if you don't get what you need in round one, try again later or look for the item online.

And keep in mind, the prices on Black Friday and around Thanksgiving may be advertised as sales, but retailers have been know to jack up prices during this time and then lower them, leaving the price you pay higher than before.

Promotional mailings

You have probably already received a slew of holiday mailings from various department stores and other retailers, but promotional gift cards are the things that really bring in the shoppers and make them spend.

"We are seeing more and more gift cards sent to consumers without any strings attached," says Britt Beemer. "This could be a ten or twenty dollar gift card mailed to you for use on any purchase."

These types of cards are great for retailers.

Shoppers are lured into a store with the promise of a small discount and often end up spending much more than they ever anticipated.

Many shoppers are also enticed by the idea of buy one get one (BOGO).

Take a step back. Do you need two of this item? If not, walk away.

And remember, nothing in life is free. BOGO is the same as getting something on the sale rack. A promotion like this, while it is still a good deal, is likely giving you 50% off.

Scents and sounds

The ambiance a retailer sets through music and aroma affects your mood and in turn the purchases you make in that store.

"While scents don't always work to keep customers in general retail stores," says Beemer. "This is a technique that works really well in places like William Sonoma when they are cooking something."

And beware of the festive tunes in the background.

"If I were going to have a store, I would be more concerned about the music the customers are listening to than the scent in the room," suggests Beemer. "The Christmas music on in a store can keep people in a store 30% to 40% longer."

If you find yourself humming your way to the cash register, you might want to rethink your purchases.

Sales people and door greeters

Have you ever wondered why it seems like there are so many more sale people in every store around holiday time?

The more people around to tell you your purchase is an excellent decision, the better.

"The store with great customer service and people skills will be the store that makes the most sales," says Beemer. "It is very simple. Sales people who make customers feel like they are making a good decision will make more sales. To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Overnight Avg Rate Latest Change Last Week
30 yr fixed4.12%4.00%
15 yr fixed3.14%3.00%
5/1 ARM3.25%3.01%
30 yr refi4.17%4.06%
15 yr refi3.21%3.09%
Rate data provided
by Bankrate.com
View rates in your area
 
Find personalized rates:
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,773.43 -4.72 -0.03%
Nasdaq 4,758.32 9.92 0.21%
S&P 500 2,064.97 3.74 0.18%
Treasuries 2.18 -0.02 -1.13%
Data as of 12:59pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 17.58 0.05 0.29%
Apple Inc 112.22 -0.43 -0.38%
General Electric Co 25.18 0.04 0.14%
Microsoft Corp 47.76 0.24 0.51%
Intel Corp 36.42 -0.60 -1.62%
Data as of 12:44pm ET

Sections

Treasury sold its remaining shares Friday in Ally Financial, it's last remaining major stake from the $426 billion bailout of banks and the U.S. auto industry. More

Investors beware: These 5 global crises are likely to rattle the stock market and world economy. More

By backing down from showing "The Interview,"Sony has set a dangerous precedent. Hackers now have a blueprint for hurting American companies. More

Unilever sued Hampton Creek over its egg-free mayonnaise spread Just Mayo. But the company behind Best Foods and Hellman's mayonnaise has now dropped the lawsuit. More

Payday lenders are spending millions of dollars in Washington in an attempt to get powerful politicians on their side as a government crackdown on the industry heats up. More

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.