How to Avoid Holiday Sales Traps

With Black Friday coming up, here are a few tips to make sure you don't get tricked into any sales traps.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Would you buy it at normal price? No? Then you aren't saving ANY money. Walk away.
  • If you would purchase at normal price, still ask yourself these questions: Do you really need it? How will you use it? Will it fabulously accomplish the task or just kinda work? Do you luuurve it? Where will it live? If you can answer all of these questions positively, then go for it. If not, step away from the junk.
  • Will the person you're buying it for really need it? Will they use it? Will it accomplish what they need it to? Will they love it? Do they have a place to put it? Yes, you should think about these things for others too. "Gift Guilt" is real and many of my clients have had it. If you're unsure what someone would want then ask. Or take them out for a lovely meal. Over time an experience means so much more in our memories than things ever do.

Practices to be aware of:

  • End caps. These are the displays at the end of the aisle. They are meant to catch your attention in the hopes you'll purchase whatever is there instead of what you really wanted. Before my advertising/public relations education, I thought they were just there to be helpful - think chips, dips and beer together during the Super Bowl. In reality, I now know they're usually paid for by the manufacturer to sell their product over someone else's.
  • Stands in aisles that aren't usually there? Used psychologically and specifically placed there for you to "bump" in to and hopefully purchase off of.
  • Read the fine print on offers. Whatever offer it is - BOGO, buy three for, etc. - do you need all of them? If so, fabulous. If  not, will you get a discount on just one? If not, it's still a discount because you aren't wasting money on what you don't need. See question number one.
  • Just because it's the "hot" new item that can't stay on shelves...well, sometimes that is created to create the desire that you'll then do anything to buy it. If you're a Mad Men fan, I'll remind you of the episode "Public Relations." (couldn't find the video -drats!) In it, Peggy decides to pay two women to fight over a Sugarberry Ham. People suddenly want Sugarberry Hams for Thanksgiving and the client is pleased. (Even if Don isn't.) They don't call it a "PR stunt" for nuthin.

And here's my "buy local" tip for the post. Buy from a locally owned store if it's possible. More of your money stays in the local economy and you're going to help a fellow member of your community directly. I could go on and on about the benefits of shopping locally but I'll save that for another time. This Saturday is "Small Business Saturday." If you want to take real action in supporting and building the economy, this is a way you can do it.

Everything goes on sale this time of year but sometimes the savings are only perceived. Look Sunshines, when you find something on sale that you would normally purchase, sales are fabulous. However, don't fall into the trap and spend money just because it's the holiday and it's on sale. That's what the manufacturers want you to do. Multiple studies have been done and researched to trick you into buying things you don't need.

You're better than that.