Holiday Shopping Gimmick Awareness

Holiday Shopping Gimmick Awareness

by Heather Quackenboss, Human Development and Relationship Educator, Extension La Crosse County

For many, December is a month of sales and shopping, and stores compete for your business. There are some classic gimmicks that can still snag consumers and we end up spending more than we had planned or anticipated.

Mandy Walker, in the December issue of Consumer Reports, writes about the four classic gimmicks that can trick us:

When a store opens early to offer a deep discount on popular products in limited quantities, it is a doorbuster. The first few people may get that promotional item, but the trick is to get customers into the store to look around and purchase the more expensive items.

Buy One Get One – BOGO
Big price reductions are exciting, but, we need to be cautious about what the buy one get one deal truly is. It may be buy one item get the next free, so we save 50%. But, it could also be buy one, get one for half off, and then we only save 25%. And if they are two items of different price, the full price is given for the more expensive item, and you may only save a small percentage. For any BOGO, be sure to check the deal and then the math.

Bait and Switch
Customers are “baited” by merchants who are advertising products or services at a low price, but when you visit the store, those advertised items or goods are not available or you are pressured to buy similar but higher priced items (the switch).

Going Out of Business Sales
With brick and mortar stores closing as we begin to shop more online, there are many going-out-of-business sales. It is important to note, that often, the business is not in charge of running the sale; they sell the products to third party liquidators who then hold the sale. Typically, the liquidators look at the manufacturer’s suggested retail price and use that as a starting price point, which is generally higher than what the store would charge. This way, the “sale” price starts higher than what the price of the item was before the sale began.

To be sure that you are getting the best deal, compare prices from different stores, ads, or online. Read the fine print for advertisements and look at the exclusions. Finally, have a shopping list or a plan, and stick to it. It can be easy to be caught up in the urgency of advertising and a sale, and our nervousness about not getting a good deal could override our plans. Don’t get busted by a doorbuster this holiday!  – Heather Quackenboss

Walker, M. (2018, December). When are sales too good to be true. Consumer Reports, 41-45.