1. In posh shops it’s about establishing relationships
We all hate bored shop assistants who seem more interested in what’s going on under their nails than our desire to purchase. But shops which train and encourage friendly, helpful assistants are being very astute. The better the relationship between assistant and shopper the harder it is not to buy.
Glamorous, high-end shops with lots of space, but not very intiutive layouts, are actually creating the ideal environment for friendly, well-informed assistants to step forward and offer to help: “I’m sure we have that in modoms (sic) colour and there is a pair of shoes that would soooo go!” If the floor covering changes underfoot – be on your guard.
2. Click, hic – the role of alcohol and flooring
Even flooring can encourage us to spend. Supermarkets put different flooring in the wine and deli areas to create a more high-end feel. Better boutiques will often opt for wood floors which also click underfoot, announcing our arrival – and also making it harder to back out unnoticed (once you’ve clocked the size of the price tags). And beware the complimentary glasses of champagne, or hand massages in beauty shops and perfumiers, particularly at this time of year. Alcohol goes to your head and also to your wallet – leaving both with a headache. There’s no such thing as a free punch. A complimentary five minute massage works on the psychology of reciprocity. Because we have been given something we reciprocate by making a purchase. If you accept a drink or massage give your purse to a mate before indulging.
3. Deck the malls with boughs of holly
Walk into a shopping centre at this time of year and your senses are assailed with decorations, lights and festive music – Christmas shopping tricks at their most hypnotic. While your brain struggles to orientate itself you’ll find yourself walking deeper and deeper into the critical selling areas, often on a current of warm air and away from the cold outside. It’s not by chance that store cafes and restaurants are located on upper floors, or that food courts are beyond or above the main selling areas. Heading off to get a cup of coffee just ensures we pass more things to buy. Going outside for a breath of fresh air every now and again will help clear your head and improve your buying decisions.
4. Why do you think the fairy is at the top of the tree?
A Christmas tree is the most perfect selling mechanism. It is triangular in shape, with the most prized object at the top. In retail terms it demonstrates ‘triangular balance’, and is employed when creating shop window and counter top displays. The trangular arrangement is designed to draw our eyes inwards and upwards, building towards more expensive items at the top. Once we’ve seen the best the display has to offer it’s hard to settle for second best. Beware of triangles and try and keep your eyes away from the items at the very top.
5. Come on in the spending’s lovely
The other thing about enclosed and heated shopping centres is that it allows the stores to keep their doors open, thus removing one of the barriers to spending. Often it’s during those few seconds when you push against a closed door that you run the mental calculation about whether you truly want (or can afford something). Get rid of the door and you get rid of the chance to think and change your mind. Even if the doors are open try resting you hand on the cold door handle or glass as you enter to get your objective focus back.
6. Making us see red
Red is positively the worst colour for our eyes to be confronted with when it comes to shopping. It tends to energise us and can increase our spending. For example, research indicates men are likely to tip waitresses more if they wear red aprons. A study looking at eBay found that people bid more aggressively on items pictured against a red background. We also tend to associate red ticket items with items which are on sale. Increasingly stores use red dots on tickets to get us interested, even when there’s no price saving involved. It’s interesting to note that Santa’s red outfit was the product of his increasing role as a selling mechanism over the last 50 years. Back in the day he was pictured dressed in every colour imaginable. Most of us aren’t that stimulated by yellow so keep something yellow in your bag or pocket and look at it every now and again.
7. If it’s a little bit messy I might buy the dressy
Okay, so some posh stores present us with clear, elegant spaces and engaging shop assistants. Others are just one step removed from a jumble sale. Hey, guess what, that also makes us spend. Research has demonstrated that we are more likely to buy something once we touch it. So rummaging along messed up clothes rails can work in the shop’s favour. Even the overwhelming desire to straighten an off kilter display of good can help get us into the spending mood. And a longer walk to the tills means the item spends longer in our hands, enforcing the buy decision. Keep your hands of the merchandise for as much as possible while you’re weighing up how much you truly, truly want an item.
8. Christms smells like an overdraft
Our sense of smell is extremely powerful and evocative so is it any wonder that stores use it to make us spend – the smell of baking bread in supermarkets, perfume in department stores. Christmas comes with its own buying triggers, such as cinnamon, pine and burning candles. One whiff and we get all nostaligic. And nostaligia loosens the press stud on our wallet. You might try carrying a couple of coffee beans around in your pocket. They’re great scent neutralisers.
9. Kerr-ching! and other Christmas tunes
Beware of Christmas music. Those jolly up tempo tunes keep us moving around, experiencing more buying situations. Repeating tunes or playing tunes with multiple verses and a lot of repetition has an hypnotic effect. Those more serious, emotional Christmas songs (such as Silent Night) slow us down and mess with with our budgets. Classical music made wine purchasers spend more. We’re tempted to say wear ear plugs but that might be going a bit too far. Instead, when you hear seasonal music, think about what it reminds you of that money can’t buy – such as having a healthy, happy family.
10. Keep hydrated but stay away from the chocolate Santas!
Spend hours wondering around disorientating shopping malls and bedecked high streets and your blood sugar drops and your decision making powers go all to heck. Certainly don’t attempt a food shop on an empty stomach – you will spend more. Carry a bottle of water when you go Christmas shopping and keep your energy levels up by consuming a slow release carbohydrate – a turkey sandwich will do. But don’t tank up on mince pies and chocolate Santas, that resulting sugar rush can make you buy.