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Taming the Trolley: Part 4

4. Be Careful of Sales Tricks
Even though this week’s discussions on spending wisely is aimed at Black Friday and the holidays in general, today’s discussion is focused mostly on Black Friday.

Black Friday feels like an annual treat for thrifty shoppers, but it has little to do with ‘giveaways’. For retailers it is all about maximizing consumer spend.

While some Black Friday bargains could save you money, we should keep in mind stores use this day to manipulate consumers, get feet through doors, win hearts and minds, and generate additional revenue. Here’s a few ways how they do it…

Stores will build up your bargain-seeking arrogance – to your detriment.

The psychological manipulation starts long before anyone bangs on the store doors early on Black Friday morning itself, and all the retailers taking part are conspiring against you.

Stores use several psychological tricks to manipulate shoppers, but one of the most important is boosting your certainty of finding a great deal on days like Black Friday. You might think it’s entirely rational, and even pretty genius, to be tracking down that amazing deal on Black Friday – but if anything, this confidence just means you’re more likely to fall prey to their tricks.

Building up the hype prior to Black Friday reinforces the idea that great bargains are to be had.

“Limited stock” is just that – especially if the numbers aren’t specified.

Mainstream stores will not risk being caught for fraud; if they advertise a once-in-a-lifetime discount of tens of thousands of rands, they really will sell at that price. But there is no requirement for them to have enough stock to make sure you too can get that item at that price.

Be especially worried when the level of stock is not specified, because “limited” can mean “one”.

Stores count on the fact that the adrenaline rush of Black Friday will make you grab a “deal” you haven’t properly researched when limited stock means you can’t get exactly what you want – especially after you’ve camped out on a cold floor all night or obsessively clicked “refresh” on a web page. Example, a store might have a laptop that is marked down by 70% but the store states that there is limited stock. By the time you arrive the limited stock (Which might be just one item) is sold. Since you wanted a laptop and waited for Black Friday, you end up buying another laptop from the store and the store makes a profit on you.

The products on sale may be old….
Check the model numbers of the items that are deeply discounted, and you may find that the products are anything but new.
Events like Black Friday are a great way to move old items that haven’t sold through the year, and probably won’t move during December shopping either – and which will only drop in value as they are outpaced by newer models with new features or technologies.
These can still be great deals if you know what you are in for, and if you are happy with last year’s model, or one with limited features. Just don’t be caught with a “new” PC that isn’t quite what you expected.

Avoid being a victim
If you planning to shop on Black Friday to purchase items you need, be sure to create a plan to avoid becoming a victim of impulsive spending or special offers that are merely smoke and mirrors. Your plan should be based on what you can realistically afford.

Calculate your disposable income (the amount of money you have after you’ve paid all your bills and basic needs such as food and fuel) and assign a responsible portion of it to Black Friday. Then, and only then, make a list of items you need that could be on sale and allocate a percentage of your Black Friday budget accordingly.

Keep a copy of your plan on your phone and reference it before making purchases on Black Friday.

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