the evil ploy of retailers - part 1 (4/8)

Read first: the truth about black friday – part 3

Retailers prepare months in advance for Black Friday and come up with creative ways to stimulate our insatiable desire to buy more. 

NRF President and CEO, Matthew Shay says, “Consumers today want more than just discounts… they want exclusive offerings and a good reason to spend their discretionary budgets,” He further adds, “We could witness a sea of change this holiday season as consumers’ reliance on extremely deep discounts over the biggest shopping weekend of the year shifts to more of a ‘wait-and-see’ mentality around what retailers will be offering on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday. We are positive retailers have a few tricks up their sleeve that will draw their customers to their stores and websites, deciding the deals are worth it after all.”

Retailers throw all kinds of temptations our way. Doorbuster sales. One day only! Unmissable offers. Now or Never. Early bird specials! Get the best deal! Last chance. Act now! Shop at half price. While supplies last. 

By employing these anxiety-inducing buzzwords, retailers fuel the frenzy of Black Friday. They cultivate the illusion of scarcity, and hence pressure people into buying items now and asking questions later.

All they want is to see carts stacked up with multiple items. As Target’s CEO Brian Cornell says, “What I’ve been most interested in is what’s in the basket. You look at the people who you know came out for a specific [item], but then they’ve actually taken the time to shop other categories, which is really important. The fear here is seeing baskets or carts with one item.”

It’s easy to get caught up in the panic when we believe that our resources are limited. Unfortunately, this drives people to believe they need to buy up bargains fast — even when some of those “bargains” aren’t bargains at all. 

In reality, the Black Friday deals aren’t even that good after all. They’re only designed to look attractive on paper, and to get us to act on impulse. Retailers try to seduce us with a limited-time offer and coerce us into purchasing stuff we don’t need by creating the fear of missing out (FOMO).

Retailers also take advantage of human psychology and invoke our primal brain, forcing us to behave like our hunter-gatherer ancestors, by creating false scarcity and using alarming and somewhat frightening colors (mostly shades of red) to highlight their offers and deal prices.

As a result, many people end up spending more on items even if they can’t afford those items. And due to this, they accrue heaps of credit card debt. 

Black Friday is just right around the corner, and it’ll be safe to assume that a majority of people are still paying off the credit card debt they racked up over the holidays last year.

Kimberly Palmer, personal finance expert at NerdWallet says, “It’s so easy to overspend with all of the excitement and… people forget that they will have to pay all of that debt off eventually.” Instead of spending recklessly, she recommends setting a budget ahead of time. 

Along with that, I’ll also recommend not to use credit cards at all if you want to buy items this holiday shopping season, especially if you’re in deep debt right now. It may be difficult to control your impulses, but in the long run, it’ll be totally worth it.

Read next: the truth about black friday – part 5