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  • Writer's pictureGeorgina Sturmer

The psychology of sales shopping

For many of us, the act of finding an item that we really want to buy, and then making that purchase, offers us a sense of pleasure.  When the sales are on, this sense of pleasure and excitement is multiplied.  We’re not just seeking out the thrill of buying something that we want, it’s also driven by the process of sale-shopping itself.  There’s a competitive element to shopping in the sales.  We’re not just buying something based on whether we can afford it, but it’s also based on availability and scarcity.  So when we find a prized item, it’s as if we are beating a competitor.  There’s also the excitement of buying something that we might not ordinarily have been able to afford, potentially giving us access to a sense of luxury.  I spoke to the Belfast Telegraph all about this topic. Click here to read the full article, and read on to learn what I had to say.


Do we react differently if we learn of others ‘doing well’ in the sales, particularly if we haven’t?

We all recognise the concept of FOMO - the fear of missing out.  This applies to shopping in the sales too.  So if we hear about someone else doing well in the sales, it has the potential to trigger our own dissatisfaction and negative thinking.  How is it that someone else was able to snap up a desirable bargain, when we have failed to do so?


Tips for staying calm when prices drop in the sales:

  • Fix your budget, and stick to it.  

  • Make a plan around where and when you will do your shopping.  Choose a time and location when the shops are likely to feel less busy and overwhelming.  If you’re in an indoor shopping centre, take breaks and head outside for some fresh air to counteract the heady, buzzy feeling inside the shops.  

  • Make a list of what you actually want, and include the maximum price that you will pay, along with any options, like the colour or the style.  That way you won’t accidentally buy a jacket you love in a colour that you’d never wear, just because it’s on sale.  

  • Instigate a ‘time delay’. This could be really hard during the sales, as we are encouraged to ‘buy now’ for fear that an item will go out of stock.  But if you force yourself to take a 24 hour time delay before making a purchase, then you’ll know whether or not you really want it, or if you’re simply being sucked into feeding your shopping craving.  

  • Tune into retailer tactics in order to understand the psychology of sales shopping. Complex pricing strategies can convince us that we are getting a bargain even when that isn’t actually the case.  Retailers often indulge in the ‘gamification’ of shopping, whether we are shopping online or using apps to secure in-store deals.  These can lure us in to buy things that we don’t need or that we are not ready to purchase.  

  • Marketers are adept at using seductive wording to draw us in.  They will use language that encourages us to feel a sense of urgency about shopping.  This sense of urgency is key, as it encourages us to throw caution to the wind.  


Identifying our personal triggers when it comes to the psychology of sales shopping

We all have our own personal triggers when it comes to shopping.  It’s important to understand our relationship with our consumer habits - and the contents of our wallets - when we approach a trip to the sales.  Ask yourself what you really need when you make each purchase.  Is that specific item exactly what you’re looking for?  Or are you using shopping as a way to meet ‘unmet needs’ in a bid to feel happier or more confident or more secure.  


Keen to explore more?

I love working with people to help them to understand themselves.

If you’d like to learn more, please get in touch. Click here to contact me or click here to book a free 30-minute introductory chat.



The psychology of sales shopping



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