5 Ways Stores Encourage You to Overspend

The whole purpose of a store is to sell something. In fact, the goal for stores is to encourage you to overspend! Retailers have to be pretty good at separating shoppers from their money, otherwise they would go out of business.  When you’re on a Spending Fast (like most of the CGS community members), or simply trying to cut back spending, it’s important to know the traps that retailers set to get you to make a purchase. The CGS Team is sharing 5 ways retail stores encourage shoppers to overspend, even if they weren’t planning on buying anything at all.

#1: Limited-Time Offers

Stores create a sense of urgency for shoppers with limited time offers. “Hurry, sale ends tonight” or “Last chance, buy one-get one”. When there’s a sense of urgency behind a purchase, it’s easy to act on emotion. There’s not enough time to really think through the purchase, so in order to avoid missing out, shoppers buy. While these offers may make items seem like need-to-have-now items, it’s best to avoid spending if you truly don’t need it.

#2: Loose Return Policies

91% of Americans factor in a company’s return policy when deciding on a purchase. Have you ever questioned an item, only to think “I’ll buy it and return in later”? If so, then the store has the advantage. Most stores are hoping the return policy encourages spending, since they are banking on the customer never returning the item anyways. Time gets the better of us, it’s out of the way, or the item gets lost before it can be returned – all excuses for the store making the sale.

#3: Free Shipping

When it comes to online shopping, free shipping is huge. In fact, 96% of online shoppers are more likely to shop on a website that offers free shipping, as opposed to one that doesn’t.  Actual stores are signing on to this trend as well. If a retailer is low on inventory or out of a particular item, they may offer the customer free shipping in order to close the purchase on the spot.

#4: Newsletter Offers

Have you ever visited the website of your favorite store only to be bombarded with discounts just for signup up for their newsletter? Stores offer a discount for signing up, and now they have your email address to keep you informed of upcoming sales. You may not have shopping on the brain, but open your email to a message from your favorite store mentioning 50% off your purchase. Now, the retailer has another avenue to keep you in the loop of limited-time offers.

#5: Cheap Add-On Items

Cheap add-on items are very enticing, especially during the holiday season. You’re already waiting in line, ready to make a purchase, why not get a new lip gloss or a few stocking stuffers? You’ve pretty much exhausted your self-control, so stores are hoping to get one more item out of you.  Ask yourself if you truly need the item, if the answer is no, then put it back.


It can be hard to fight the urge to overspend, especially when retailers work so hard to get you to the point of overspending. Always give yourself a budget when you shop, and don’t be afraid to think about a purchase. Check out fashion blogger Laura Lily’s guest post for City Girl Savings 5 Tips for Shopping on a Budget for tips on keeping your shopping under control. What ways have stores encouraged you to overspend? What’s your weakness when it comes to sales or limited-time offers? Leave a comment below to share your thoughts and shopping experiences with the CGS community!

-The CGS Team



2 thoughts on “5 Ways Stores Encourage You to Overspend”

  1. In my past “overspending” days, I’ve certainly fallen for each one of the traps listed above! It’s pretty crazy how they make you feel like you’re getting the steal!

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