Going shopping over the holiday period can be a bit like going into battle with retailers who use every sneaky scheme they can think of to get you to buy their goods. It is becoming more difficult to win, because marketers are increasingly using neuroscience to trick your brain into parting with money.
It helps to know some of the tricks they use so you don't fall prey to them. Here are just a few of the more common traps for shoppers.
A sense of urgency in advertising (the goods are on offer or on sale for a limited time only).
Shop assistants who are trained to talk to you. They are not just being polite. Statistics show you are more likely to buy in a shop if the assistant engages you in conversation.
Displaying goods in such a way as to encourage you to pick them up or try them on. The more physical contact you have with the goods, the more likely you are to buy.
High-margin impulse items next to the counter which tempt you just as you are about to pay.
Shopping baskets or trolleys provided in-store for you to fill.
Free samples, particularly those which tempt your taste buds or sense of smell.
The use of scent, such as the smell of freshly cooked bread in fast food outlets or the smell of perfumes in a cosmetics store.
If you truly want to keep to your budget over the holiday period, make a list of what you want and stick to it. Don't be tempted by offers, avoid picking up or trying on goods that are not on your list, don't use baskets and trolleys and avoid engaging in conversation with shop assistants.
Liz Koh is an authorised financial adviser.
The advice given here is general and doesn't constitute specific advice to any person.
A free disclosure statement can be obtained by free-phoning 0800 273 847.