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Gephardt Busts Inflation: The tricks retailers will use to get us to open up our wallets

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SALT LAKE CITY — Of the thousands of Utahns who shopped for bargains on Black Friday, many likely bought a lot of stuff they really didn't plan to buy. That is all by design of retailers who have fine-tuned their tricks over decades. So, maybe if you are aware of a few of them going in, you will be less likely to overspend.

"They create a sense of urgency," Smart Shopping Expert Trae Bodge of merchants said. "And we as shoppers then feel like we have to buy something right now."

Bodge said retailers often use phrases like, "Only 3 Left!" or "Get Them Before They're Gone!"

"Maybe a deal is a limited quantity or it's only available for a limited time," she said. "And that can make us buy more than we want to."

But no words are necessary. A retailer can create urgency just by keeping displays looking scant though they have plenty of inventory in the back.

"It's pretty sneaky, but you know, it is effective," Bodge said.

Also effective is retailers will keep items on sale, or that are pricier, right at eye level. And there's the "cash wrap" — all that stuff kept at checkout stands that can trigger impulse buys.

"You see kind of lots of big, buzzy, exciting things that you might want to throw into your cart just then," Bodge explained.

Pricing schemes touting the biggest discount ever, or holiday displays or big colorful sales signs, all encourage us to spend more, she said.

And the tricks continue online — countdown clocks, timed shipping deals, or the fear of missing out.

"When you're browsing and you see that other people are looking at this item, you might feel like, 'Oh my gosh, I have to buy it right now,'" Bodge said.

Online retailers often upsell by suggesting other items they say go with your purchase. Or they will highlight something as their pick, though it may not be yours.

"You could take it into account, but then it's always good to read the reviews and maybe shop around a little bit," Bodge said.

Her advice to bust inflation here by not overspending: Get organized. List out exactly who you're shopping for and what you want to buy. Use browser shopping extensions to help you determine whether a sale is really the best discount ever. And take your time.

"Make sure that you're getting the best deal and then make your purchase," Bodge explained.


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KSL InvestigatesUtahBusiness
Matt Gephardt
Matt Gephardt has worked in television news for more than 20 years, and as a reporter since 2010. He is now a consumer investigative reporter for KSL TV. You can find Matt on Twitter at @KSLmatt or email him at


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