Did you know that every time you step into a shop, there are a million and one things that are designed to make you part with your cash?
Have you ever popped to the shops to buy milk and come home with a bag full of shopping?
It's annoying how they place the milk at the back of the shop, isn't it!
An international bestselling book 'Why We Buy - The Science of Shopping' gives an insight into some of the ways retailers use psychology to make people buy more, and it seems that men and women are targeted in very different ways.
Its author, Paco Underhill, has spent years observing shoppers in retail environments. If you want to shop smarter, you might be interested by some of the book's insights.
First of all, not everybody who walks into a shop knows whether they will buy anything. 60 to 70% of purchases in supermarkets are 'unplanned'. A store's success depends on how many shoppers it can convert into buyers.
Frugal tip: Don't go shopping unless you need something
Merchandise, where products are placed on the shelf (eye line products sell the most) the smells and lights, the blast of warm air as you enter the shop, the layout of the aisles: it can all determine whether you buy - and lead you towards a product you never even knew you wanted.
Mr Underhill says shopping environments are geared towards women, as women generally choose most of the purchases, including mundane things like groceries.
Family-friendly shops have wide aisles for prams and push-chairs, some provide crèches or children's play areas and special parking spaces for mums. These shops want to attract the 'decision makers'.
Cosmetics and toiletries are generally a woman's domain and women like to take their time to read the packaging before they buy. In one study, 63% of women who bought something in a chemist read the packaging. So you'll find that the cosmetics aisle is usually secluded and private to give them time - so they'll buy more! In department stores, greater pressure tactics are used - most of the beauty products don't have price tags, and women feel embarrassed to ask the lady behind the counter how much something costs, and end up buying it anyway.
Frugal tip: Don't be embarrassed to ask how much an unlabelled item costs before you buy it.
According to Mr Underhill, 65% of men they observed who tried on an item of clothing bought it, whereas only 25% of women did so. Women enjoy the experience of trying different clothes on, whereas men seem to find it stressful. Retailers try to make the men's changing rooms easy to find - as they're likely to get a higher conversion rate.
Frugal tip: Men - if you try on an item of clothing - you're statistically more likely to buy it.
86% of women look at price tags, whereas only 72% of men do. While Mr Underhill believes that men ignore price tags to 'prove their virility' - what it really means is that retailers find it easier to upgrade men to more expensive products, whereas women are more cautious.
Frugal tip: Look at the price tag before you buy and decide whether you really need it.
It's interesting to see how retailers use the psychology of shopping to make us spend more - they're well aware of how we will behave in certain conditions. Next time you're out shopping, think about whether the purchasing decision you make is one you came to by yourself, or whether someone pushed you along a little bit. You may be surprised!
This article was provided by Lucy Bower from thinkmoney.co.uk, where she's been writing frugal tips for almost a year now, and is thoroughly enjoying the frugal lifestyle because of it!