Save More At The Store By Avoiding These Common Sales Techniques

Stores use different types of sales techniques to get you to spend more money. Knowing the various retail sales techniques and tricks can help you keep more of your money in your pocket. I’m not talking about scams or anything like that. But, it is true that retail stores, online retailers, and many other companies…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: May 27, 2023

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Save More At The Store By Avoiding These Common Sales Techniques #salestechniques #savemoneyStores use different types of sales techniques to get you to spend more money. Knowing the various retail sales techniques and tricks can help you keep more of your money in your pocket.

I’m not talking about scams or anything like that.

But, it is true that retail stores, online retailers, and many other companies use these sales techniques to get you to spend more money, which boosts their revenues.

Their goal is usually to get you to buy more of their products and/or make them seem like a better deal.

While even the smallest advertisement, placement, pricing, and so on may seem insignificant to you, companies know what they are doing. They have done thousands of hours of market research in order to make more money, and they know which sales techniques work best.

These are businesses after all, and their goal is to make money.

But, my business is all about teaching you how to keep more money in your pocket 🙂 So, today’s post will explain various sales techniques as well as my tips to avoid falling for them.

The most common sales techniques, how to avoid them and keep more money in your pocket:


Putting the necessities at the back of the store.

Why is it that the items you need the most are usually the farthest away? Things such as milk, eggs, and bread are usually all the way in the back of the store and sometimes they are even far apart. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could find the necessities all in one place?

You would think stores would want to make it easy for you.

Sadly, they aren’t in the game of making it easy, not when it means you might spend more money.

Sales techniques like this are commonly found at grocery stores, and they do this because you will have to walk through the rest of the store to get what you really need. Then, you are more likely to shop in the other aisles and spend more money.

How many times have you gone into the store just for bread but leave with fifteen other things? Grocery stores are full of sales techniques to encourage you to spend more, and that can really hurt you at the checkout.

Looking for ways to stay on budget at the grocery store, read more at 16 Smart Ways To Save Money On Groceries.


Pricing games.

If you are trying to be a smart shopper, you are probably looking for the lowest prices, but don’t fall for something just because it looks like it’s on sale.

With this sales technique, retailers will show different prices for virtually the same product so that they can encourage you to buy one over another.

Some of the pricing games and retail sales techniques that a retailer may use include:

  • Anchor pricing – An example of this is finding a product that costs $100, and then finding an almost equal item next to it for $50. You are much more likely to buy the $50 item. Retail stores will put the two products next to one another because it makes the $50 item look like a great deal, when in reality it might not be. The store may have gotten some older merchandise, have a deal with their supplier, and so on. They may just be trying to offload a product that isn’t as high quality as the more expensive one.
  • Cents make a difference – A price like $9.99 may seem much more appealing than one priced at $10. It’s only one cent, but the retail stores know this trick well.
  • Is the price written out? – When the price of an item is written out, such as “Ten Dollars,” people are likely to spend more money on the that item.
  • 10 for $10 – Many grocery stores and retail stores have this type of offer. This causes people to buy multiples of the same product because they believe that’s the only way to get the deal. However, for the most part, you can purchase just one and it will still just be $1. You should always read the fine print! Also, if you don’t need that many of something, don’t just buy extras for the low price.

My tip for these sales techniques is to always make sure that the item is actually a deal and that you aren’t buying an item because of some perceived value. Always make sure that you actually need the item and be mindful of the different pricing games that may be influencing your purchases.

Related: 30+ Ways To Save Money Each Month


Tax free sale days.

Back to school time is just one time of the year when stores offer you a sales tax break. But, in order to get more customers in the door, some stores also offer random sales tax free days throughout the year.

Surprisingly, when I worked in retail, these were always great days for revenue. Even though not paying for sales tax only meant a 7-8% discount, our store was always way busier than the days when we gave 20% off discounts. I guess it was the fact that people thought they were sticking it to the man? Haha, I don’t know!

Either way, my tip is that you should always try to take the largest discount!  


Sale bins at the check out.

Check out lanes are always full of little things to buy, and this is because retailers are hoping that you’ll think you need something at the last minute. These impulse buys, even though they might be cheap, can really add up.

Many retailers even add sale bins near the checkout lanes for the same reason. They are assuming you will be in a rush and won’t have enough time to think about whether you truly need the sale item or not, plus they hope that you’ll just say yes to it because you don’t want to hold up the line. Sale bins can cause many people, even the most frugal ones, to spend money because they think they are getting a great deal.

My tip here is to know that those items are placed there for impulse spending. If you know why they are doing it, hopefully you can avoid purchasing those little things and sales items.


Free food samples.

Whether you are shopping at a grocery store or at the mall, free food samples usually cause a person to spend more money.

This is especially true at grocery stores because a little bit of food can make you shop hungry – and this just makes you spend more money. Plus, you may be very likely to purchase the item you just tried, either because you liked it or because you don’t want to offend the person who spent their time making the food.

Don’t worry about offending the person with the samples, they know what they are there to do – you just need to stick to your list.

You can read more about grocery spending and shopping at Weekly Meal Plans And The Importance Of Meal Planning.


Free trials.

Free trials are great because you can test an item or service before paying for it. But, companies aren’t just offering up a free trial to be nice, they do it to make money.

Think about services like Netflix, those companies probably got you to sign up in the first place because they offered a free trial period. You probably had to enter your credit card and billing information before getting that free trial too.

Now, some people, like myself with Netflix, find that they want to continue to use the service or product after the free trial. However, some people end up paying for the service when they don’t actually want it because they either forget to cancel it in time or just don’t want to deal with the hassle of cancelling – these companies count on sales like that.

If you are paying for anything like that because of the reason I just stated, stop reading now and cancel that service today. You’ll be glad you did.

You can avoid sales techniques like this by always making sure that you are actually interested in the service to begin with. If you decide you aren’t interested in it after the free trial, take the time to cancel the service or product before they start charging you.

Related: Are These Bad Money Habits Making You Broke?


BIG shopping carts and a lack of baskets.

Due to traveling full-time, we visit a lot of different stores and chains. One thing I’ve noticed recently is that a lot of stores no longer have baskets.

I think a lot of this has to do with the fact that offering baskets usually means that you’ll buy less stuff. I know this is true for me – I always try to find a basket so that I am forced to stick to my list. After all, there are only so many things that I can realistically carry before it feels like my arms will fall off!

Stores are also moving towards larger shopping carts. This is because it’ll seem like you aren’t buying that many things when your cart looks empty. Plus, with a larger shopping cart, you can easily put more in there, and that’s probably more than you came to buy in the first place.

You can avoid sales techniques like this one by always sticking to your list. And, if they have a basket and you think everything will fit in it, just stick with the basket!


The most expensive items are usually at eye level.

The next time you go the store, pay attention to where items are placed on the shelves.

The generic stuff, less expensive items, and the ones they just don’t make much money off of are usually up high or down below, while the most expensive items are usually right at eye level. This is one of the main sales techniques stores use because they know you are likely to buy what you see first.

Many of the sales techniques I mention in this post work for stores because they know that people are in a hurry, and that’s definitely the case here. They know that most people probably don’t come to the store to waste time. By putting the least profitable items and the ones that are the cheapest on the very bottom shelf or top shelves, you are less likely to purchase them.

Due to this, my tip is to take the time to look at all of the shelves to make sure that you’re receiving the best deal and buying what you actually came for in the first place.


Free shipping with $XX purchase

Many online retailers will offer free shipping, or even a free item, if you spend over a certain dollar amount. Retailers aren’t dumb, though, and they definitely aren’t losing out on money by giving things away. Retailers use this sales trick because they know that a person is much more likely to spend money if they think they are getting something for free.

Also, if a person is right below the free shipping requirement, they may end up spending a lot of money in order to get the free shipping. This is because the purchase, in their eyes, then looks like it’s a better deal.

If you are wanting to get the most out of your online shopping, I highly recommend Ebates. Ebates allows you to shop as you normally would online, but gives you a discount when you shop through them. This can make a large purchase a little more budget friendly. You can earn $10 when signing up through my link, and you can read my Ebates review here.


Mixing up the store layout

Have you ever been to a store and been a tad angry because they completely changed the layout on you, and now you don’t know where anything is?

Well, stores do this on purpose.

They aren’t switching things around to make it easier for you, this is just another one of the common sales techniques to increase their revenue. Stores are constantly doing research to find new ways to increase their sales and that often means moving things around.

Also, by changing up the aisles and layout, a person then has to search harder for what they came for. This means you may then come across items that you didn’t know they had and items you didn’t know you needed. This gives the retail store more of an opportunity to sell you things.

My tip to avoid spending more because of this sales technique is to give yourself some time to get used to a new layout and to make sure that you just get what you came for.


Shopping just because there is a sale.

Stores have sales for lots of reasons. Sometimes they are doing it to promote a new product, to get rid of old merchandise, to move in-season items in, and so on. But, they also use this sales technique because they know that if you come in to shop for a sale, then you are probably also going to buy some products at full price.

Sales can be a great way to get a discount on things you need and regularly use, but if you are shopping just because there is a sale, you might be spending money when you shouldn’t.

For some people, sales can be a dangerous way to overspend when you are trying to save money. If you are trying to pay down debt, save for retirement, and more, you need to make sure you are only shopping when you need to.

Related articles:


Choosing a low price over high quality.

There are many times when we buy something just because it’s cheap. But, a lot of the time that cheaper product may end up costing you more money in the long run.

Now, there are a times when a person needs something right away and can’t afford a higher quality product, but make sure you research the item so that you can see if it will actually last.

Clothing is one area that people tend to spend more for lower quality products. I see this all the time when I go into clothing stores. There are different levels of quality, but it’s easy to fall for the lower quality product, especially when it means you can buy more. Now that I’ve switched to a minimalist lifestyle, I try to just buy one or two of something that is higher quality than four or five of something that will probably wear out quickly.

Read more at Less Is More: Guide To Becoming A Minimalist.

What other retail sales techniques do you know of? What other sales tips do you have to share?

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Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. Mara

    One thing I have noticed is that sometimes the store brand will be more expensive than the name brand! Obviously store brands tend to be cheaper, so this is quite the trick to fool people. I believe for the most part they are the same product, but with certain products there is truly a difference and I prefer to buy the brand name over the store brand.

  2. The grocery stores I shop have done away with baskets too or they make them much harder to find. If I’m just going for a few items, I won’t bother with a basket though. Having my hands full of items on my list keeps me from grabbing the Oreos. Those Oreos and chips always call out to me. ;P

  3. Great article! There are a lot of sales tricks out there that I had no clue about.

    One trick I fell prey to was a “going out of business sale” where jewelry was on sale for 90% off. But what I didn’t know at the time was that the sticker price was marked way up before applying 90% discount.

    I effectively paid the regular price.