Polls / April 16, 2012

Do you feel more pressure to buy if an item is on sale for a day, week or other 'limited time'?

Respondents to the latest eZonomics online poll are divided on whether they feel more pressure to buy an item if it is on sale for a ‘limited time’. Slightly more said they do feel such pressure.

The phrase “for-a-short-time-only” is used so often for sales, it has become a cliché. But there are serious reasons why sellers might use the phrase – and why shoppers could do well to stop, compare prices and try to minimise pressure to “buy now”.
Our Five intelligent tips for shopping smarter outlines an evaluation of pricing and shopping by the United Kingdom’s Office of Fair Trading. It says a time-limited sale can make a TV, pair of shoes or other item seem scarce – and evidence suggests that scarcity might lead us to think the item (or the deal offered on it) is better. Taking time to objectively think through costs and benefits might help.

Watch out for “framing” and the lure of “free”
The tips warn against automatically going for the middle-priced option of those offered – as highest and lowest prices can “frame” what we expect to pay. They also warn against being sucked in by the word “free” (be it free delivery or children travelling free), as costs are often worked in another way.
Researching the market and questioning if a discounted product is actually good value might help shoppers assess if they are really getting a good deal.

ShoppingDan ariely

eZonomics team
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