Polls / November 19, 2013

Do you sometimes buy items you don’t need just because they are on sale?

More than half of the respondents to this eZonomics online poll admit to sometimes buying items they don’t need just because they are on sale.

Unnecessary – but nice
In the supermarket last night, a member of the eZonomics team bought a packet of sweets on impulse – spurred on by the fact they were marked down.
A month or so earlier, it was a pair of shoes at a sample sale. Unnecessary – but nice – shoes, priced at 80% off and made more appealing by the circumstances of having gone to the sample sale with a view to buy.
These are examples of buying items that are not needed simply because they are on sale. But were the purchases a bad decision?

“Keep calm and carry on shopping”
The fun flowchart below suggests some questions to ask to work out if sale shopping is out of control.
The first is whether items that are not needed are being bought simply because they are on sale. Then, asking if the purchases are putting financial strain on the buyer. If not, it might be that the situation is under control – and there’s little harm using the phrase “keep calm and carry on shopping”.
But if the answer indicates the shopping is breaking the budget, extra controls (such as ditching the credit card and trying a cash-only diet) might be needed. After all, shoes at 80% off still cost.

Shop around – sale items are not necessarily cheaper
The eZonomics article Four tips for shopping in sales tells how research from more than 20 years ago examined how price tags “marked down” might make shoppers immediately think the item was a good deal – but that shopping around would prove if it actually was.
The article also highlights the thinking trap of thinking of a EUR20 discount as less valuable on a EUR50 calculator than a EUR1,250 laptop. But it might be worth remembering the real buying power of the discount and the opportunity cost of spending the money in a certain way.

Click here to view the PDF.

ShoppingBudgetMoney illusion

eZonomics team
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