Back-to-School: Beware of These Merchant’s Tricks

August 28, 2019
Back-to-school season can be one of the most challenging times of the year. For many parents, it has become a financial burden that is nearly as stressful, if not more, than the holiday season.
Back-to-School: Beware of These Merchant’s Tricks

Back-to-school season can be one of the most challenging times of the year. For many parents, it has become a financial burden that is nearly as stressful, if not more, than the holiday season.

But not for you. Nope. You’ve got it all under control: you’ve established a budget that is well within the limits of what you can afford, you’ve made a list of what you truly need, and you plan to buy only what is on that list. The bad news is it probably won’t work according to plan.

According to a study conducted by Clicktale, a consumer analytics firm, only 76% of people stick to what is on their shopping list when they walk into a store. Ever wonder why this happens despite our best efforts?


This is because merchants have many tricks up their sleeves to get us to spend more than what we intended on. But you can outsmart them.

Here are 5 traps to be on the lookout for during your upcoming back-to-school shopping expedition:

Big Rebate Signs

Store owners will post big sales signs - preferably red -  to lure you into their store, and once you’re in there, they use percentage and rebate signs galore to make you think that you are getting incredible deals on whatever item they want to sell the most. Sometimes they will even stoop to hiking up the price beforehand, just to be able to post that “% off” sign.

Eye-Level Products

Ever heard the saying “eye level is buy level”? It means that retailers will place the more expensive items, the ones they want you to buy - not the ones you need - at eye level. Even sneakier is the fact that they will specifically target your children by stocking products that are attractive to kids, at a lower level, right where they can see them. 

“Specials” Bins

Supermarkets and other stores will often place products in bins. They do this for two reasons: to grab your attention and to give the impression that there is a great sale going on. But this is just another tactic to distract you and make you dive in there and try to find that great “deal” that you hadn’t even planned on buying in the first place.

Multiple Item “Deals”

Stores will often advertise multiple items for one price, and they do so even when those articles can be bought separately, at a lower individual cost. By bunching things together, they make you believe that you are getting a great deal, and they are counting on your buying hurriedly, and blindly, without calculating the actual cost. 

The Infamous Checkout Aisle

Store owners count on your impulsiveness to get you to buy last-minute items as you wait your turn to pay your items at the checkout point. Stick to your list and ignore these often overpriced and unnecessary items.
Yes, back-to-school shopping can be arduous and expensive. But by being aware of some of the tactics that stores use to try and trick you into handing over some of your hard-earned cash, it is possible to come out of this with a bit of lunch money leftover in your pocket.