How Big-Box Home Stores Get You to Spend More

Have you ever visited a big-box store to pick up something quick like cat food or coffee, then ended up walking out with $70 worth of items in your cart? It’s not just you—big-box stores rely on tactical strategies to make consumers spend more money. Everything from a store’s layout to its paint color is carefully chosen with this purpose in mind. Check out 10 of the sneakiest ways that retailers get us to open up our wallets, and then the next time you hit the big-box store, you'll be able to make smarter decisions before you reach the register.

  1. Carefully Calculated Layout

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    Big Box Store Layout

    It’s no coincidence that popular items are located at the back in big-box stores. Retailers often create a winding or convoluted layout to steer you toward more expensive and appealing items that weren’t on your list.


    Related: 10 Things to Know Before You Set Foot in a Mattress Store

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  2. Strategic Shelf Placement

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    Strategic Shelf Placement at Big Box Stores

    When perusing the shelves, consumers instinctively look at eye level, which explains why the most expensive household products are displayed there. Strategic shelf placement works for children as well: The next time you’re shopping, notice how your little ones have easy access to toys, games, and candy on the lower shelves.


    Related: 7 Mistakes Everyone Makes When Shopping for Furniture

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  3. False Sales

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    False Sales at Big Box Stores

    Savvy shoppers often think they’re getting unbeatable deals at big-box stores, but looks can be deceiving. A store’s “discounted price” may actually be the retail price, so you really aren’t scoring a bargain after all.


    Related: 11 Reasons to Always Stop at Garage Sales

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  4. Seasonal Inventory

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    Limited Edition Items at Big Box Stores

    Big-box stores sell many household staples, but they also offer seasonal and bargain items throughout the year. This tricks consumers into buying limited-edition products ASAP in the belief that they'll sell out.


    Related: 10 Tips and Tricks for a Stress-Free Trip to Home Depot

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  5. Free Samples

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    Free Samples at Big Box Stores

    Everyone loves free samples at big-box stores, but the bite-size pieces of crackers or deli turkey may come at a cost. Not only do samples let people “test” new products, they also make some consumers feel obligated to buy them.


    Related: 25 Charming General Stores Across the Country

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  6. Giant Shopping Cart

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    Shopping Cart vs Shopping Basket

    Did you ever notice that it’s more difficult to find a basket than a shopping cart at a big-box store? This isn’t a coincidence. Shopping carts are larger than baskets, and retailers know consumers will be tempted to toss more items into them.


    Related: 14 Things Never to Buy in Bulk

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  7. Store Credit Cards

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    Should I Get an In-Store Credit Card?

    Store credit cards save you money on big-ticket items, but they can end up costing more in the long run. Because stores receive your personal information during the card application process, they can send you enticing, customized offers that may trigger another shopping trip. What’s more, these cards usually have high APRs and other terms that aren’t consumer-friendly.


    Related: Here Are a Dozen Things to Stop Paying For in 2018

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  8. The Odds and Ends at the Checkout Stand

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    Items Near Registers

    Maybe you’re able to resist strategic product placements and deep-discount sales throughout the store—but can you turn down the hand sanitizers, candy bars, and breath mints at the registers? Retailers place these items near the checkout to cash in on impulse purchases.


    Related: 11 Things Never to Buy at IKEA

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  9. Enticing End Caps

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    End Caps at Big Box Stores

    While you're searching for household staples, you walk past plenty of expertly designed end caps filled with appealing products. These displays are valuable real estate in a big-box store, and retailers know how to draw in customers with lavish layouts and alluring signage.


    Related: 15 Handy Things to Get at Home Depot for Under $15

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  10. Colorful Come-Ons

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    Paint Color of Big Box Stores

    Stores carefully choose signage and colors to evoke emotional responses in shoppers. For example, bright red clearance signs capture attention quickly, while colorful displays of fruit in the grocery aisles look extremely appetizing.


    Related: 10 Best Ways to Spend $10 at Target

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  11. See the House of the Week

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    Discover and admire beautiful and innovative home architecture, from grand Victorians to quaint cabins and all the styles in between. Take a look at the latest images and inspiration!