How Retailers Use Coupons to Trick You Into Spending More


As someone who typically does not utilize the coupon, I find it interesting that so many people do not realize that many coupons are designed to actually get you to spend more. Back when extreme couponing was a huge thing and everyone was doing it, it was always a little funny to me to see women and men posting photos of things they purchased for just a few dollars. It was a bunch of, “Look what I just got for $30 at CVS but I saved $100!” beneath a photo of 45 cans of shaving cream. Now, we all use it and we all need it, but a lot of time goes into finding coupons and deals that work so well you can get all this stuff for nothing. At the end of the day, is it worth it to spend $30 on 10 lifetimes worth of shaving cream when you could have done something else with five hours of your time? Many retailers use coupons to get you to spend more at the store, not save. Let us tell you just how this works.

Higher Prices

Sometimes stores such as Old Navy will offer a coupon good for a certain percentage off your entire order. A 20% coupon sounds really good, right? Well, these stores will often raise the price of an item to cover the discount being given, so you’re not actually saving anything.

You Buy What You Don’t Need

How many times do you go into the store and say, “Oh! Oreos are on sale and I can get one free,” and buy two packages? It’s a good deal. We all love a BOGO, but do you actually eat Oreos? Were they on your list? Or did you only buy them because they were on sale? That’s called trickery; you just bought something and spent more than you were planning on spending because it was on sale.

You Skip the Generic

Oftentimes the generic brand of just about anything is exactly the same save for the packaging and the price, but coupons make you forget to buy generic. You will spend more to get a ‘deal’ on a name brand item when the generic equivalent was cheaper as a whole.

Photo Illustration by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images


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