Shopping list

7 stores you should never walk into without a shopping list

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Have you ever gone shopping and ended up spending a lot more money than you expected, with purchases that weren’t even on your radar before you left? You’re in good company, especially at some stores notorious for subtly manipulating customers into buying more than they want through techniques ranging from strategic store layouts and merchandising to bright lights and colors. cheerful.

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We recommend that the next time you go shopping at one of the following seven stores, bring a list and stick to it – and maybe set the cash amount as well.

Bed bath and beyond

Bed Bath and Beyond works on you before you even walk into the store, Gary Grewal, certified financial planner and consumerism blogger says on his site. “They have a unique tactic of sending out a great great coupon card for 20% off which brings you into the store.”

Getting there is more than half the battle. Then all those shiny new kitchen gadgets, colorful comforters, and other homewares work their magic on your wallet.

Related: 8 Affordable Ways to Upgrade Your Kitchen


Costco has long been a leader in creating an enjoyable customer experience – from their free samples and demo tables, to incredible prices, it’s hard not to leave Costco without spending a penny.

Additionally, said Scott Alan Turner, financial planner and consumer advocate at Rock Star Financial“General store layouts are designed to increase consumer spending. The ends of aisles are filled with things people didn’t even know they needed – batteries, tasty snacks, seasonal items and drinks on sale.

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They take it up a notch seasonally, he added. “Just walk into Costco in January and you’re surrounded by the latest trends in weight loss, vitamins, and workout gear to start that New Year’s resolution. In February, you might not have only need a gallon of milk, but you can count on all sorts of Valentine’s Day bric-a-brac, plus overpriced chocolate and teddy bears.

Although you get good value at Costco, Grewal added that the big chain “uses strategies like free samples, a mail-in coupon book, road shows, and the idea of ​​sunk cost. to pay a subscription to get your money’s worth”.


Even if you’re not a hardcore crafter, you might find it hard not to spend more than you bargained for at this big-box craft store. This may be partly because Michaels is the largest craft store of its kind, according to Money Inc, and sells much more than just craft supplies, including games, toys, party and more.

Read more: 20 insider tips to save money on every part of your home

sam’s club

Sam’s Club is another wholesale store that always seems to offer a good deal, said Michael Williamson, marketing manager for hoista company that helps aspiring business owners get started.

“Never enter Sam’s Club without having a clear idea of ​​what you are looking for and a total spending limit in mind,” he urged. “While Sam’s Club’s wholesale offers can be enticing, they can also be misleading as to how much you’re actually saving. Is 48 bags of Hamptons In-Shell Peanuts for $13.98 really a bargain? Do you really need 48 bags of peanuts? »

Explore: 3 Best Warehouse Clubs and How to Save: Costco, Sam’s Club and BJ’s


When it comes to stores known to make you spend money, Target is the big winner, even earning its own name, “The Target Effect,” according to Business Insider. Grewal pointed out that Target caught the attention of people reeling on social media about simply buying toilet paper and spending $200 on impulse purchases instead.

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“These stores are doing a good job of leveraging end caps to showcase new, colorful items and appeal to that feeling of indulgence. They also use creative slogans, like “Target Run and Done” to encourage you to shop there too much so you don’t need to shop elsewhere.

Trader Joe’s

Then there’s Trader Joe’s, “a beloved specialty grocer,” Grewal said. He said the store’s “Fearless Flyer” post excites people to discover new products, and they also know how to present them.

Plus, there are their seasonal items that you just have to try, either because they’re so tasty…or so weird. Pumpkin yogurt anyone? Mango ice cream?

“They’re also doing everything for seasonal items ahead of schedule, to cater to customers who are ready to experience pumpkin everything, for example,” Grewal said. “They do a good job of cleverly setting up displays at the start of your shopping journey to buy desserts or snacks that may be there for a limited time only.”

Find out: Should you buy groceries at the dollar store?


Walmart recently made viral news, according to consumer analyst Julie Ramhold with DealNews.comwhen a TikTok user showed how items are strategically rearranged overnight.

“It may seem innocuous, but it has been suggested that grocery stores as well as big box stores will rearrange things to force customers to to have to browse. In turn, this ends up encouraging customers to spend more than they intended, as they have to browse through more items to find what they’re looking for.

Ramhold added: “By sticking strictly to your list at Walmart, you ensure that no matter how the layout has changed, you’re still only buying what you need, which helps you save money. money by allowing you to stick to your budget.”

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Final Thought: Beware of Promotions

Remember that all of these stores are constantly trying to be several steps ahead of consumers. Eril Eti, founder of and consumer goods industry expert, reminds you that promotions can be enticing…at a cost.

“These promotions can be offered in ready-to-use displays such as pallets, tips, clip strips, counter displays, and they are strategically placed in locations where foot traffic and intent to purchase are high.” Although some of these promotions can offer great deals, Eti warned that they are not always worth spending the extra money.

“Consumers should always pay attention to unit price and compare promotional and regular prices to make sure it’s worth spending the money they didn’t intend to spend. Having a shopping list and sticking to it helps you stay on budget and avoid unnecessary purchases.

When all else fails, shop online!

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About the Author

Jordan Rosenfeld is a freelance writer and author of nine books. She holds a BA from Sonoma State University and an MFA from Bennington College. His articles and essays on finance and other topics have appeared in a wide range of publications and clients including The Atlantic, The Billfold, Good Magazine, GoBanking Rates, Daily Worth, Quartz, Medical Economics, The New York Times , Ozy, Paypal, The Washington Post and for many commercial customers. As someone who had to learn a lot of her money lessons the hard way, she enjoys writing about personal finance to empower and educate people on how to make the most of what they have and how to live. a better quality of life.