Summer is supposed to be a time for clearance sales at stores as they get ready for fall fashion and back to school shopping.
But it turns out some of the biggest deals are not quite the deals they appear to be.
Instead, it's slick retail marketing, and tricks to get us to buy things we had no intention of buying when we first walked into the store.
Moneywatch.com calls it "pricing psychology," and lists some tricks retailers use to get you to buy more.
Limit 5 Items
Among them: The "5 per customer limit," which makes you think the item is red hot and scarce.
In many cases, the store has plenty.
99 cent trick
Another trick, according to Moneywatch, is that old 99-cent tag. It works.
For example, a box of Tide detergent for $17.99. Come on, we all know it's really 18 bucks. This is even more effective if an item is $99.99.
And if they put that promotion on an endcap, it is more effective, even if it is not the greatest deal.
There's nothing like seeing that big display of brand new fall jackets as soon as you walk into the store. Or the display of power drills and sanders at the entrance of the big box hardware store.
In the main aisles, the priciest name brands tend to be located at eye level, where they are easiest to grab. Companies actually pay for that positioning.
Cheaper generics and off-brands are often down at floor level or up high.
10 for 10 and BoGo
Two more tricks: 10 for 10. We all know you don't really have to buy 10, and that it really means one item for $1 at most grocery stores. But many shoppers still buy 10.
And finally BoGo, or buy one get one free (or at half price).
Moneywatch says shoppers can't resist BoGo, and often buy two pairs of shoes this way, when they never even planned on buying one pair in the first place.
That's a $60 impulse purchase.
What you can do
Retailers and restaurants all want you to think you landed a good deal when you made a purchase.
So it's a good idea to be prepared for the "come-ons," the "two-fer" offers and the great displays that await you when you walk into many stores these days.
If you are planning to buy two things, try to resist the urge to buy five more, knowing the psychology stores are using.
That way you don't waste your money.
Follow John on Twitter (@JohnMatarese)
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