Drunk Shopping

When we say “drunk shopping,” we’re not talking about stumbling through the aisles while inebriated, tossing things into your cart willy-nilly. But it’s easy to see how the spirit of the holidays might cause you to forget why you went shopping in the first place, get lost in the store, and do things you wouldn’t normally do.

Beware of Drunk Shopping

The Christmas carols piping through the mall or grocery store this season might intoxicate your senses. Stirring memories of holidays from your childhood or reminding you of upcoming holiday cheer, the pleasant and familiar melodies might not be all that jolly for your budget. In fact, strolling around while listening to (or humming along with) Frosty the Snowman, Silent Night or other holidays tunes could lead to overspending.

A new study published in the Journal of Consumer Research says you’re more likely to shop or splurge in the direction you hear music coming from. Let’s say you’re standing at the perfume counter trying to choose between a modest-priced scent and a pricier, designer fragrance for your sister. If you notice carols (or any music) coming from your left, the study says you’re more likely to buy the perfume on the left, regardless of the price.  So it’s no wonder that stores often have their priciest wares positioned under overhead speakers. Or shops in the mall often have music playing near the entrance to lure you into the store.

Sober up. Knowing that you’re subconsciously going to gravitate toward the tunes is the will help you shop with a deaf ear. When you hear music, the simple act of stopping to think of something other than the words to the song or the melody can help you regain control of your senses and stick to your budget.

But music isn’t the only tactic that could lead to a holiday debt hangover this holiday season.

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Bold, Bright Colors Count

With red and green as two of the most popular colors of the season, stores have a chance to cash in on another of your senses. Researchers have found that red is perceived as stimulating and representing action. While green is seen as vivid, mysterious and striking. Teamed up, the colors of Christmas can tempt you into overspending. That’s because clothing, throw pillows or other items that may be on your gift-giving list of any color placed near something red or green arouse your senses which can have you forgetting about the object’s price, usefulness, etc.

Without realizing it, all the twinkling, sparkling and brightly colored holiday-themed displays featuring red and/or green can have you forgetting that spending too much of your own green can lead to a mountain of debt and blown budget that’s in the red long after the tinsel gets tossed.

Shut your eyes. Neutralize the color. Before deciding on an item placed near something red or green, if possible, relocate the item to a different part of the store or shelf that’s not decked out in some of Santa’s favorite colors. This will help calm your senses to make an objective decision.

It Smells SO Good

When was the last time you walked into a craft store after Halloween and wasn’t hit with the strong smell of cinnamon rolls, sweet berries, and pine needles simultaneously? Exactly.

Several studies, including many conducted by Alan Hirsch, M.D., founder of The Smell and Taste Research and Foundation based in Chicago, Illinois, have linked the smell of cinnamon with the power to stimulate areas of the brain that trigger a feeling of being awake while pine and spruce makes you feel happy. So the intoxicating scents of the season that ramp up your already jolly mood can lead to throwing financial caution to the wind.

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Researchers say your sense of smell is considered to be the one most closely tied to emotion, so if the scent of cinnamon also reminds you of your grandmother’s house, you’re especially susceptible to the smelly tactic shops use to spark overspending. The scents makes you feel warm, overly-comfortable, and maybe a little bit fuzzy inside.

Shake it off. Scent is one of the toughest budget busters to overcome, since you can’t see the fragrance and may not even realize your olfactory sense is being swayed. But you can tackle cinnamon, pine and other emotional scents by stopping without smelling the roses – or during the holidays the cinnamon and pine. The advanced HVAC systems of retailers are capable of pumping faint hints of scent through the air in the store. But you may be able to outwit scent marketing by standing near the front of the store or away from a vent (they’re visible on the ceiling) to ponder purchasing an item.

A shopping trip to the mall is trickier though, as you’re assaulted by strong scents, loud music, and bright displays at every turn. Take advantage of a mall directory and map out your path. Avoid food courts because we all know they’re full of seasonal sweets and drinks. Steer clear of bath and body products stores–they spend most of their budgets on flashy displays and fragrance pumping vents. If you’re on the lookout for marketing tactics, you’re less likely to fall for them!

Keeping your naughty and nice list in your hand or readily accessible may also help you from getting ‘drunk’ at the mall. The constant reminder of what you’ve set out to buy may help you keep your sense in line this holiday season.

Photo: john-uk

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