Sales are not good for you

Another Thanksgiving, another Black Friday sale. Do we need another dress or a pair of jeans on Nov 23rd? Probably not. We still head online or to a mall to browse deals and buy more stuff. Don't take me wrong; I do love to buy another dress or a top even though I do not need one.


This Black Friday made me think about the magic of the word "sale." Why is it that most of us spend money freely during a sale promotion? Part of it must be the idea that we are saving money. We check out an item (we do not need), see the price drop and think we are scoring a great deal. The bigger the percentage drop, the more eager we are to get this item. The biggest mistake is we do not realize that we do not need this item. The only reason we noticed the sale deal was because we came into the store or browsed online. Had we never paid attention to a sale, we would have never bought this item.


Let's be honest. When we need something, most of the time, we get it in the foreseeable future. We don't make plans to buy it during a sale. We get what we want (a reasonably priced item).


The fear of “missing out” is heightened by the knowledge that you’re competing with others. For many this turns into what I like to call competitive sport shopping. Winning is the goal, sometimes even more so than what we’re buying. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-why-behind-the-buy/201301/why-clearance-sales-are-psychologically-irresistable

Another problem is our society. Black Friday sales are a tradition for most of the families - more precisely a competition in "who got the best deal." Family members and friends head to a mall to score the best deals. After the shopping spree, a busy morning is followed by brunch/lunch during which all share their stories about great deals they scored. We cannot wait to see the faces of people when we share that the sweater we got was 80% off. 80% off! This makes us somehow better, smarter, or thriftier? No! We are just a bragging consumer who wants justification, approval, and praise from our peers.


[S]ome retailers use “fictitious pricing,” a practice where retailers list an original price on a product that does not truthfully reflect prior selling prices, to boost sales. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-why-behind-the-buy/201301/why-clearance-sales-are-psychologically-irresistable

The third problem is the trick that many stores employ to make you believe you are scoring a fantastic deal. Each sale item lists an original price as well as a sale price. Stores arbitrary assign higher prices to show a substantial percentage drops in price. We, again, think that we are getting a super deal, and of course, buy a useless item.


All the deals, promotions, friend's posts on social media, and a need to show off makes us focus on the "savings" we are getting. We forget that to "save," we need to spend. And because the focus is on savings, we forget to count how much we are spending. Have you ever looked at your account after a sale shopping spree and, sadly, realized that you spent way too much, that another dress or a pair of shoes was not necessary and brings you no joy. That in the moment, you felt so happy to score this deal, but just a few days later you don't even care about it.


The sales thought took me a step further to a question of regular consumption. In our day and age, we are bombarded with sales, promotions, and deals on new fresh ideas/trends/celebrity fashion lines that we are never pleased with what we bought just days ago. The next day, there will be another cleaver targeted promotion that you have to explore and purchase what it advertises. The cycle never ends, and that is exactly what advertisers want.


I feel that shopping is a lot like dating - many people have a hard time settling down because of the fear that someone better is still waiting for them. Same with physical items. We are never in love with the things we own. We see something new and regret what we bought just yesterday. We see a celebrity wearing a new style, and we have to have it. We are so blinded by a desire to belong to a "club."


What about thinking a little bit more long-term? What about buying things that are timeless, classic, and chic? What about being independent and have a voice? I am not saying to never experiment or have a trendy item. Please DO buy whatever you want but be smart. Use your money and time wisely. Make sure that whatever you do is for YOU, and not for your Facebook friends or Instagram likes (unless it is the only purpose).


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