Here's How Retailers Are Manipulating You on Black Friday

iStock.com/andesr
iStock.com/andesr

For many people, one of the best parts of Thanksgiving is grabbing a newspaper to check out the retail circulars for Black Friday deals. The internet has influenced this tradition to an extent—many of the Black Friday ads are leaked online days or weeks in advance—but there’s still an undeniable psychological pull behind this national shopping day. For some retailers, the holidays can make up roughly a third of their annual revenue, with consumers spending $720 billion on Black Friday. Clearly, they have mastered the art of prying open our wallets.

How do they do it? According to a recent piece by Chavie Lieber at Vox, Black Friday is an exercise in shopper manipulation. Retailers typically begin by blanketing their email lists with notices of early sales beginning in late October and November, squeezing in valuable extra weeks out of the shopping season. Known as “Christmas creep,” it promotes Black Friday less as a single day and more of a month-long atmosphere.

Retailers also depend on promoting a level of anxiety among shoppers by depicting deals as being singular or exclusive. Insisting a deal is only good on a certain day or window of time creates a sense of urgency—even if that deal might crop up elsewhere during the year. Special “deals” might actually be just a method of creative pricing. Buy One, Get One, or BOGO, infers two items for the price of one, for example, but buying one item at regular price might not be much different than buying two on sale another time. Still, consumers are primed to respond to “free” without stopping to think if they’d consider the list price for the single item a good deal without the bonus.

A 2017 Money.com report made mention of the fact that many BOGO deals and other promotions aren’t exactly novel. Stores often repeat the same deals from one year to the next, making sure the economics of their promotions are in line with their financial goals.

Despite the hyperbole and convenience of online shopping, consumers still seem to make a ritual out of going out on Black Friday. (A 2017 survey estimated 25 percent of shoppers will head out to fight the crowds.) It’s less about the desire for deals than the competitive nature of the day. Snagging a deal with perceived exclusivity is satisfying. So is heading back to your car with bags of stuff you may never have bought otherwise.

Shoppers that are task-oriented feel a sense of fulfillment when they get rung up for an advertised deal. Social shoppers actually enjoy the crowds and feel a sense of camaraderie with bargain-hunters.

How you feel about Black Friday depends on what you’re looking to get out of it. If you’re after once-in-a-lifetime deals, you might be disappointed to find that you can save money during other times of the year. But if you treat the phenomenon as a challenge or a social gathering, then you’re likely to walk out of a store happy. If you're upbeat about having overspent, then retailers—and all of their subtle psychological tricks—have done their job.

[h/t Vox]

Amazon's Under-the-Radar Coupon Page Features Deals on Home Goods, Electronics, and Groceries

Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

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Now that Prime Day is over, and with Black Friday and Cyber Monday still a few weeks away, online deals may seem harder to come by. And while it can be a hassle to scour the internet for promo codes, buy-one-get-one deals, and flash sales, Amazon actually has an extensive coupon page you might not know about that features deals to look through every day.

As pointed out by People, the coupon page breaks deals down by categories, like electronics, home & kitchen, and groceries (the coupons even work with SNAP benefits). Since most of the deals revolve around the essentials, it's easy to stock up on items like Cottonelle toilet paper, Tide Pods, Cascade dishwasher detergent, and a 50 pack of surgical masks whenever you're running low.

But the low prices don't just stop at necessities. If you’re looking for the best deal on headphones, all you have to do is go to the electronics coupon page and it will bring up a deal on these COWIN E7 PRO noise-canceling headphones, which are now $80, thanks to a $10 coupon you could have missed.

Alternatively, if you are looking for deals on specific brands, you can search for their coupons from the page. So if you've had your eye on the Homall S-Racer gaming chair, you’ll find there's currently a coupon that saves you 5 percent, thanks to a simple search.

To discover all the deals you have been missing out on, head over to the Amazon Coupons page.

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Here's How Much Money You Need to Earn in Each State to Afford a Home

The keys to your own kingdom.
The keys to your own kingdom.
PhotoMIX Company, Pexels

By this point, it’s well-known that American Millennials are much slower to buy homes than Baby Boomers were at their ages. While certain cultural changes have contributed to this trend—people are waiting longer to get married and have children, for example—the most common reasons to continue renting ad infinitum are financial. In other words, it’s especially hard to afford a house these days. That said, residents of some states have it easier than others.

According to a study by The Cost Guys, West Virginians only need to make $26,393 a year to become homeowners—the lowest of any U.S. state. In general, Appalachia, the Midwest, and the South are good places to live if you have your heart set on pocketing keys to your own tiny kingdom; in Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Oklahoma, you can feasibly afford a home on an annual salary below $40,000.

The West is expensive.The Cost Guys

If you live in Hawaii, on the other hand, you might end up renting for the long run; that is, unless you earn $152,676 per year (or more). Parts of the continental U.S. put up similarly high stats: Californians need to earn at least $136,600 to set up shop, and inhabitants of Colorado, Washington, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Washington, D.C. all need more than $100,000.

To come up with these figures, The Cost Guys worked off the widespread assumption that about 30 percent of your annual earnings will go toward your home—which includes mortgage, insurance, property tax, and down payment—and used median real estate values from Zillow to calculate how much that percentage would amount to.

If you’re feeling discouraged by the high price tags on homeownership, it’s worth noting that there’s plenty of room for variation. Maybe you find a home listed for much less than your state’s median value, or maybe you can negotiate a deal for a much smaller down payment than 10 percent (which is what The Cost Guys used for their analysis). There’s also the possibility that you’re able to budget a little more than 30 percent of your income toward housing costs.

You can explore more detailed info and data here.