5 Sneaky Sales Tactics Retail Shops in Singapore Use to Get You to Spend Money

5 Sneaky Sales Tactics Retail Shops in Singapore Use to Get You to Spend Money

It’s July again and that means it’s time for the Great Singapore Sale. You know, that annual tradition that retail shops in Singapore go through called LYING. What do I mean? We all know of shops that pretend they can’t give you a discount for the rest of the year, but suddenly in the middle of the year you’re able to buy them at “RIDICULOUS” prices.

And after that? They’ve made so much money from the Great Singapore Sale they never need to give you any other discounts for the rest of the year. It’s a vicious cycle. Here are 5 other sales tactics that you can expect to see this time around:


1. Increasing the price before the “big” sale or discount

I love it when a price tag indicates a crossed-out value and the initials “U.P.” for usual price. Many retail shops use this particular tactic because it works. The second you can see just how much you’re “saving” by buying an item, you’re more likely to spend on it. For example, if you see a price tag that says “$99, U.P. $159”, you’d be thinking that you’re saving $60! Or almost 40% off!

However, they’re relying on the fact that no one’s actually going to check what the “usual price” of this item was! How often would you actually visit a shop and take note of the prices when there’s no sale going on?

Say this pair of jeans that you’re buying is actually only priced at $109 usually. By selling it at $99, they’re really only giving you a discount of $10, or less than 10%! With such a “low” discount, you don’t feel like you’re saving as much, so it’s harder to convince you to get a pair.


2. Giving discount vouchers instead of instant savings

How often have you seen signs like these – “Spend $80 today and save $20”? That’s a 25% discount, you think – not a bad deal. You spend the whole day looking around the shop for items that meet that spending amount. You debate with yourself over which item is more urgent. You realise you just need a few more dollars so you end up buying something you don’t really want. When you’re finally done, you happily bring them to the cashier to get your $20 discount.

Except instead of getting a discount off your current purchase? You get a $20 voucher. For the same store. When you raise a complaint, they calmly point you to the terms and conditions of the promotion which say that the $20 is off your next purchase. So you’re going to have to come back again and spend more money in the store. Which is the point.

Another tactic is to have vouchers that expire quickly. Say you receive the voucher in July – the expiry date of the voucher is probably no later than September. Chances are, you won’t need to buy anything else from the shop during this two to three month period. However, because you have a voucher, you feel obliged to use it, lest it be “wasted”.


3. Setting a minimum spending limit

One of the biggest complaints shoppers have is the minimum spending requirement – this is especially so when it comes to credit card promotions. Take UOB Cards, for example. They’re giving away a free lunch buffet and glass of champagne during this Great Singapore Sale to 5,000 lucky cardholders. All you gotta do is spend at least $1,500 during a two month period.

$1,500. In two months.

Well, that’s fine, you say, while anxiously doing some mental calculations in your head. There’s the dress I’ve been eyeing. And that cardigan. And at least three pairs of shoes. And let’s not forget the bags… Easily done. But wait, there are more terms and conditions. The $1,500 has to be spend within a maximum of 3 eligible transactions.

$1,500. In 3 transactions. Or less.

Fine. I’ll just buy that ridiculously overpriced laptop please. And cry about it while the retailer is laughing all the way to the bank. UOB Bank.


4. “Buy two get one free” deals

This is a particularly effective tactic that retail shops use. “Effective” because it pretty much works on me. All the time.

On one hand, it does seem like a pretty foolproof deal. You’re going shopping after all – you want to get at least one item. Then you see this “buy two get one free” deal. Even though you don’t need three items, but because you’re getting the cheapest one free, you’re going to have one of two reactions.

You could be extremely calculative about it. You only want one item, but you decide to buy two more just to enjoy the promotion. In fact, you get two items that cost the same as the one you want – that way you’ll be maximising the deal. After all, the “cheapest” one is free – if they’re all equally expensive, you’re basically getting a 33% discount. Except you’ve probably just spent a whole lot of cash and bought at least one item you probably don’t even want or need, just because of this “buy two get one free” deal.

On the other hand, you could try to beat the system. Like I did. I didn’t need three shirts. I just needed one. I didn’t see the point of paying twice the amount I was expecting to spend, even though I would get three shirts. So I just bought one shirt and left the shop pretty pleased.

I accidentally ruined that shirt the next day with an iron.


5. “Daily deals”

I bet retail stores got this idea from Steam. Officially, Steam is one of the most popular digital game stores in the world. Unofficially, Steam is the reason why there are almost a million unplayed games in people’s computers. But why would people buy games that they’ll never get around to playing? It’s all because of these crazy deals that happen year round, but especially in the middle of the year.

What happens is that prices are slashed by a ridiculous amount, sometimes 50% off, sometimes 75% off. But only for a limited period of time, say 24 hours. It’s anyone’s guess if they’ll ever be priced that low ever again. Spoiler alert: Yes, they will. And sooner than you suspect.

But because the prices are so “low”, you’re prepared to spend money to take advantage of it. Often, this happens when you weren’t even planning to spend in the first place. How many of you have been drawn to a “Closing Down – Last Day” sale? Only to realise that of the seven items you bought that day, you didn’t need any of them after all.


So now that you know some of the tactics these retail shops use, go out there and spend wisely! Of course, always bring the best shopping credit card to maximise your spending.

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