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Expert Talks About The Psychology Of Sales

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- More than 140 million people are expected to shop for deals this weekend. WCCO went in search of what it is about getting a bargain that has people flooding the stores.

The four-letter word "sale" is everywhere, and shoppers like Eric Hudson are out to find the best bang for their buck.

"We all work hard for our money, I guess, and to be able to get something that might be a little bit less than what you were planning on paying allows you to do more things," Hudson said.

Shoppers like Nancy Wistl can't seem to get enough when they're getting a bargain.

"I guess you get a good feeling inside when you save money," Wistl said.

John Tauer, Ph.D., professor of psychology at the University of St. Thomas, says the word "sale" is almost like a magnet.

"There's something inside all of us that wants a deal, and that makes sense," Tauer said. "That's a logical part of our brain saying, 'I can do a little better today than I could have done yesterday purchasing a product.'"

Tauer says stores cash in on that good feeling.

"They know exactly how to grab our attention because, in many ways, it's cognitive, it's social, it's neuroscience and it's understanding what types of triggers do people respond to," he said.

Tauer says the problem arises when people try to justify purchasing an item they may not need.

"Before you know it we've spent hundreds, if not thousands of dollars that we didn't really intend to spend, all under the premise of 'I'm getting a great deal,'" he said.

It's easy to do.

"You do see things that you decide, 'Oh, maybe I will throw that in, too,'" Wistl said. "So maybe you're not saving in the end."

Tauer suggests taking a minute to think about if you really need the item when you're out shopping. And ask yourself what's behind the reason you want to buy it.

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