Every time I get to the register at Target, I am shocked and appalled by how much money I have spent. As someone who has learned how to budget during the last year, I can't walk into the store unless I know it's for something that I absolutely need and cannot get anywhere else.
I used to chalk this up to the time of day I was shopping. I'm a night owl and tend to make a Target run after a nightly gym session. Maybe, I thought, I was wound up and in a shopping state of mind. Maybe it was because subconsciously I wasn't ready to go home, unwind, and head to bed. I found myself in the deepest corners of the store, looking at things I couldn't possibly ever use but wanted anyway.
Then I realized it's not just me who has no self-control when it comes to a visit to Target. It's EVERYONE.
As a journalist, I wanted to know why this could possibly be. How could one retailer get me to spend so. much. freaking. money? So I set out to find the answer for me and for you, because money does not grow on trees. When I found a good source, I begged them for information. Coming from corporate, this person knew what goes on behind the scenes and gave me a bit of insight into what goes in to every store. Here's what they told me, anonymously.
The store is bright. It's fun. It's open for the most part, with aisles flanking the sides. Those aisles contain bright, fun colors as well as staples. The end-caps to those aisles have eye-catching products on them. Sometimes these are special items; sometimes they are just merchandised creatively. Either way, the end-caps are meant to entice you to walk down the aisles looking for more items that are similar to the one you were attracted to in the first place. It's there where you find that pair of emoji socks that you just have to have right now for no other reason than that they're funny.
The open sections of the store are meant to encourage browsing and lingering. Therefore, if you are looking for one black tank top because you just need one black tank top, you've now found two new sweaters, a stellar pair of leggings, a cute dress for date night, and a new hat. Did I mention you totally forgot about the black tank top you needed? Well, there's your reason for returning (which is exactly what they want you to do!).
Target contributed to LaCroix's popularity, a fact we are so thankful for. (Praise be to that bubbly nectar of the gods.) This is just one example of the impact Target's serious product selection skills have on consumers. The brand walks the line between bringing in new and exciting things while staying true to the goods that have made it a go-to for many people. The company also has an intriguing private-label program and is tough on exclusivity with new products.
Also, because Target is always freshening the assortment and often does not replenish products once they're gone (depending on department), it creates a "buy now" mentality with its customers. If you see pamplemousse LaCroix, you better purchase it ASAP, because it may not be there next week. That top you love? Grab it while you can, because when it's gone, it's gone.
The circular dictates a lot and is always changing. Corporate creates sales based on seasons, close-outs, and consumer shopping trends. Sometimes buyers are pressured, needing to drop the price on one category and still trying to figure out how to make sales numbers (sales dollars and units are measured differently), while others feel the circular is a blessing. Either way, the constant stream of new sales and the strategy behind them make it easy to spend extra dollars.
There was a rumor going around the interwebs that one of the reasons you spend so much money at the store is because it's quiet. My source would not confirm or deny the music rumor. However, beginning late last year, Target started adding background music to stores, so jury's still out on whether the lack of music was one of the reasons your wallet is so much lighter after you leave.