finance

ALERT: Here are all the ways shops are secretly getting you to spend big this Christmas.

Oh my god. There is A WEEK left till Christmas.

If you’re like us, you’re probably really wishing you started buying your gifts weeks ago. Last minute panic in a packed shopping centre with long lines and festive tunes on a loop isn’t fun for anyone.

And to make matters worse, stores are naturally keen to capitalise on our gift-buying frenzy this time of year. So while you’re trying to find the perfect pressie for every relo, stores are strategically egging you on to spend more than you ever wanted.

“Why not go the extra mile this year?” they seem to say, and before you know it you’ve left the store with luxe $17 wrapping paper

Some call it marketing, others call it subtle manipulation, but if you’re in visual merchandising you probably just call it work. Judyta Hulme is one such person, but we won’t hold that against her because she’s lovely.

She also happens to be willing to spill all the secret ways shops are getting you to spend big this Christmas. Thanks, Judyta!

Before you set foot in another store, you need to read this.

Colour

Yes, you might be a smart adult capable of seeing through ornately decorated window displays, and calculated design touches, but Judyta says colour is the secret influencer that shoppers remain oblivious to. As she says, “we surrender ourselves with hues, but all colours are placed strategically to increase your spending.”

Purple, burgundy and maroon = luxury

There’s a reason why shades like purple, maroon, and burgundy dominate Christmas catalogues, decorations, and hampers, and it’s because your mind automatically associates them with luxury.

We've all been guilty of falling for the packaging when it comes to buying our beauty products. Image via Getty.

Judyta says that you'll notice the colour purple (which historically was only allowed to be used by the monarch) in a lot of high-end beauty packaging, especially in anti-aging products. Purple can make any item seem up-scale, even if it's not. Cast your mind to the majority of 'filler' products in Chrissie hampers - you're not fooling anybody, 'luxury' water crackers, and generically- boxed Christmas pudding. We see you. You're purple.

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Reds and oranges = sale markers

So when it comes to sales, the aim of the game is to make shoppers "notice but not be alarmed," says Judyta.

Sale signs in shop window, big reductions
Note the orange and the red. Image via Getty.

"When it comes to a sale, we all love a good bargain, and the use of colour is to grabbing our attention," she says.

Notice how the colour red will be used to mark an entrance of a store, yet is never used at the exit or around the till area. That's because our brains are programmed to associate the colour with danger, and it "makes us think twice before making a sale." Orange on the other hand is synonymous with "value, discounts, and a fair deal," something that home wares stores in particular utilise.

Blues and greens = positive colour reinforcement

Apparently there's a very good reason why blue is the colour of choice for financial institutions - it's because the calming shade inspires trust, security and loyalty. In a 2003 study ran by the Journal of Business Research, customers are 15 per cent more likely to return to stores with blue colour schemes than orange. According to Forbes this could be because to our ancestors the colour blue seen in "clear skies, or a watering hole," was symbolic of safety and reassurance.

Additionally, while equating the colour green with being eco-friendly comes as no surprise, Judyta says to watch out for companies that utilise the hue for marketing purposes only.

"Green has become very popular recently and its larger use attracts equal minded shoppers. But just be aware, because an item is green doesn’t mean it is organic or environmentally friendly," she says.

Millennial pink = spendy

So it turns out the popular, dusky, bubblegum pink hue is so much more then a marketing tool with a cult, 20-something following. Apparently the psychological effects of the rosy hue makes us feel calm and sedated.

"You feel good; you want to stay there longer. You’re happier to reach into your wallet," says Judyta, who notes cosmetic brands in particular love to use this shade.

via GIPHY

Matching your identity

As well as subtly influencing your surroundings and turning you into savage buying machine, stores know that if you can see the product in your wardrobe, home, or used by the person you're buying for, you're more likely to buy it.

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So visual merchandisers try to illicit a "this is so me response," to get you to emotionally attach yourself to the object.

Furniture shopping
If you can picture yourself using the item, then you're much more likely to buy it. Image via Getty.

Furniture stores are a key example of this.

"You go through their rooms, they’ve actually created rooms. You stop where you like and you shop around," says Judyta.

"It is more likely that you will buy let’s say, a few items from the section that is styled to create something like that in your house," she says.

LISTEN: For more penny pinching tips, Holly and Andrew talk how to have a thrifty Christmas without skimping on the trimmings.

When it comes to Christmas, we're even more likely to making rash purchases due to our emotional attachment to the holiday and stores are very aware of this.

For example, we've all seen immaculately decked out Christmas displays at our favourite department stores. Despite the fact Christmas in Australia is a constant 37 degrees, the snowflakes, pine cones and reindeer give you a craving for a wood fire, and cup of hot chocolate, and next thing you know you're  buying snow-flake detail napkins and singing snowman figurines.

It's essentially FOMO repackaged into seasonal, holiday decor.

When it comes to avoiding over-spending during Christmas, is anyone really safe?

Probably not.

While nobody can be truly immune to the allure of sparkling, intricately decorated Christmas tree, perhaps becoming aware of all the secret tips and tricks shops employ could help.

Judyta Hulme is a photographic stylist for Matt Blatt and her design career has taken her from London to Sydney. For more of her work you can check out her website.

Have you fallen for any of the tricks mentioned above or do you have a resolve of steel? Tell us below.

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