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How to avoid the snare of Christmas impulse buying

By Paul Kariuki | Dec 11th 2021 | 3 min read
By Paul Kariuki | December 11th 2021

A customer walks with a trolley while shopping at Naivas Supermarket Embakasi Branch. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

It is that season to be jolly, again! The season when many people go out of their way to impress.

And after the excesses of the December holidays, reality hits them hard in January, with the bills coming in thick and fast.

But it does not have to be this way. It is possible to cut down on unnecessary spending when it comes to holiday season shopping. Here is how.

1. Have a shopping list

Christmas shopping has become ritualistic for many. Sample a situation where you walk into a supermarket without a definite plan on what you want to buy. This leaves you open to buying just anything that comes to mind. Making a shopping list instead of impulsive spending can help one narrow down on the things they need.

This would go a long way in cutting down unnecessary expenses. Some gifts are unnecessary and may not be of immediate benefit or have any sentimental value to the recipient. Your shopping list should prioritise the items you intend to buy, starting with the most necessary to the least necessary, such as trinkets.

2. Beware of marketing tricks

Marketers are good at placing irresistible bargain items where everyone will see them. This makes it hard for shoppers to resist the urge to put such items in their shopping cart. It may be prudent to take advantage of the discounts, but many people do not question the quality of items on offer. One of the tricks retailers adopt to make consumers shop more is placing some essential items like sugar and cooking oil in hidden places.

By the time shoppers access such places, they will have passed shelves with irresistible offers that are hard to ignore. Here, you’re tempted to amend the shopping list on the spot to include unbudgeted items. It is better to stick to your list; get in, find what you want, and get out. And if you think amending your shopping list, do it beforehand.

3. Beware of freebies

Beware of the smooth-talking salespeople strategically placed along the supermarket rows to convince you to buy their merchandise. The Christmas period tends to be a season of freebies, and it is common to hear of offers of “buy one, get one free” or purchasing a particular item gets you in the running to win a prize like a goat or cash reward. This is a well-calculated move to make you spend more! Carry enough cash to cover your budgeted expenses. If your shopping list adds up to Sh1500, don’t carry Sh2,000. As a rule of thumb, leave your credit and debit cards at home.

4. That nice smell arouses the taste buds

Many supermarkets have a kitchen section where a range of bakery products like pastries, cakes, cupcakes and puddings. Your taste buds are aroused as you walk into this section. Some times, chefs will let you sample certain dishes before urging you to buy. This ends up distorting your budget.

5. Don’t be wooed by that cool music

Watch out for that soothing music; it is meant to put you in a festive mood, making you linger as you subconsciously shop more.

6. Look out for that 50 per cent discount sales pitch

This is another trick where you believe you’re getting one of two items at half-price under the guise of “buy one, get one free.”

The truth, however, is that discounts could be as low as 15 per cent. Such discounted prices could be for items that are about to expire.

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