The next time consumers struggle to resist clearance sales, they could be taking a few tips from a Psychology Today blog that gives insight into the vulnerability against a bargain.

In the blog, author Kit Yarrow, a professor of psychology and marketing at Golden Gate University in San Francisco, lists five common sales weaknesses and ways for consumers to combat poor decision making. Here are a few:

Fear of Missing Out

January sales are typically clearance sales. We know that means when something is sold, our opportunity to buy is gone. This inspires a fear of "missing out" that we often don't consciously notice -- which enhances the power of our emotional reaction. The solution is to make a list of coveted items and only buy what you're sure wanted before it went on sale.


The fear of "missing out" is heightened by the knowledge that you're competing with others. For many this turns into what I like to call competitive sport shopping. Winning is the goal, sometimes even more so than what we're buying. Time is the solution. Take time and few calm moments to level off the excitement of the moment. It'll reduce the chance of making ultimately an unsatisfying purchase.

Assumed Value

Oddly enough we rely on the price charged for merchandise to understand its value. Most people don't understand why one pair of shoes is $80 and another $400. So we rely on the price as a measure of quality and style. The cure is to imagine the sale price as the initial, unreduced price and ask yourself if you'd be as excited.

Read more about consumer behavior.

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