Special needs

Do coupons make you spend more?

A 50% off coupon leads to impulse shopping for Amy and family

By Amy Baskin
Do coupons make you spend more?

Credit: sgrace

Tal asks to go to the mall. “I want to buy a book for my sister,” she says. can we say no?
Soon we drift into a favourite store — redolent of fruity body washes, floral lotions, precious potions, make-up and more.
I unscrew a sample of lemon lip balm. “Take a sniff, Tal. Do you like it? That would help your lips stay soft.” (Talia has chapped lips. But because of sensory issues, she can’t tolerate anything on her lips. If we help her put on lip balm, she grimaces and wipes it off immediately.)
Just then, a sales-staff with black winged eye-liner approaches. She flashes us a black card and a coin. “Have you tried our scratch and save card?” she asks.
“Umm....” I say.
Smiling, she rubs the coin on the card and gasps: “Hey — you got 50% off!"
“Fifty percent off of one item?” I ask.
“No — 50% of your total purchase.”
Wow! Honestly, we're just in the store as fun activity for Talia — to browse and sniff around. But, no harm in scoring a little lip balm — for Leah....or for a friend. Or for me! At half price — it’s only a buck or two each. that price, maybe we should pick up a few other goodies. So the three of us wander through the store, sniffing, rubbing pomegranate lotion on our hands, oohing, ahhing and admiring. 
Long story short — we leave clutching a bag with $40 worth of merchandise. Sure — it’s half-price. Normally we would pay $80 for the same stuff. But we hadn't planned on buying anything at all in that store. Having a 50% off scratch card thrust in our hands threw us off. 
Attention shoppers — your turn. Do you ever impulse shop when given an unexpected coupon or scratch card?

Photo by sgrace via Flickr
This article was originally published on Dec 15, 2011

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