Posts tagged ‘shopping’

Why It’s Called Black Friday

By Chad Upton | Editor

The term “Black Friday”, originally referred to Friday, September 24 1869, when the value of gold plummeted. It happened because a couple of speculators allegedly drove the price up, telling investors it would increase in value because the government was going to buy it, but the federal government actually sold a significant amount of their gold, which flooded the market and caused the value to plummet. For many investors, it was their financial doomsday.

The contemporary meaning of “Black Friday” refers to the day after US Thanksgiving. This meaning comes from Philadelphia Police, cab and bus drivers. They called it black Friday because they are overwhelmed as huge numbers of people go shopping and cause havoc to their normal routines.

It’s often referred to as the busiest day of the year for retailers, but that’s not entirely true. It is the day when they have the highest number of people in their store, but it’s not normally the highest day of sales for the year, although it’s usually in the top ten.

Update: A couple of comments mentioned the idea that the “Black Friday” name refers to the time when retailers finally turn a profit for the year, moving from “red” ink into “black” on their income statement. Before researching this post, I thought that was the reason too. Wikipedia does mention this idea as an “alternative” explanation that emerged sometime after the term was coined by police, cabs and bus drivers in Philadelphia. Unfortunately, Wikipedia does not provide any sources to indicate that this is a fact for retailers. Although there are many sources that mention this idea, I cannot find any hard data that indicates any retailer operates without profit until the last 6 weeks of the year. If anyone finds any data that shows this, I’d love to include it in this post — it would definitely have significance in the meaning of “Black Friday.”

Broken Secrets

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Photo: Richard Roberson (cc)

Sources: Wikipedia (Black Friday 1869, Black Friday Shopping)

November 26, 2010 at 2:00 am 5 comments

Grocery Store Designs are Based on Psychology

By Kaye Nemec

Grocery stores design their floor-plan and shelf layouts based on sales data, practical research and even psychology.

From the placement of flower, produce and bakery departments to the detailed way each shelf is stocked, researchers have spent years studying the psychology of grocery store design in order to maximize profits. That’s right, it’s not about making the store work the best for the shopper, it’s about making the shopper work for the store.

When you walk into your local grocery store you will, most likely, walk into fresh produce and fresh flowers and you can probably see and smell the bakery just around the next corner.

Flowers and fresh baked goods are placed close to the entrance to stimulate the shopper with the varying sights, scents and tastes. These departments have very high margins, so the store is betting you’ll spend extra time browsing, take in all of the fresh sights and scents and, hopefully, picking up a few items you didn’t intend to buy. When you are exposed to such a pleasant scene at the entrance your mind is comforted with the notion that this store has fresh items. It also activates your salivary glands which makes you more likely to purchase impulse items that are not on your list.

Staple items, or the items that consumers purchase most often, such as: bread, milk and eggs, are typically placed at the very back of the store or in the corners. If you wanted to make a quick trip to get a gallon of milk and a loaf of bread, you are forced to walk past several other aisles and sections of the store that are filled with tempting items for you to toss in your cart.

If you’ve ever taken kids to the grocery store you may have noticed how easily they’re able to grab items like sugary cereal, Mac & Cheese, cookies and other highly advertised products.

The cereal aisle is a great example of how stores stock shelves so items that appeal to kids are at their eye level.  Typically the “healthy” cereals, like granola and bran, are at the very top of the shelf. Towards the bottom you’ll find bulk items like bags of cereal and jumbo boxes. And right in the middle, at the eye level of your children, you’ll find things like Trix, Fruit Loops, Lucky Charms etc. Kids are able to grab these cereals themselves or beg their parents to add them to the cart.

They also happen to be some of the higher margin cereals. The same principle is used in most aisles, the items with the most profit are in the “Thigh to Eye” zone where customers will see them first.

Many stores also charge manufacturers a “listing fee” (aka Slotting Fee) to place a product on their shelves. If you’ve got a great idea for a product, you’ll probably have to cough up tens of thousands of dollars just to put that product on the shelf at your local supermarket. These fees are paid once for the lifetime of each SKU, but if the product is not selling well then the item will be not be carried any longer and you won’t get your listing fee back.

Placing a product on an aisle’s end cap is usually an additional fee that manufacturers pay when they want to further promote a product. Some stores also limit the number of brands in a specific category and companies may pay to be the exclusive brand in that category.

These are all ways that retailers make additional money and give the manufacturers some control over how you find their products.

Now that you know some grocery store secrets, you can avoid their traps. Always go to the store with a list and stick to it. Only buy the items you need; avoid walking down aisles that don’t relate to your list. If you bring kids with you, make sure they are aware of your list and don’t give in to their begging.

Broken Secrets

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Sources: Frugal For Life, All Sands, Listing Fees

Photo: J-P F (cc)

September 8, 2010 at 5:00 am 10 comments

How to Get the Best Price When Shopping Online

The internet has completely changed bargain hunting and finding the best price couldn’t be any easier.

I like to use Google products (formerly known as “Froogle”). It compares prices at thousands of retailers and show you the best deals along with ratings for each retailer.

Google products also searches sites like ebay. Although, it’s worthwhile checking ebay independently, there are lots of auctions for new products or if you’re willing to take a used one then you’ll get a great deal. If you’ve looking for something that doesn’t ship well, such as appliances, be sure to check or (owned by ebay). They let you search for products in your area so shipping is not necessary.

Sometimes the best price is at a website you’ve never heard of. This is when customer ratings and common sense are really helpful. If you’ve never heard of the retailer and can’t find a phone number for the office on the site, then I probably wouldn’t order from them. Amazon might be the only exception to this and in fact they’re one of my favorite online retailers, they frequently have the best price and their shipping and customer service are great.

If you’re searching for cameras, be weary of small companies based in New York City. They usually have the best price on camera equipment, but there are lots of online horror stories about some of these companies.


February 26, 2010 at 12:48 am Leave a comment

Shop at Off-Peak Hours for Time Savings

I’ve said it before, I love bananas. But there is one kind of bananas I do not like, busy grocery stores!

I went to my local supermarket yesterday to pickup a few things. Being Super Bowl Sunday, it was pretty much the worst day to go grocery shopping. Normally, I would just go another day but I needed some things for later in the day (like most other people there I’m sure).

All the cart bumping and line shoving could have been avoided if I just went early in the morning or late the night before. That’s what I usually do — try to go shopping around 8pm-9pm, that includes any stores that are open late (ex. Target). Many stores are now until 10pm and some are open 24 hours. I try to take advantage of these hours since I usually get the store to myself. It actually makes shopping peaceful and efficient. (more…)

February 8, 2010 at 12:48 am Leave a comment

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