"If you catch yourself drooling while making your Black Friday shopping list, don't be surprised," says Dr. Kit Yarrow, an author and consumer psychologist who also just happens to be a retail expert.
A retail expert? Yes, that's right! Yarrow has researched shopping trends and focuses on the psychology behind Black Friday and Cyber Monday. She uncovers consumer behavior trends about what drives the shopping public to huddle together in long Black Friday lines outside of Walmart and Best Buy, in the cold, year after year.
Yarrow's research is important because it can help maximize your efforts during the upcoming retail extravaganza, and it can help you get the best deals without going crazy and spending more money than you probably should.
When it comes to saving money, gulping down bottles of spring water is likely not the first thing that comes to mind. But according to Yarrow, "We can misinterpret hunger or thirst, for cravings for something we want to buy - we actually salivate when we see things we want to purchase," she says.
To avoid buying too many needless items and spending too much money, keep water handy while shopping, and don't forget to eat a protein bar or other handy healthy snack while waiting for the stores to open.
When we are overwhelmed by too many choices and decisions, we are more prone to act carelessly, and ultimately, spend more money. In situations like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, there's immense pressure to score the best deals before they're gone, sending the concept of saving money right into the garbage can like a crumpled ball of used wrapping paper.
"Decision overload can offend your wallet," Yarrow says. "The more decisions we make, the less attention we pay to evaluating the consequences of those decisions." For many shoppers, having a predetermined list of what to purchase before shopping begins can help minimize the possibility of overspending.
Yarrow also warns that the anxiety and excitement surrounding Black Friday and Cyber Monday can mentally cloud objective thinking. "The autonomic nervous system's arousal that accompanies a competitive shopping situation, such as Black Friday, can block logical purchase rationale and make us more prone to impulse buying," she says.
Also, be sure to allow yourself plenty of time to arrive for your shopping experience, as Yarrow explains, "If our heart is racing because we came close to missing our train, we can feel more attracted to the guy standing next to us than he deserves. Same goes for products." When shopping this year, try your best to keep a relaxed body and a calm mind, no matter how deep the discounts are.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are coming soon. But hopefully now, with the doctor's orders in hand, you can navigate these major shopping days effectively, with less stress and more money left in your wallet.