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Resisting the Temptation of Holiday Sales from an Expert on Consumer Behavior

Nov 22, 2022
Kelly Goldsmith offers 3 tips to stay on budget as retailers bring on the bargains this holiday season

By Lacie Blankenship

Thanksgiving deals, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday are the unsung heroes of the holiday season, or at least they used to be. Holiday sales are beginning earlier, spread out farther, and last longer. This year is no exception. 

Kelly Goldsmith

Retailers stocked up on inventory months ago to avoid bare shelves and get ahead of supply chain shortages. Since then, plans for a robust shopping season have been derailed by accelerating inflation rates. Inflation has forced the hand of many shoppers, with a third of consumers reporting that they plan to spend less this holiday season. Retailers are responding with bigger and better holiday promotions. For consumers on a tight budget, these bargains can be distracting. Kelly Goldsmith, E. Bronson Ingram Professor of Marketing, has advice for those trying to stay on track with their holiday shopping.

Make a list and check it twice. 

Sale signs, holiday music, and promotional emails can distract shoppers from their mission. Creating a list of who to shop for and establishing a firm per-person budget is a great strategy to cut down on impulse spending. 

“Just like Santa Claus, make a list of names, make a list of presents, make a budget for those gifts on that list, and then stick to it,” says Goldsmith. 

Avoid temptation. 

Do you already know the perfect gift for the people on your list? 

Avoid unnecessary exposure to retail environments. Skip the store and order online. Delete promotional emails. These are easy ways to avoid spending extra.  

“It doesn’t matter how good the deal may seem. If you don’t need it, it’s not a good deal,” says Goldsmith. “You may just be there for the flatscreen, but they have a great deal on diapers… And the next thing you know, you’re walking out to your car and don’t even know what’s in your cart.”  

Some of the holiday deals gain extra attention because of their promoted scarcity. For example, items marked with a limit per person or stores that claim to have limited quantities of bargain items. 

“At a certain point, with the scarcity that is baked into Black Friday, the thought process turns from ‘I need to get this for my own sake,’ to ‘I need to get this, so other people don’t,” says Goldsmith. 

Do your research. 

“There’s a universe of possibilities with all the deals out there,” says Goldsmith. “You can scan many stores and deal sites online in minutes. Right now, it’s so easy to do just a little bit of work and find the best possible deal.” 

There are sales around every corner and all over the web. Shopping in-store doesn’t limit options; many retailers offer price matching to in-store shoppers. Plus, you can always search online to ensure the best deal! 

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