How to Use “Doorbuster” Sales to Your Advantage

Occasionally, retailers will offer an item on sale at a ridiculous, hilarious discount in order to lure you into their stores.

Your grocery store's weekly circular might offer, for example, 3 liter jugs of olive oil at half price, or 28-ounce cans of tomatoes at a third the regular price, and so on. Department stores often offer doorbuster sales on specific appliances or small electric items that they happen to have in excess supply. (To learn more about why products go on sale like this, read this post.)

It's lovely that retailers do this of course, but remember: retailers are not charities. They don't offer doorbusters out of the goodness of their hearts or just to be nice. Far from it. The central idea behind a doorbuster sale is this: the retailer is willing to lose money on this item because it thinks, by luring you to the store, that you'll spend enough money on other things to more than make up the difference.

Everybody already knows this technique, except somehow we still end up picking up several extra items "while we were there"... playing neatly into the retailer's hands.

I always savored the word "doorbuster" because it evokes an image of hundreds, even thousands, of customers swarming a store and literally busting down the doors to get at a sale item. And this image points at why doorbuster sales are both tool and trap for the consumer. To an empowered consumer who understands the rhythm and various cycles of retailing, it's a powerful savings tool--assuming two things:

1) The item is genuinely, substantially discounted, offered at a price well below its value,
2) The customer actually needs the item, and would have bought it anyway.

Otherwise, it's a trap. If it's an item you don't need but buy anyway because it's ON SALE! you've fallen for one of oldest tricks in retailing. And it's an even bigger trap if it draws you into a store to spend money you didn't intend to on items you had no real intention of buying in the first place.

Therefore, as oversimplified as it sounds, the key is to just buy the doorbuster item. An empowered consumer never lets a doorbuster cost her money she didn't intend to spend. Recognize the game and don't fall for it. Go into the store, pick up the item and only that item, and then walk out, metaphorically rubbing your hands with glee* for the legitimately great deal you just got. Don't forget to pay for it.

Readers, what do you think? How do you take best advantage of doorbuster items?

Read Next: Desire Triggering

* If you wish to literally rub your hands with glee, I suggest waiting until you get into your car and no one can see you.

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