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Stores know how to get customer cash

Monday - 11/26/2012, 4:39am  ET

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Retail stores are learning how shoppers think and using it to get their hands on more money. (Thinkstock)

WASHINGTON - Retailers know their customers better than shoppers think.

According to The Fiscal Times, there's a science behind shopping. Some stores hire retail experts to figure out what customers want and what will get them to buy.

For one, shirts may cost a few dollars and come from Sri Lanka - but retailers sew in washing instructions that give the impression they're from France without saying it. They also fold the shirts and include photos of models wearing them in exotic places - but that doesn't mean it was made there.

Dave Ramsey, host of the syndicated talk show about money management, tells The Fiscal Times people should make a monthly budget for mall shopping and don't go over the limit.

Two-for-one deals and BOGOs are common methods retailers use to get shoppers to buy a high volume, but shoppers should be familiar with the store. It's not always a great deal.

In addition, shoppers shouldn't turn to their right when they walk into a store. Paco Underhill, author of Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping, tells The Fiscal Times. Most people are right- handed and therefore right-oriented, and stores know it. They tend to put the most tempting items, and most expensive items, to the right.

Clearance items are in the back so that shoppers get distracted as they head for the deals. Knowing this, it may be better to head to the back with blinders on. But, stores also keep the clearance section messy to encourage people to rummage and look more - and hopefully buy full-price merchandise.

The Fiscal Times also says it's important to be wary of the little items at the register - like sunglasses, lip gloss or candy. This is the store's last-ditch effort to get the credit cards out.

Finally, shopping with friends can be a debt disaster. Shoppers should be careful not to feed into each others' impulses.

WTOP's Veronica Robinson contributed to this report.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)