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11 Sneaky Ways Target Gets You to Spend More

Updated: Mar. 08, 2023

Don't let the nice music and lighting fool you.

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Starbucks coffee shop inside Target retail store, Saugus Massachusetts USA, January 19, 2019

Target makes shopping enjoyable

Target is an inviting space which encourages people to stay and leisurely spend more money. That’s why there’s a Starbucks in the front of most Target stores—so you can grab a quick cup of coffee before perusing the aisles. The ambiance and lighting are also purposefully inviting and encourage people to shop, too, according to Refinery29.com.

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AUGUST 6 2017 - CRYSTAL, MINNESOTA: A Target store has Merona clothing, their in-house women's clothing fashion line, on sale. Target is discontinuing this line of clothing

Target’s layout is purposeful

Like many other stores, Target has a large format requiring customers to walk through multiple sections to get where they need to go, thus adding to the browsing temptation, says Kristin McGrath, editor and shopping expert at Offers.com. The second you step in the door there are fun small-ticket items on display, McGrath says. The next thing people pass is the women’s clothing section which has a more boutique-like design. People have to walk by all of this before they can reach necessities like groceries, paper products, and hardware.

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Consumer Prices, San Antonio, USA - 30 May 2018
Eric Gay/AP/Shutterstock

Some Targets even have special shelves

Everything in Target is there to make shopping, or spending money, easier. That’s why the store has recently implemented angled shelves, according to Carlos Castelán, Managing Director of the Navio Group. “Target has recently begun to merchandise products with angled shelves in areas such as home and health and beauty because it allows customers to more easily spot product from the drive aisle, rather than traditional shelves that force customers to go down a long aisle of shelving to find a new product,” he says.

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LAKEWOOD, CO - NOVEMBER 23, 2017: Television sets juxtapose grocery aisles at Target on Thanksgiving during Black Friday sales. Crowds are thinner due to sales dates spread across the entire weekend.

Target places items where you’ll find them

The main way Target gets people to spend more is by tempting them to buy things that aren’t on their original shopping list. One way they do this is by putting non-essentials near the most popular and necessary items people buy most often so finding what you need, and what you might need, is easy. These products are loosely related and often complement each other. This could actually be helpful for some shoppers. It’s also useful to go in with a list including these 12 things you should always buy at Target.

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TORONTO - DECEMBER 14: A Target store on December 14, 2013 in Toronto, Canada. The Target Corporation is an American retailing company, founded in 1902 and headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Target has big red category signs

Target makes it hard to miss their deals with big, red category signs, according to Trae Bodge, smart shopping expert at TrueTrae.com. “The signs make it easy to find what you want, which makes for a pleasant shopping experience,” she says. “But this can also tempt shoppers.” You might only intend on buying a sweater for your uncle, but after seeing the “Kids” sign, you might think you’ll find something for your niece, too.

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JUNE 13 2018 - CRYSTAL, MN: Display inside of a Target retail store shows the new women's clothing "fast fashion" brand A New Day on mannequins.

Target collaborates with cool designers

People could probably buy most of what they find at Target at other stores—except when it comes to their exclusive collaborations. That’s why Target gets so many people in the door in the first place. Designer collaborations, for example, attract Target customers who might not otherwise shop at Target, Bodge says. At the same time, regular Target shoppers get to dabble in a brand that might otherwise be out of their price range. McGrath adds that limited-edition Target clothing line collaborations also have a reputation for selling out quickly, which also attracts customers. If you do decide you need clothes, make sure you remember the secret markdown schedule Target follows every week.

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Debit card fees, SEATTLE, USA
Ted S Warren/AP/Shutterstock

Target makes you trust them

Since Target brands aren’t under a “Target” label, people feel these items are special and exclusive. Although many shoppers rave about certain products, they also attract new customers, too. “They are unfamiliar, but in a store that customers are very comfortable with,” Bodge says. “So customers might be more likely to take a chance, where they might not if the products were in a freestanding shop at the mall.”

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Target Sales, Chicago, USA
M Spencer Green/AP/Shutterstock

Target sells items that mom-and-pop stores might not carry

The brand also does an excellent job of selling exclusive products from outside brands that are harder to find in small-scale stores. If you can’t buy it at your mom and pop shop, you’ll probably find it at Target. The store makes it hard to pass up buying other things while you’re there that you might shop for at another store simply because of convenience. After you purchase your specialty goods, you start adding to your cart and your bill. It’s worth splurging on the 2019 products we’re excited for Target to roll out this year.

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Target retail store busy cash register check out counters wait on customers, Saugus Massachusetts USA, January 19, 2019

Target puts their clearance items in a clever spot

Target has their clearance section towards the end of their store set up, near the checkout aisles for one last temptation. After perusing the whole store, you might think you’re getting a good deal because of the clearance label. These well-stocked bins usually have items priced between one and five dollars that are also cute and seasonally relevant, according to Bodge. Plus, Target is constantly rotating their inventory. So if you see something on clearance, there’s an added sense of urgency that you’ll miss out or that you won’t be able to get this product for that price again. This time-sensitivity pressures you into buying that item right then and there for fear of missing out on the best price. But you won’t have to worry about overspending if you remember the secret code behind Target’s pricing.

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Earns Retailers, Bridgewater, USA - 15 Nov 2018
Julio Cortez/AP/Shutterstock

Target lures you in with their seasonal goods

Every Target store has a dedicated holiday section, according to Jacqueline Gilchrist, founder of personal finance website Mom Money Map. “These seasonal products draw customers in,” she says. “As this seasonal section is at the back of the store, this gives customers an opportunity to shop every aisle in between.”

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Target Data Breach, Los Angeles, USA
Damian Dovarganes/AP/Shutterstock

Target feels like a good “in-between” store

Target makes shoppers feel like they’re somewhere nicer than cheap stores, but are still getting a better deal than they would if they were shopping at an expensive shop. As Bodge puts it, Target has similar pricing to Walmart—without the “cheapness.” Castelán calls what Target has the “cheap chic” mantra. “Design-driven thinking in its products has created the ‘cheap chic’ mantra that helps nudge customers into adding extra items to their shopping cart as well as create a sense of pride in finding something cool at Target,” he says. The problem isn’t finding cool stuff at Target—it’s spending all your money. You won’t have to worry about that if you make a note of these money-saving secrets Target employees won’t tell you.