Why every trip to Target ends up costing $100 or more

Understanding the 'Target effect'
Posted at 11:20 AM, Oct 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-17 11:22:35-04

As the holiday season approaches, many of us will be heading to Target to buy gifts.

But have you ever noticed that when you go into Target to buy a couple of $10 items you end up spending $75 or more?

We've all done it: we have walked into Target for detergent and walked out with a new lamp, candles, an area rug, two plastic bins and a $125 bill.

It's so common that there's now a name for it.

Urban Dictionary calls it the "Target effect," and People Magazine, House Beautiful and Southern Living have all written about it.

How does it happen?    

Marketing experts say most Target stores:

  • Start with extra-large shopping carts, almost a third larger than most grocery store carts.
  • Set a Starbucks near the entrance so you'll sip a latte and linger longer.
  • Hit you with a "dollar" display of cute items right away, even though many of the items cost more than $1.
  • Display handbags, scarves, hats and shoes prominently as you walk in so you can't miss them.
  • Scatter hip, trendy home items throughout the store.
  • Entice you with a brightly lit cosmetics section right before you hit the checkout lines.

Why you may soon pay even more

And you may end up spending even more at Target in the future.

Target plans to renovate 2,000 stores in the next two years to make them brighter and more inviting. More inviting? If you're trying to watch your wallet, this could be a problem.

That means more displays like those Chip and Joanna Gaines Magnolia Home items, so cute they catch your attention like a kitten with a shiny object.

The easiest way to avoid overspending is the old fashioned way: pay with cash. if you bring just $30 cash to any store, there's no temptation to spend more and you don't waste your money. (Of course you won't be able to buy that awesome candle set, though.)


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