Retailers like Trader Joe’s, DSW, T.J. Maxx, Costco, BJ’s, and Dollar Tree lure you in to buy one thing, but then count on the impulse buy for unexpected treasures at bargain prices.
Goodies at Trader Joe’s aren’t on most grocery lists, but they’re eye-catching enough to tempt shoppers into an impulse buy. At a time when families are watching dollars and the Web makes discount-hunting easy, unexpected treasures are an increasingly important strategy for stores.
So shoppers may go into T.J. Maxx or a DSW shoe store looking for a bargain on something they need but end up splurging on irresistible finds, from dirt-cheap Ray-Bans to half-priced Puma sneakers.
Costco has been using the term “treasure hunt” for years to explain why up to a fifth of its stock is limited-quantity items that are in the store for as little as a week. Sometimes it’s seasonal merchandise, often it’s surprisingly trendy.
The quick turnover of merchandise creates a sense of urgency: If you don’t buy it today, it probably won’t be here tomorrow. When the economy tanked, TJX began cycling inventory through the store faster than ever before. A rapidly changing assortment is the top driver of traffic, especially when stores are competing with the Internet.
Superstores like Kmart and Walmart are getting stung by online competition. Any mass-market product — think Jif peanut butter or Hanes T-shirts — can be comparison-priced online, and people tend to buy from the cheapest source. Increasingly, that’s Amazon.com or another Web retailer.