With Christmas only just over, shoppers have been shocked by the sight of none other than Easter Eggs available on supermarket shelves – several months ahead of the big day. Despite this happening every year, the reason behind the premature display remains a mystery to most.
However, according to an expert, it’s actually a sneaky psychological trick that convinces shoppers to spend more money, as they buy the products now, then again in several months’ time closer to Easter.
Speaking to the Mirror, Dr Cathrine Jansson-Boyd, a consumer psychologist from Anglia Ruskin University, has explained how shoppers think that by buying products in advance they are being “practical” but they actually end up spending more in the long run.
“The reason why [supermarkets] do it is that often [the seasonal items] are on special offers,” she began. “People are then thinking ‘ooh but it’s cheap now and if I buy them now, I can store them and keep buying things little by little, then I don’t have to pay it all out at the point in time when perhaps I need to buy lots of it’.
“That’s the reasoning for why they’re doing it – in order to get the consumer to think it’s practical for them. However, that is not why they’re doing it – if you start buying mince pies in October because you want to put them away for December, you think ‘ooh I’ll have one’ and then you have two and then you’ve eaten them and then you go and buy a new packet.
“Then as it’s coming up to the festive period, you’ll buy another one. So it’s not because the shops want to start Christmas in October or Easter in January, it’s just purely to get people to buy more and little by little you’ll spend twice as much.”
The expert goes on to say that we often feel like we have to keep buying more of these items for ourselves and loved ones as “we’ve been conditioned for a long time to think that consumption is important” and it’s very hard to change that view.
“You want to give the people you love as many things as possible to show that you care, because the items are the equivalent of importance and caring.
“We are conditioned, whether we like it or not, it’s just the way life has gone and I think we need to become dematerialised and understand that material possessions are not important.”
She adds: “What’s really tragic in psychology is that there are a lot of studies that show that social experience with others makes us much happier and is better for our mental health, than receiving a gift from someone.”