Experts reveal the science behind why it's so hard to only buy one thing at Target

Posted at 10:32 PM, Dec 17, 2018

(WXYZ) — We've all done it: walked into Target for one thing, and walked out with so much more.

The urban dictionary named it the “target effect”-- and People magazine, House Beautiful, and Southern Living have all written about it.

University of Michigan business school professor Scott Rick says it all comes down smart business practices, starting with extra large shopping carts.

"Its very comfortably sized, and it matters for those purchases at the very end," Rick said. Always room for more when even large items in the basket look small!

It doesn't help that there's something fun around every corner. Whether it’s the display handbags and shoes that you can’t miss when you walk in, or the scattered trendy home items throughout, there’s something enticing with every glance you make.

And how about those dollar spot items at the front end of the store? Rick says that’s there just to get you warmed up. "When you make a little starter purchase, it can loosen the wallet and people start spending on other things." he said.

Helping you linger just a little bit longer is fact that they now have a Starbucks and cafe at the entrance. More time spent in store means more money spent from your wallet.

But if you'd like to stick to a budget, there is a way to do it! Experts say you should make a list before you shop, so you can stay focused, consider using cash or a debit card because credit encourages you to spend more, and take a friend with you. Research shows shoppers tend to spend more when they’re alone.

Target plans to renovate 2,000 stores in the next two years to make them brighter and more inviting. So it won’t be getting any easier, which is something to keep in mind if you’re trying to watch your wallet.