A retail store is a sum of subtle, careful spatial decisions: Essentials such as toilet paper or milk are at the back of the store, where shoppers can’t access them without first encountering higher-margin products, such as clothing or toys. Stores are set up to be navigated clockwise, so right-handed shoppers can easily push a cart and grasp at shelved items with their dominant arm. Many stores are lightly perfumed, because pleasant scents have been shown to make people more impulsive.
But as people have started visiting stores with a more tightly-defined idea of what they want, retailers’ siren songs are falling on deaf ears. “Consumers are now conditioned to shop for specific items and it’s not just affecting online consumer psyche but offline consumer psyche as well,” one retail consultant told The Wall Street Journal. Because of how people are shopping online, they're buying only what they need, ignoring the rest, and then leaving. They’ve built up their own defenses against retailers' strategies.
But, practically speaking, how are they doing this without succumbing to tactics that have been successful for decades? For one thing, some consumers set up rules for themselves. The Wall Street Journal recently tailed some Wisconsinites in a grocery store, and observed their decisions. Some couples make a point of shopping together, so they can put checks on each other’s impulses. Others eschew shopping carts, because they’re wary of feeling the need to fill them up.