How to Guard Yourself From Flash Sales

Rue La La. Zulily. Gilt Groupe. These sites have garnered millions of hits using "flash sales," which involves combing through thousands of deal offers and sending out the best ones in a daily email to registrants. In fact, flash-sale sites received 46.4 million total U.S. visits in March 2012, an increase of 31 percent over March 2011, according to Experian Hitwise, a surveyor of online consumer behavior.

Kit Yarrow, a professor of psychology and marketing at Golden Gate University in San Francisco, says flash-sale sites are designed to tap into the most vulnerable aspects of our shopping psychology--and they can be quite devastating for people who can't resist them.

[See 10 Ways to Avoid Online Scams.]

These sites feed on a person's desire to find a "good deal," rendering shoppers overly focused on the hunt for bargains and under-focused on their need for the product. After exposing them to products they didn't know they wanted, shoppers are then forced into a hasty purchase decision through shotgun starts and immediate purchase requirements. "Most of these sites give you about 10 minutes to make a decision. In that state of excitement, people tend to not think as clearly," Yarrow says. "It clouds their decision-making process, and putting a time limit on that makes it a lot easier to make a mistake."

Those kinds of bad purchases are also a result of the strong psychological pull these websites have on consumers. "For some of them, it's an adventure. For others, it's a stress-reducer," Yarrow says. Learning how to resist that rewards-fulfilling behavior proves troublesome for many people.

April Lane Benson, author of To Buy or Not to Buy: Why We Overshop and How to Stop, says people are drawn to the sites because they like the idea of a sale, and one that's particularly convenient since it's just a click away. Benson says they also like the exclusivity, given that a number of flash sales sites are for members only. "It's a fast, secret thrill," she says. Anonymity also lures shoppers in, because an online purchase eliminates any guilt felt during an in-store shopping spree.

"With these websites, even their names have this aspirational quality to them," says Elizabeth Cline, author of the forthcoming book Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion. Cline says people see designer and high-end clothes as status items. "The idea that you can own something like that without paying the typical high-end prices for it is really alluring for people," she says.

[See How to Battle Shopping Addiction.]

When shopping for high-end merchandise on flash sales, people also fall victim to sales simply because they think they're getting a deal. "We don't have a really good gauge of what clothing is actually worth and what it should actually cost," Cline says. "If we did, we wouldn't be tempted to spend quite as much on these websites."

Benson says flash-sale websites are extremely addictive. "They prey on the fear that if you don't get it now, you're never going to be able to have it," she says. "For somebody who's vulnerable to overspending, I think they're tremendously addictive."

If you fall into that category, you'll need to take certain steps to protect yourself from racking up a ton of credit card debt on these sites. Here's how to stop yourself from overspending on flash sales:

Hit unsubscribe. It's a simple step, but it's arguably the first and most important one to take. Benson says by unsubscribing, you'll get rid of the temptation brought on by daily emails. Yarrow agrees: "A dieter who's presented with 'cookie or no cookie?' is not going to do as well as someone who doesn't keep cookies in the house. The same goes for flash sales."

Shop with purpose. Don't just get on the Internet and start browsing. "Shop for something specific," Benson advises. "And allocate a reasonable time for the process." Setting a timer will also help keep your shopping to a minimum. Cline adds, "You should always know what you need in your wardrobe, rather than just seeing what's on sale and buying whatever looks good."

Don't bookmark. Remove all shopping sites from your "favorite places" directory. "If you have to keep a list of Internet shopping sites, make it a written list--something you can't simply click on," Benson advises.

[See How Safe is Your Safe Money?]

Beware of getting on a roll. Once you've made the first purchase, Benson says your resistance to further buying drops sharply. So don't quickly and impulsively add a few more items to your shopping cart that you hadn't intended to buy. "People have to think about what they're really shopping for, and I guarantee it's not that eighth pair of black boots," Benson says.

Remember what's at stake. Yarrow says to keep your credit card balance taped to your computer screen as a reminder to stay focused on the spending part of the equation, not just the hunt and bargain aspect. "You might think in the short-term that these items equate to happiness, but there's nothing that will make you feel better than not having debt in your life," she says.

Set a budget--and stick to it. Know what you want to spend annually on clothing. Then gauge whether you can afford an item based on how much of your budget you've already spent. "I think the national average is about $1,100 a year on clothing," Cline says. "For most of these flash sales, you're going to hit that budget pretty quickly."

More From US News & World Report


Get stories like this on the Yahoo app and discover more every day.
Download it now.
  • Anchorvale Lane EC site draws 16 bids
    Anchorvale Lane EC site draws 16 bids The Edge Property - 6 minutes ago

    The tender for Anchorvale Lane executive condo site in Sengkang has been closed after attracting 16 bids, according to HDB.“The tender results reflect a close race amongst the market’s seasoned players,” says Desmond Sim, Head, CBRE Research, … More »

  • Oil prices fall on U.S. crude stocks build; fears over China demand Reuters - 12 minutes ago

    Oil prices fell early on Wednesday as an unexpected build in U.S. crude stocks weighed on markets, along with concerns that Chinese crude demand could falter as Beijing clamps down on alleged tax evasion in the oil industry. International Brent … More »

  • Mind the air-gap: Singapore's web cut-off balances security, inconvenience Reuters - 31 minutes ago

    Singapore is working on how to implement a policy to cut off web access for public servants as a defence against potential cyber attack - a move closely watched by critics who say it marks a retreat for a technologically advanced city-state that has … More »

  • Cat Cafes In Singapore - Which Ones Are Value For Money?
    Cat Cafes In Singapore - Which Ones Are Value For Money? - 33 minutes ago

    For all you kitty lovers who don't have cats of your own, cat cafes are important establishments... … More »

  • 4 Signs It's Time To Change Your Life
    4 Signs It's Time To Change Your Life - 33 minutes ago

    Are you a stressed out Singaporean who's often too fatigued to care about how you're actually... … More »

  • Dollar edges up, as investors wait on Fed, Jackson Hole
    Dollar edges up, as investors wait on Fed, Jackson Hole Reuters - 47 minutes ago

    The dollar edged up on Wednesday, moving off lows touched against the yen overnight, as markets looked to a gathering of global central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming for clues on whether the Federal Reserve is poised to hike interest rates again. … More »

  • Asian stocks consolidate after Wall Street gains, oil slips Reuters - 53 minutes ago

    By Saikat Chatterjee HONG KONG (Reuters) - Asian stocks consolidated a recent run of gains on Wednesday, helped by Wall Street's rise overnight, even as oil prices slid on trade data showing a surprise ... … More »

  • Oil Declines on Glut Concern as Asian Shares Rise; Rand Rebounds Bloomberg - 1 hour 0 minutes ago

    Crude dropped as much as 1.3 percent in New York after American Petroleum Institute figures showed that U.S. inventories increased by 4.46 million barrels last week. Shares rose in Japan and Australia, while stock index futures foreshadowed gains … More »

  • China’s Postal Bank Said to Seek Approval for $8 Billion IPO (1) Bloomberg - 1 hour 8 minutes ago

    The Beijing-based bank plans to seek approval from the Hong Kong bourse on Aug. 25, according to the people, who asked not to be identified as the information is private. Postal Savings Bank, ubiquitous in small-town China, joins Bank of Tianjin … More »

  • Qantas Pays First Dividend Since 2009 After Record Profit (2) Bloomberg - 1 hour 20 minutes ago

    The nation’s biggest carrier will pay a final dividend of 7 Australian cents a share and buy back as much as A$366 million ($279 million) of stock, according to a filing Wednesday. Joyce, who has cut thousands of jobs, deferred aircraft orders and … More »

  • Tokyo stocks extend global rally in opening trade AFP - 1 hour 22 minutes ago

    Tokyo stocks opened higher on Wednesday, extending a rally on global markets. The benchmark Nikkei 225 index climbed 0.32 percent, or 52.85 points, to 16,550.21 in opening deals, while the broader Topix ... … More »

  • MLQU is home in QC
    MLQU is home in QC Philippine Star - 1 hour 33 minutes ago

    Following exponential growth in its law enrollment rate in school year 2015-2016, Manuel L. Quezon University made another significant move to Quezon City last Aug. 19, coinciding with the 138th birth anniversary of the city’s visionary and former … More »

  • 4 Major Misconceptions Singaporeans Have About Their Critical Illness Insurance Plan - 1 hour 35 minutes ago

    Find out if you have the same misconceptions about your critical illness insurance The post 4 Major Misconceptions Singaporeans Have About Their Critical Illness Insurance Plan appeared first on … More »

  • North Korea Successfully Launches Ballistic Missile From Sub Bloomberg - 1 hour 46 minutes ago

    The missile flew about 500 kilometers, suggesting the nation’s missile technology has improved from previous launches, a South Korean defense ministry official said. The missile was fired at about 5:30 a.m. from waters near the city of Sinpo where … More »

  • Australia carrier Qantas soars to record profits
    Australia carrier Qantas soars to record profits AFP News - 2 hours 3 minutes ago

    Australian carrier Qantas on Wednesday soared to a record annual net profit and announced a first payout to shareholders in seven years in a strong turnaround after major restructuring. Underlying profit before tax -- Qantas' preferred measure -- … More »

  • China Foods Mulls Sale of Mainland Coca-Cola Bottling Stakes Bloomberg - 2 hours 14 minutes ago

    China Foods is considering a sale of its stakes in 10 Coca-Cola bottling companies in the country through a public tender, it said in a Hong Kong stock exchange filing Tuesday. The company will sell stakes varying from 7.15 percent to 100 percent … More »

  • World Bank's Kim launches bid for second term as president
    World Bank's Kim launches bid for second term as president Reuters - 2 hours 59 minutes ago

    World Bank President Jim Yong Kim on Tuesday formally launched a bid for a second five-year term as head of the multilateral development lender, whose board pledged an "open, merit-based, and transparent" selection process. The notification … More »

  • Housing sector lifts U.S., European stocks; oil pares gains
    Housing sector lifts U.S., European stocks; oil pares gains Reuters - 3 hours ago

    By Hilary Russ NEW YORK (Reuters) - Homebuilders provided a modest lift to both U.S. and European stock markets on Tuesday, while oil prices got a brief boost from Iran's positive signals on an output ... … More »

  • Pound gains but rand plunges on finance minister probe AFP - 3 hours ago

    The British pound edged higher on the dollar Tuesday but South Africa's rand plunged after Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan was summoned by police. The pound gained after eurozone purchasing manager data ... … More »

  • Oil up on Iran talk; stockpile build cited by API surprises
    Oil up on Iran talk; stockpile build cited by API surprises Reuters - 4 hours ago

    Oil prices rose on Tuesday after Reuters reported Iran was sending positive signals that it may support joint OPEC action to prop up the market, before the market pared gains on trade data showing a surprise build in U.S. crude stocks. Iran, the … More »

  • China Distance posts 3Q profit Associated Press - 4 hours ago

    The Beijing-based company said it had profit of 22 cents per share. Earnings, adjusted for stock option expense, were 23 cents per share. The online education company posted revenue of $30.8 million in ... … More »

  • Era of the Raider Dawns in China, Where Vanke No Longer Immune Bloomberg - 4 hours ago

    While the battle for China Vanke Co. isn’t exactly the "Barbarians at the Gate" takeover of RJR Nabisco by private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. during the leveraged-buyout boom of the 1980s, the scale and significance may turn out to be … More »

  • Japan’s GLM Seeks to Cash in on China’s Electric Vehicle Boom Bloomberg - 4 hours ago

    The Kyoto-based automaker is close to signing deals to supply vehicle platforms for about 10 carmakers, including some in China, founder and CEO Hiroyasu Koma said in an interview, without naming them. The company is in discussions with other … More »

  • Analysts Gloomy on Hong Kong’s Exchange After Shenzhen Link News Bloomberg - 4 hours ago

    The proportion of sell recommendations is at its highest level since 2013, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, and price estimates suggest an 8.6 percent stock decline in the next 12 months. “There’s no more optimism in the short term -- the … More »

  • Chinese Insurance Giant Anbang Said to Seek Bank Pitches for IPO Bloomberg - 4 hours ago

    “A Hong Kong IPO would give Anbang a good fundraising channel plus some fresh capital for business expansion, including deals,” Steven Lam, a Hong Kong-based analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence, said by phone Tuesday. … More »

Recent Quotes
Symbol Price Change % Chg 
Your most recently viewed tickers will automatically show up here if you type a ticker in the "Enter symbol/company" at the bottom of this module.
You need to enable your browser cookies to view your most recent quotes.
to view quotes in your portfolios.


  • Most Actives
    Most Actives
    NamePriceChange% Chg
  • % Gainers
    % Gainers
    NamePriceChange% Chg
  • % Losers
    % Losers
    NamePriceChange% Chg

Market Data

  • Currencies
    NamePriceChange% Chg
  • Commodities
    NamePriceChange% Chg
  • Bonds
    TreasuryYield (%)Yield Change