When Melville Stone started the Chicago Daily News in 1875, the price was a penny. At first, circulation was high but then dropped off sharply. Stone discovered that the problem was a shortage of pennies in the area. He brought in barrels of pennies and then persuaded merchants to start an “odd-price sale,” selling goods for a penny under the regular price. Thus goods were sold for an amount such as $2,99 (instead of $3). Pennies came back into circulation, Stone sold many newspapers, and we still have odd-price sales tickets.
A few years later Walter Deubner also had a creative idea to increase sales at the small grocery store he ran in St. Paul, Minnesota. He noticed that his customers’ purchases were limited by what they could carry. So he set about devising a way to help them buy more. His idea took him 4 years to develop. In 1912 he patented his design, and by 1915 he was selling more than a million of these shopping “devices” per year, at five cents apiece. What did Deubner design to make his customers buy more? The shopping bag!
86% of consumers do their Christmas shopping during December, 70% do not save for the Christmas period, and up to 87% decide at the point of purchase what they will buy. About 30% use their credit card as their main means of buying Christmas goodies. People with high, medium and low income groups spend about the same amount on gifts.
Whatever you put into your shopping bag, turn over your pennies twice and be careful with that credit card. Excessive use of credit is cited as a major cause of non-business bankruptcy, second only to unemployment.