The other day, I noticed that my wife looked especially thin in the mirror outside the dressing room of a department store. This got me to thinking: Could it be that stores warp mirrors so people will look thinner when trying on clothes? I spoke to the Visual and Creative Manager of a top international retail company and posed the question. The answer? Yes! She told me that stores will quite commonly tilt dressing room mirrors back just slightly to give the illusion of thinness when customers try on clothes. Studies have shown that “fat mirrors” decrease and “thin mirrors” increase sales. She also revealed several other common retail clothing store tricks:
- Along with that tilted mirror, lighting tends to be softer and more flattering in fitting rooms.
- Some stores actually mess with the sizing of clothes so that women will suddenly think they fit into a size zero when they were a size four just a few minutes ago in a competitor’s store.
- Store managers have figured out that men tend to walk to the left and prefer to walk downstairs, while women walk to the right and upstairs. Men’s and women’s departments are accordingly placed in the more sophisticated stores that take this into account.
- “Destination shops,” like shoes and bags – things that people set out to buy – are best placed in the back of the store to force customers to walk by other buyable items.
- The volume of music is adjusted depending on the day and time. For example, a hip store catering to a youthful crowd will play music louder on the weekends to seem like a happening place to hang out.
- Even if a store has 200 copies of an item, they might put just 10 out at a time to make it look special. This is also done on sales racks – sometimes just one of each size is displayed so people will think it might sell out and they’d better get it right away.
One thing I wanted to know was whether my suspicion was true that stores jack up original costs so they can claim that items are marked down. My inside source said that they don’t do that at her stores, so I had to do a little research. According to this very seldom watched Youtube video from Australia, it’s quite common to create fake sales: Fake Sales in Australia. I don’t know if that proves anything, but it’s fun to be outraged, so I choose to believe it.
Meanwhile, where can I get one of those skinny mirrors for my bathroom at home?
Ever wonder what a fashion merchandiser does? Here’s a pretty good explanation.