Remove the $ sign to increase spending

What if you could bump up spending on every admission, every sale and every menu item at your venue by doing something so incredibly simple you can't believe it actually works? Turns out the $ sign may trigger a tightening of the purse strings. Lose the sign, and watch the cash register ring.

Researchers at Cornell University found if you eliminate the $ sign from menus, diners will spend an average of $5.55 more, compared to spending when menus include the dollar sign or "dollars" written in script.

The researchers presented three versions of a lunch menu at an upscale-casual restaurant to 201 study participants. The menus listed prices as either XX, $XX or scripted words.

There was no difference in the spending among customers using menus with the numerical price formats with the $ symbol and the scripted prices with the word "dollars."

In their published journal article, researchers said, "Changing the menu typography is like picking the low-hanging fruit when it comes to squeezing every last cent from an existing business. . . Perhaps the act of repeatedly reading the word 'dollars' acted as an unintentional prime and activated concepts of cost or price, initiated pain of paying, and subsequently caused guests to spend less."

Although the research looked at restaurant menus, there is no reason to doubt the same results could apply to entrance admission, entertainment attractions, birthday parties and other pricing on websites, brochures and signage in location-based entertainment facilities.