Fake discounts are just an inducement to spend.
This actually happened:
Two friends are shopping the other day. One asks, "What are you buying?"
The other replies, "I don't know, but I have a 50% off coupon that expires today, and I don't want to waste it!"
So the first friend says, "That's an online coupon that they offer every week. You can just print out another one next week!"
To which they reply, "Aren't you going to buy anything? You're letting your coupon go to waste!"
It is a very interesting exchange. Most retail stores offer discounts on everything these days, to the point where no one pays retail price anymore. Some places like Bed, Bath, and Beyond, churn out so many coupons, that it would be ludicrous to pay full price for anything at that store.
Why do they do this? Read the exchange above. It induces people to spend even when they have no needs whatsoever. As the second friend pointed out, the "discount" will be offered next week as well - so there is no compelling reason to "buy now".
You can't spend your way to wealth, as I have noted time and time again, just as you can't eat your way to slimness. But retailers do this to us all the time - offering BOGOs or discounts or incentives, until we say to ourselves, "Gee, at these prices, you can't afford not to buy!"
But of course, that is just a lie we tell ourselves.
Funny story. Sadly, a true one.