Inside Tips to Saving Money and Making the Most of Your Retail
by Jona E. Kessans (Simple & Frugal)
In addition to running my regular consulting business, I also
work part-time as an Ad Set Supervisor for a national retail
store. During this time I have learned many of the ins and outs
of the retail business and how to get the most bang for my buying
dollar. If you follow these same ten tips I guarantee that you
too will save more money. Following are ten of the best inside
tips Ive learned about the retail world since becoming
part of it.
1.How to Get the Best Clearance Price in Stores
In most retail stores, clearance is marked down at the beginning
of the month. And for stores that use the tiered clearance system,
where items fall in price as the month progresses, you will
find that the best time to get the lowest price for a clearance
item is toward the end of the month.
2.Yellow Tag, Red Tag Clearance Method - When the Best Price
Isnt Always the Final Clearance Price
Stores that use the yellow tag to red tag clearance method also
use a tiered system to incrementally mark down items on clearance.
Generally, items are placed on clearance at the beginning of
the month and will be gradually marked down as the month progresses.
Any remaining yellow-ticketed items are then red ticketed for
final clearance at the beginning of the following month. Because
this system is percentage based, when the yellow-ticketed price
drops to its lowest percentage off (usually 50% off the yellow-ticketed
clearance price) makes this the best item to buy. This way you
can save as much as 80% off the regular price of an item. However,
if you wait until the same item is red-ticketed for final clearance,
you will pay a higher price and only receive about 50-60% off
the regular price. This is a clearance strategy used by many
3.Too Early/Too Late For a Great Sale Not Anymore
Most retail stores have an unpublished policy that allows customers
to receive the sale price for an item either a day before or
a day after the begin and end dates of an advertised sale. You
just have to ask to receive the sale price.
4.Price Adjustment Too Late, Not Necessarily
Most retailers have a published policy allowing customers a
specific timeframe to receive price adjustments and an unpublished
policy that actually extends this timeframe anywhere from 7
to 14 days. Even if you are outside the official timeframe for
a price change, make the request, as most stores will honor
the adjustment based on the unpublished policy and because they
wont risk losing a customer.
5.Buy One, Get One Free and Buy One, Get One ½ Off Sales
(BOGO) Great for the Retailer, Bad for the Customer
The national retail store I work at part-time as Ad-Set Supervisor
usually has a Buy One, Get One Free, and Buy One, Get One ½
Off Sale, also know as BOGOs, twice every sale cycle (12 weeks).
It always amazes me how many people flock to the store for these
sales because in the retail industry, these are known to be
one of the worst sales for customers. How? By breaking the numbers
down one can quickly see just what I mean. Lets say you
need a pair of jeans and find that there is a BOGO sale at your
favorite store offering you ½ off the second purchase.
If you paid $20.00 for the first pair and $10 for the second
pair (since it was ½ off) your total purchase amount
on two pairs of jeans is $30.00, with an overall savings of
$10.00 or 25%. But more than likely, these same jeans usually
go on sale for 30 to 40% off during one of the stores
regular sale events. That means if you had purchased these same
jeans during a regular 30% off sale you would have paid $14.00
per pair or $28 for two pairs a savings of $12.00, or 30% off
saving you an additional $2.00 than the BOGO Sale. At 40% off
you would have paid $12.00 per pair or $24.00 for two pairs,
or 40% off saving you an additional $6.00 than the BOGO Sale.
Buy One, Get One Free Sales are only good if you plan on purchasing
two of the same items anyway. Otherwise, they force customers
to purchase more than they had planned causing them to bring
home two items they only wanted one of in the first place. A
way around this dilemma is to shop with a friend or relative
who intends to purchase the same type of item that you are going
to purchase. Stores love these sales because it is a way of
getting customers to spend more money, reduce store inventory
quicker, and increase sales figures.
6.Shopping Day Savings Passes, Just Ask
Several national retail stores offer Shopping Day Savings Passes,
coupons offering the customer anywhere from 10-20% off every
purchase made throughout that day. These savings passes
are available at customer service desks. All you need to do
is ask. One large retailer that offers these passes is Macys.
7.Those People with the Scanners They Know More Than
Ever go into a store and see some of the associates with a scanner
scanning items? Well, more than likely those are Ad Setters
responsible for placing sale signs for upcoming sale events.
Almost every store has an Ad Set Crew. Some stores have the
Ad Set Crew set ads for upcoming sales after store closing.
Most, however, have the Crew start setting ads a few hours prior
to closing. Shop during these hours and seek these people out.
Why? They are the most knowledgeable about what store sales
are the best for customers and when these sales are going to
occur since they know about upcoming sales weeks in advance.
If you are wondering if an item you are interested in purchasing
is cheaper during the current sale or cheaper during an upcoming
sale, they can usually scan it and tell you. I have helped countless
customers save this way and then proceeded to tell them about
the day prior, day later rule covered in tip number three. Most
regular sales associates dont have this inside information
about upcoming sales, nor do they have the ability to find out
what upcoming sales prices are going to be on items - thats
why you need to speak to an Ad Setter.
8.Imperfections = Discounts, Even Packaging
Everyone probably knows about getting an additional discount
on imperfect merchandise, but many dont know that imperfect
packaging gets the same discounts. The store I work at, like
most stores, has a policy that allows at least an additional
10-20% discount on damaged items. Even if the only damage is
to an items packaging, we gladly give this discount when
someone asks. As a result, I have learned to purposefully seek
out items that have damaged packaging and to always ask for
this extra discount. To date, I have always received it. Being
willing to purchase items with damaged packaging creates a win-win
situation for both customers and the store: the store gets rid
of slightly blemished items and customers save money.
9.Forgot Your Extra Savings Coupon No Problem, Just Tell
Many stores send out extra savings coupons to holders of their
credit cards or loyal customers on their mailing list. Sometimes,
however, customers get to the register only to realize that
they forgot to bring their Extra Savings Coupon
with them. If this happens to you, no problem, since most stores
have a policy granting the discount to the customer anyway just
by telling the cashier that you forgot your savings coupon.
10.The Clearance Merry-Go-Round
Most stores have what is called back stock. This
usually refers to clearance items that have not sold during
the previous seasons clearance sales. These items are
placed in a designated area in the stockroom and then brought
back out onto the sales floor during a stores next seasonal
clearance event. For example, January and February are two good
months to find last seasons bathing suits on clearance
in many stores. May and June are good times to find heavy coats
and leather jackets at rock-bottom prices. I know our store
does this routinely, and have found this to be true for several
other major retailers as well.
I hope you are able to save tons of money as I have by using
these ten tips. Prior to working in retail I would have considered
myself a frugal and smart shopper but have since become even
better and saved more. By learning the ins-and-outs of the retail
world and by using these tips, I now pay less for brand-new
brand-name clothing, shoes, accessories, and home goods than
I had previously paid at thrift stores and I hope you do too.
Happy Shopping and Saving!
About the Author
Jona is an instructional designer, web and graphic designer,
and technical and business writer. When she isnt working
on client projects, she can be found updating her personal project,
www.simpleandfrugal.com, a website dedicated to those seeking
to simplify their lives. Jona has been practicing simple living/voluntary
simplicity for over 10 years and is available for speaking engagements.
Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.