I think one of the biggest gripes that I have about the economy today is the shopper mentality. It seems that nowadays everyone is looking for a bargain whether it is on clothes, food, or services. I think that’s fine to look for the better deal but the way companies are approaching it now is becoming almost criminal in my opinion. Let’s take a look at some stores for example.
I think the biggest example of the excessive sales is Kohl’s. They have all kinds of promotions and clearances going on every single day. In fact when I go into the store there’s not a lot of things that don’t have a red “Sale” tag on it. Kohl’s is really guilty of bumping up the MSRP (Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price) and then claiming you save 40% or more. It’s like an addiction because at the cash register when you ring up all of your items, they tell you that you’ve saved a ridiculous amount of money. Just from listening to some other people’s orders you can save like $300+. Are you really saving that much money though? Let’s take a simple polo from Kohl’s. They usually advertise it for around $13 after a sale. That’s after saying the MSRP is around $19. You’ve saved $6. That sounds like a good deal doesn’t it? However, if you do some comparison shopping to other stores for the quality of the polo you just looked at, you’ll usually find that the price should be around $13 or maybe even lower if a store has a true sale. With Kohl’s, I find it difficult to commit to buying anything because it’s really so hard to figure out if something is a good deal or not. I have to always look at the “sale” price and ask myself, “Is this really a good deal? How much would it cost at other places?”.
Another example of excessive sales is JC Penny. I actually really liked this store when it had the fair pricing scheme from a couple of years ago. Prices for everything were held constant and you knew what everything was really worth for every day pricing. It was a fresh change at least in my perspective. That ship has since sailed though. Prices are back to being on sale for everything. There are very little items in the store that aren’t marked as a sale and just looking at the MSRP, you can tell the prices are inflated. I mean come on, $60 for a mediocre quality dress shirt? The one thing I will say about JC Penny though is when something is truly on clearance you can get great deals. When things are out of season, that’s the time when you should buy. It’s also when I found a great strategy to know if something truly is on sale.
Do you ever notice what number a price ends in? Most items end in a 9 because they are worth like $5.99 or $6.49. That usually would indicate that it’s a regular “Sale” price. However, when items end in another number like 8 or 7, that’s usually an indicator that they’ve been given an extra discount. I’ve seen it happen at JC Penny with many of their discounted items. They usually end in a 7. There’s an article about the codes they use in Costco and what was found is the following:
- Prices that end in 97¢: These have been marked down from the regular priced items, which end in 99¢
- Odd pricing, such as 79¢, 49¢, or 89¢: These indicate specially priced items that Costco got a deal from the manufacturer. Rapoport says these can be better deals than at other stores, but not usually better than the 97¢ markdown.
- An asterisk* on the upper right side of the sign: The item won’t be reordered.
- 88¢ or .00 endings: Manager markdowns. Sometimes the company uses these to move a product very fast.
It pays to really look at the items and discern whether or not they’re really good deals. In today’s society it seems that companies have to fight more and more to get your business and they try to do so with pricing. Don’t get fooled into good deals, go with your instinct and don’t buy into the shopper’s mentality.