Looks Like A Bargain

Getting the most out of holiday sales

For more than 30 years, wife and mother Lynnette Dukes of San Antonio, Texas, has enjoyed holiday bargain hunting. She knows when end-of-the-season sales are taking place and when merchandise will be shipped in. She also clips coupons.

“Most of the sale items I purchase are 50% or more off the original price,” says Dukes, a retired civil service employee.

This is the time of year when merchants offer a number of sales and promotions. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) answers the questions you should be asking to get more bang for your buck.

  • Can you beat this price? Because it is on sale does not mean it is the best deal. Identify the item and then comparison shop. Merchants may also be willing to match or even beat the competitor’s price.
  • Do I really need two? Before you purchase a “buy one, get one free” item, consider whether you would have gotten two items to begin with. Likewise, don’t buy a high-priced item simply because an inexpensively priced gift comes with it for free.
  • Can I bring it back to get more off? Inquire about sales adjustments if the purchase price is lowered within the next few weeks. Ask about refund and return policies on sale and clearance items. “It can be costly for you not to know about return policies,” adds Elaine Kolish, associate director for enforcement for the FTC. “Extra costs might include shipping and handling with returns.”
  • What can you do for me? Compare the item’s online price with shipping and handling to the store’s price in your area. Remember to factor in time and travel costs. “Consider negotiating shipping and handling–particularly when you are buying multiple items,” says Kolish.
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Dukes prefers shopping at department stores such as Foley’s and Macy’s, which offer sales coupons. Her favorite discount stores are Marshall’s and T.J. Maxx.

 

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