Happy Memorial Day! I hope everyone has a fun and safe holiday.
Besides cookouts and pool-openings, this marks a major sale and shopping weekend in the States. Remember to use a certain amount of caution when shopping the sales.
Sure, there are going to be some great Memorial Day bargains. At the same time, be wary of the two pitfalls of such well-publicized sales:
1) The sale that isn’t.
Since stores are so interested in attracting consumers, they may make it look like items are on sale when they really aren’t. I’ve heard stories on The Consumerist from sales associates who’ve marked up items so so they could be marked down again.
For example, suppose I wanted to make it look like you were getting a deal on a pair of $75 slacks. I’d mark them up to $100 (in the “original price” field) and then mark them as 25% off.
These tactics happen year ’round, but I understand they’re particularly prevalent during Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Black Friday sales.
Solution: Buy things because you need them and they’re at a price you consider reasonable, not because they’ve been marked down.
2) The sale that you don’t need.
These are items that are actually on sale, that you know are on sale, but that you don’t actually need. I’m as much of a sucker for a low price as the next girl, so I have to fight these extra-hard.
It’s like the time someone asked to schedule a free demonstration for something the company I was working at didn’t need and couldn’t order even if we wanted it (being a branch of a much larger group which handled vendors). She seemed incredulous that anyone would turn down a free demonstration.
Just like that “free” demonstration would have eaten into our time and possibly our energy (if the demonstrator didn’t want to take “no” for an answer), a sale that costs you something you wouldn’t have spent is a sale for the store, not for you.
Solution: Again, buy things you need at reasonable prices. If you’re like me and feel the tug of things you weren’t planning to buy, bring a shopping list and tell yourself you’ll stick to it. An advantage of working on the shopping list well-before the sale is that you can keep an eye on the prices and avoid assuming (as in #1) that items marked as on-sale are really less expensive.
For some reason, I don’t feel quite right about Memorial Day sales (perhaps because the whole thing is supposed to be such a serious holiday, though I can interpret cookouts and parties as celebrations of our freedom or something).