You may already consider yourself a savvy shopper. You always buy things on sale, and you compare prices at different stores before actually forking over your hard-earned cash. However there are other ways to score discounts—things you’d only know if you were an insider in the retail industry.
Finally, the secret’s out. Sales clerks and boutique managers finally share what you can do to get the cheapest prices on the best goods. Read this, and you’ll finally be able to say, ‘I’m the smartest shopper in town.’
Bargain secret # 1: Follow your favorite stores on Twitter and Facebook.
Many boutiques and shopping websites maintain Twitter and Facebook accounts, and are most likely to announce discounts, promos and other sales alerts there. You’ll be one of the first to know, and may even be notified of special contests or freebies that they wouldn’t publicize anywhere else.
Bargain secret # 2: Check out stocks before the sale.
We all know that the best stuff goes first during a sale. So don’t waste time wading through junk, or wondering what size you should get. Visit the store right before the sale and scout for the items you want. Try them on—at least the dressing rooms won’t be bursting at the seams—and see if the clothes really look good on you. That way, you won’t be stuck with an item that was super-cheap but you’ll never wear because it makes you look like a bloated cow.
You may even want to visit the store the day before the sale. Some boutiques actually mark the prices down in the late afternoon, in the last hours before they close.
Bargain secret # 3: You can ask for price adjustments.
Let’s say you bought a dress you loved so much you actually paid the full price on it. Then, a week later, you pass by the store and realize that they’re on sale—and the dress is marked at 50% off!
Yes, that sucks. But instead of wallowing in self pity and feeling like a sucker, be bold and approach the store manager and ask for a price adjustment. Some boutiques and even major retailers will be willing to give you the difference, as long as the sale happened from 7 to 10 days after the day you purchased it.
Bargain secret # 4: Look for rebates and online coupons
You’ll find many websites and shopping portals that have marketing tie-ups with major department store and designer brands—and will give you special rebates and discounts! For example, ebates.com will give a 30% cash back on purchases from Macy’s, Sephora and Nine West. Retailmenot.com and couponcraze.com also lets you print coupons that entitles you discounts on great items.
Bargain secret # 5: Befriend the sales clerk.
If you always shop at a particular store, be extra nice to the sales team. They’ll whisper to you when they’re about to go on sale, and will go out of their way to check if they have your size.
Bargain secret # 6: Avail of free shipping.
Stores like J. Crew and Talbots have both an on-ground store and online delivery. Now, if you went to their boutique and fell in love with an item, but they ran out of your size or the color you want, you can ask the sales clerk to arrange an online purchase. The good news is that, in these circumstances, you don’t have to pay shipping charges.
Bargain secret # 7: Pay less for sales tax.
There are many ways to save on sales tax. You can shop on your state’s tax-free weekend (this happens once a year), or at least visit your state’s website to find out special policies or exemptions. For example, some states will only charge sales tax if your purchase totals over $100. In that case, you can avoid the extra fees by paying for items individually, or at least, grouping them so that the total for each ‘set’ falls below $100.
Bargain secret # 8: Ask stores to match a lower offer.
Scour the internet and you’ll find that the price differences can really be quite significant. But let’s say you really want to buy from a particular store—maybe because its shipping charges are cheaper, or you want to score the rebates from a frequent shopper’s card. Then why not ask the online retailer if they’re willing to match the price of competition? You can call the customer service numbers listed on the website. It won’t hurt to ask, after all.
Bargain secret # 9: Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want.
Want the item in another size? Another color? Take the few extra minutes to approach a sales clerk and allow him or her to check the inventory. Yes, it’s a little inconvenient, but at least you get exactly what you want—and that’s a true bargain.