One of my favorite places to shop for clothes, household items, jewelry, and presents is my local JcPenney department store. Having worked in the mall, I know the ups and downs of shopping at larger stores like Macys, Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom, and JcPenney. By following the tips below, you will be saving a lot of money the next time you stop by one of these corporate giants.
1. Keep an Eye for Sales Sections. Usually marked with red, clearance and sale sections sometimes have fantastic clothes or items at a fraction of the cost (I’ve seen Macy’s and JcPenney sometimes do 85% off). You can buy 5 clothing items at this price and still save more than if you bought one regular priced item.
2. Be aware of news events: Most of the top department stores offer a great sale event at least once a month, especially during Holidays! In order to find out about these sales, keep an eye out in your local newspaper or television commercials. Sometimes, newspapers have coupons that could save you an additional 10-15% off the already discounted price.
- Example of Advertised Special
3. Use Rain Checks: If there is an advertised special, but the store isn’t carrying it, ask the customer service to issue you a rain check. Rain checks allow you to purchase the specific item at the advertised price when it becomes available.
4. Sign up for their Mailing Lists: Department stores love to sign you up on their mailing lists and bombard you with sale updates! As an incentive, these newsletters carry extra coupons, sometimes for money off if your total purchase exceeds a certain amount. Check out the example coupon below from a Macy’s newsletter. Combining this saving with an extra 50% and you could be walking away with a steal!
- $10 off Purchase of $25 or more!
5. Know Your Seasons: If you’re going to buy clothes for the summer, buy it during winter clearances. They might be up to 75-80% off. For example, last summer, I just purchased an exquisite leather jacket, originally valued at over $350, for only $75! Now that it’s winter, I can’t believe I got so lucky.
6. Department Store Mapping: Know the area! Sometimes, the most appealing, but discounted items, are the farthest away from the corridors and walkways. Stores want to sell the expensive items first so they crowd everything in the back (away from fitting rooms and exits/entrances).
7. Shop during the weekdays: A common belief among many people is that the best sales and pricing occur during the weekends. Sure, the most promotions occur from Friday to Sunday because that’s when people can actually shop, but that does not translate to best prices. Most of the time, department stores will have even deeper discounts during the week to make room for weekend inventory.
8. Look for sales coupons: Go online and search for sales coupons for the stores you want to visit! Department stores have begun utilizing the power of the Internet to increase their consumer base and you should take advantage of that. Since coupons are more accessible online, Internet promotions tend to have better discounts than newsletter promotions as there is increased competition between large department store chains.
9. Have a favorite store? Get a rewards card. Most department stores will offer a rewards card for shoppers. These can be in the form of a credit card or special discount card that allows access to certain promotion prices. For example, another 10% off your purchase can be implemented if you present the rewards card. There are also huge one time bonuses for signing up for department store credit cards. Utilize them!
10. Know what you’re going to buy beforehand. Just like when you write a list for groceries, write (or memorize) a concise list of items that you’re going to need. Long shopping sessions can leave you drained (and your wallet drained) and mentally cajole you into just buying to get home and rest. Being aware and well rested will allow you to make better shopping decisions.
11. Plan a Budget. Along with a shopping list, a budget can be an excellent tool for saving money. Once you feel like you are going over your budgeted amount, stop spending. I recommend that you don’t spend more than ~40% of your weekly paycheck during one major shopping session. For example, if you make about $2,000 a month, or $500 a week, try to keep your spending below $200.
12. Know who to shop with. I can not stress this enough. Shopping peer pressure is very common, especially among young adults and teenagers. If you are trying to budget your money while another friend is spending and spending, you might make a few extra purchases or go for brand names you normally wouldn’t have even considered while shopping alone. This same rule applies to guys who go shopping with a new sweetheart. Remember, trying to impress will leave your wallet empty.
13. Eat well before going to the mall or a shopping center. As stated in number 10, having enough energy will not only make you a better and more aware shopper, but also keep you from making any rash decisions. In addition, you might save a large chunk of money by not visiting a fast food chain probably close to the department center.
14. Even if the prices are very low, prioritize your shopping. Think about it, you might be able to buy some great shirts for under $10 each and maybe you want a few because of the great price. Buying extra clothes just because the price is right will also waste a lot of money. Buy only what you need and nothing more. I’ve seen a lot of people spend big money on a large number of clothes they will never wear!
15. If you are buying a present, gift cards are ideal. Not only will you save alot of time, you can give the receiver the flexibility to buy what they want. Remember, the more time you spend shopping for a present, the more money you will spend on other non essential items. This way, you can walk in and out of the store.
I hope these small tidbits of information have provided you with a better understanding on how to beat the department stores at their own game. Please let me know if you think I missed something or have a personal experience to share.
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