Secrets Retailers don’t want you to know

It is surprising, given the number of people who work in retail, that more people have not figured out how to manipulate the retail system. I have worked most of my retail career in appliance and furniture sales, but the rules of retail apply everywhere. All retailers keep the same secrets. First, mark-up accounts for much more of the price than you think. Second, there is always room to move on a ticketed price, even if it is a clearance price. Third, sale ‘end’ dates are not set in stone. Fourth, Shopping on sale days wont always get you the best price. And fifth, you can always make a deal.

Customers never judge the value of at item as it actually is. We all know a $20 dollar pair of jeans actually does cost the same amount of money to make as a $100 pair of jeans. And we all understand that bigger brands have huge mark ups, but this also applies to everything else we shop for. In many cases the retailer pays only 20 percent of the ticket price when purchasing the item for their store. Retailers do not want you to know this, or they will have more people asking for lower prices. They also try to keep this information from their staff. While working for a major retailer with stores in  Canada and the USA I was given access to the computer in order to check stock and shipping dates for the appliances and furniture I was selling. The system also showed cost prices for each item the store carried, including clothing, household items, shoes, toys, cosmetics, tools etc. I was able to find the cost on every item I purchased. It was also store policy that each item was marked to 80 percent off the original price, when it went to clearance. At this point, the store was still making a profit. Some items have an even cost. Mattresses for example, cost the retailer about 10% of the price the consumer pays. This is why mattresses can go on sale for 50% off so often. Understanding how low the actual cost of each item is makes the other secrets easier to understand.

Everyone knows that if you are out shopping and approach a teller in any shopping store with an item whose packaging is damaged, the teller will take off 20 percent of the price. This is standard practice. Sometimes the 20 percent works out to be change, but in other cases it can be a lot of money. Tellers are have the lowest amount of authority in the store, so if they are authorized to take 20 percent off an item, just because the customer asked for it, imagine what the manager could do? There is always room to move on a price. Many stores will not discount things for no reason at all. But there are a few tricks. If you are making a large purchase, always ask for a better price. They would rather take a little bit off the price than see you walk out empty handed. If they say no, start walking, and most of the time, they will come after you.

Advertised sale dates are only set in stone if you talk to the teller. Talk to the manager and it will be another story all together. If you miss the sale date, they can still give you the price. Tellers are not authorized to extend a sale, and trained not to call the manager over in this case. But, asking for the manager to begin with, will usually get you the extension you are looking for. When it comes to selling an item at a discount, or not all all, they will take the sale. Remember, if they have to give you the 10 percent off sale price, they are still making 70 percent profit!

While sale dates are not set in stone, sometimes you are better off to shop when an item is not on sale. First, if you ask for a lower price on a sale item, you will usually get the same reply, “Sorry, we cannot mark down sale prices.” And most tellers and managers stick to this rule. But wait for a week and come back when the item is not on sale. The rules will change entirely. If you are making a large purchase, or buying multiple items you can usually haggle a better price out of the manager.  If you cant, wait a couple of weeks. We live in a disposable society. Consumers want and need to have an ever-changing selection of new products available to them. Because of this, nothing stays on the shelf a full year before it gets marked for clearance. Clearance prices usually start at 20 percent, which is the usual sale price, but they try to fool you buy posting a “Clear out” sign. After a set amount of time, it will be marked again and will eventually hit 80 percent off. Once an item is marked clear out, speak to the manager. No one wants to hold on to clearance merchandise. You should be able to get the lower price while it is still available in your size, the color you want etc. The bigger the item is, the better your chances are of getting it cheap. No one wants to keep an old fridge kicking around. It is taking up valuable floor space.

Lastly, you can always make a deal. The key is to ask, negotiate, and be reasonable. You are not going to get a deal on a loaf of bread, unless it is day old, and you need 10. There are things you can do to better your chances. For one, remember all retail stores have quotas to meet. Asking for a deal on Sunday evening, when the store is about to finish their sales week under quota, will usually get you the better price, they will do almost anything to get those last couple of dollars. Another way to get a deal is to shop in a smaller store. Find one in a mall that has little traffic, or one in a lower income area. You can tell these stores because most of their merchandise racks have clearance tags. If the store doesn’t have the sales to keep up with the turnover, they are left with piles of merchandise to clear out. These stores will almost always have the clearance items in your size, style, color etc. They will also make a deal. If there are piles of clear out items hanging around, you know their sales are low. Ask for a deal.