It’s no secret that retailers have been more than a little desperate this year. I actually spotted an ad for American Eagle Outfitters offering free shipping and 20 percent additional savings for customers who placed an order on Christmas Day! But with 44 percent of Americans primed to hit the stores between now and New Year’s, the discounts that have been so impressive to begin with are promised to be even steeper as merchants make a last-ditch effort to unload their inventories.
For hard-core shoppers, today is the real Black Friday. Many stores like Kohl’s opened at 6 a.m. or earlier, and planned to stay open well past their usual closing time. But before you rush off to the mall, here are a few tips to make the most of your post-Christmas bargain hunting:
• You’ll generally save the most today and tomorrow.
That’s because the day or two after Christmas are among the most trafficked shopping days of the year as many consumers look to return those unwanted presents and redeem their gift cards. Stores don’t want you walking out with those refund bucks in your wallet, so they tempt you to stick around with some of their juiciest deals.
• Shop early in the day for added savings.
You can often save money by shopping during certain hours of the day, usually when stores tend to be less busy. It’s a marketing tool used by more and more retailers. For instance, Brooks Brothers, the fancier clothier, is offering 15 percent bonus savings to consumers who shop before 1 p.m.
• Don’t be mislead by massive discounts.
Who doesn’t like a incredible deal? The ads for post-holiday sales promise savings of 70 percent or more. But don’t let the heady numbers fool you. The lofty discounts don’t generally apply to everything in the store, only to clearance, discontinued, or holiday merchandise.
• Compare online and in-store sales.
They may not be the same. For example, Best Buy’s Web site featured an exclusive 3-day sale, with saving of as much as 55 percent, on items like electric shavers, coffee makers, GPS systems, and fitness equipment – deals you won’t find at any Best Buy store. Be sure to check the online price against the store price so you don’t waste a trip.
• Beware of fine print.
A large ad for Kmart, for example trumpeted take an “extra 10% off almost everything.” Below the headline, in small type read, “excludes toys, electronics, entertainment, & fitness & sports.” That doesn’t sound like “almost everything” to me.
• Look for downloadable coupons. I scanned dozens of Web site ads and found a wealth of valuable coupons for bonus savings. At Macys.com, for instance, there were two coupons, one good for an extra 10 to 20 percent off through Dec. 30, and another for $10 off a $25 purchase until 1 p.m. today, tomorrow, or Sunday.