When a Sale is Not a Sale

Posted on April 24th, 2015 by Discount Debbie

end-of-summer-sale copy

So, I have two kids and there might be a third in the near future. I’ve subscribed to several kid’s clothing site newsletters that pop up in my email inbox daily—sometimes more than daily. Half-daily? Anyway, it sounds like a nuisance, but I’ve come to notice a pattern in those emails and other store emails in which some sales are clearly better than others—or not even different at all.

Of course, if you get an email for KidsClothes that’s a 10% off everything coupon one week, and a 20% off everything coupon the next week, it’s pretty obvious which sale is better. Some are a little harder to figure out, though.

Let’s say a jacket we want to buy from KidsClothes is $20 regular price. Last week, KidsClothes sent a blindingly bright e-mail proclaiming that the whole store was 50% OFF FOR A LIMITED TIME! That brings the price of the jacket to $10! Shipping is $5 so it’s really $15, but still, not bad, right? I get a jacket delivered to my door without ever having to get off my butt for only $15. But say I’m on the fence about buying it, and suddenly the sale is over and the price jumps back up to $20. Lame.

Next week, I get a seizure-inducing e-mail proclaiming that now KidsClothes is having a Buy One Get One 50% Off Sale with FREE SHIPPING! I don’t want to miss another sale and end up paying $20 for this jacket so I should jump on this sale! I have to get two items for the sale to take effect, so I decide to get a second jacket in a different size for my other child. The first jacket is full price, $20, and the second one is half off, $10, so $30 total and no shipping! But wait…that brings the total per jacket to $15, which is exactly what I would have paid during last week’s sale.  Both sales were worded to seem vastly different, but the end price per item ends up being exactly the same.

So what’s the moral here? Keep an eye on those sales and try not to fall prey to the wording that makes you think you are getting a one-time-only mega steal. In this case, after a month, the jacket I wanted ended up going on “clearance” for $15. A coupon that could be used on clearance items was in the next newsletter, and I finally got the item for under $10.  If you’d like to buy new clothing or other items, see if you can subscribe to email newsletters for a few weeks and try to catch the item when it is REALLY on sale… not just when the company wants you to think it is.


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