Finding the perfect gift for someone is a wonderful feeling. But, for many of us, finding that gift at a great price adds a little extra fun to the experience. It has nothing to do with a lack of generosity, its just something we seem to have in our DNA—if we dont get a bargain, theres something unsatisfying about the whole thing.
The holiday shopping season is a particularly stressful time for shoppers whose favorite sport is finding the best deal on absolutely everything. Of course, that kind of frustration isnt unique to the holidays or gift-giving; there are plenty of times, all year long, when you have neither the time nor the inclination to wait for a sale. You need the best price on something NOW.
While the ideal situation is having time to shop, there are ways of making sure youre getting a great price, even if the item youre purchasing isnt on sale.
Do Your Homework
With the online resources available today, it isnt hard to find out how much things are worth and what prices retailers are putting on them. Price-comparison tools are a fast and easy way to get the shopping intel you need to get the best possible deals. But you dont necessarily have to shop with whomever has the best price. Simply knowing that price is out there can give you an edge when youre discussing a purchase with a store associate. The associate might not have the authority to drop a price, but politely asking him or her to check with their manager can yield pleasant results.
Dont Assume the Marked Price is the Final Price
Weve all seen markdown tags on retail items. Since those markdowns have to happen sometime, theres absolutely nothing wrong with trying to make one happen while youre in the store. If youve got some competitive research up your sleeve (see above), make use of it. Ask if the store is willing to match (or better yet, beat) the price you found elsewhere. Even without a competing price, dont be shy about asking if the ticketed price is absolutely the best they can do—especially if you know the store and the likelihood of them marking your item down in the near future. You should also keep an eye out for minor damage on item. Pointing out an imperfection youre willing to live with can be a pretty easy way to knock some dollars off the price.
Consider Paying Cash
This might not lower the initial price of an item but if youre not someone who pays your credit card balance promptly, the interest youll pay to your credit card company automatically increases your outlay on that purchase. There are sellers who offer discounts for paying cash, as a gesture of gratitude for taking their credit card service fees out of your purchase scenario.
Get In With the IN Crowd
Keeping their social media audiences interested and engaged is a big part of just about every sellers marketing strategy. Nothing stings quite like an unfavorable social media comment, so retailers are especially interested in keeping online friends happy. Maintaining a social media relationship with the retailers you frequent can get you on the distribution list for special discounts (getting on an old fashioned email or newsletter distribution is a good idea, too).
Be Ready and Willing to Make a Return
After youve made your purchase, hang onto your receipt and keep an eye on prices. If the store you bought from, or a competing store, soon offers the same item at a better price, ask your store to match that new price by refunding the difference. You can always return the item if the store wont match a competitors price. If a store wont give you their own newly-reduced price, its worth your time to see how interested they are in both keeping your business and keeping that sale on their books. In either scenario, you may have to go beyond the sales-associate level to management in order to get satisfaction.
When you do have some time to shop (lets say you have a big gift event coming up several months down the line), Knowing how to time a purchase can save you a lot of money. The savviest shoppers know that every product or service has its season.