Best Deals and Strategies for Presidents Day Sales

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By Cameron Huddleston

The Presidents Day holiday on Feb. 17 means a day off for some of us -- and the first big sales event of the year for retailers. Several retailers -- including Best Buy (BBY), Macy's (M) and Walmart (WMT) -- already have launched Presidents Day sales. And last year, some merchants continued their sales several days beyond the holiday, according to dealnews.com. So Presidents Day sales can actually last for two weeks, rather than just the three-day holiday weekend. But do these sales really offer good money-saving opportunities for consumers? As always, it depends on what you're buying.

"Presidents Day sales are a great way to save on big-ticket items," says Offers.com Vice President Howard Schaffer. The sales are also a good opportunity to get deeply discounted cold-weather apparel for next winter for growing children by purchasing a size or two larger than what they currently wear, Schaffer says. However, he warns, watch out for new seasonal items such as spring clothing, grills and patio furniture that are promoted along with Presidents Day sales items because they'll actually be at their highest prices of the year.

Here are several items you'll see on sale around Presidents Day, along with our advice on whether the discounts are worthwhile or just mediocre.

Deep Discounts on Winter Apparel

Most retailers already have put cold-weather clothing on clearance racks, with discounts as high as 70 percent. %VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%You can expect those sales to last through Presidents Day, but you should be able to find coupons from most merchants that will let you get an additional 10 to 25 percent off clearance items over the holiday weekend, according to dealnews.com.

In the past, some retailers have offered coupons for as much as 70 percent off clearance items, according to dealnews.com. Download a coupon app, such as the one from RetailMeNot, before you head to the mall to see which merchants are having sales and offering coupons. Don't expect widespread sales on shoes, though. According to dealnews.com, you'll see markdowns only on select items, but the discounts can reach as high as 70 percent.

Significant Savings on Select Laptops

Dealnews.com saw some of the best prices of the year on budget laptops during Presidents Day sales. This year, you can expect to see significant price drops on 15-inch and touchscreen laptops, according to dealnews.com.

But don't expect bargains on powerful systems. For example, the deal experts at Deals2Buy.com alerted us to a Presidents Day pre-sale at Dell (DELL), which has marked down a 15-inch Inspiron touchscreen laptop by $390 to $550. And apparently doorbuster deals aren't just for Black Friday anymore. Dell is offering some now and will have more Feb. 17.

Major Markdowns for the Home

Schaffer says you can expect to see mattress and bedding discounted as much as 70 percent. For example, select mattresses are 30 to 50 percent off -- plus an extra 10 percent off sales prices -- during the Macy's Presidents Day sale. And Macy's has marked down clearance bed and bath items online by an additional 25 percent. Sears has discounts of 60 percent or more on some mattresses.

Look for discounts of at least 25 percent on select appliances at retailers such as Best Buy, Home Depot (HD), Lowe's (LOW) and Sears (SHLD). However, you may find discounts as high as 50 percent off, Schaffer says. You may also be able to find coupons for a specific dollar amount off appliances, according to dealnews.com.

The best bargains among home goods will be on cookware and small appliances, according to dealnews.com. In addition to sales on these items, you'll probably be able to find coupons for an additional 10 percent to 20 percent off.

You'll see lots of tool promotions, but most of the discounts won't be significant, according to dealnews.com. If you find tools marked down as much as 50 percent, you've found a good deal. Schaffer says you will find some discounts this deep. Otherwise, you might be better off waiting until July, when tools that didn't sell for Father's Day are deeply discounted.

Mediocre Electronics Deals

Electronics retailers such as Best Buy, Newegg.com and even Walmart are promoting markdowns on cameras, tablets, televisions and more. But most of the deals won't be spectacular, according to dealnews.com. Several retailers already have marked down prices on 2013 television models, and we haven't seen additional discounts for Presidents Day yet on six great TVs we recently recommended. The standard price cut (so far) on tablets is about $20, but Walmart has dropped the price on a Google (GOOG) Nexus 10-inch tablet by $100 to $399. And Newegg.com has marked down an 8-inch Samsung Galaxy tablet to $299 from $399.


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17 Tricks Stores Use to Make You Spend More Money
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Best Deals and Strategies for Presidents Day Sales

A big, bold "SALE" sign helps get people in the store, where they are likely to buy non-sale items.

Once you enter, there's the shopping cart. This invention was designed in the late 1930s to help customers make larger purchases more easily.

 

In supermarkets, high margin departments like floral and fresh baked goods are placed near the front door, so you encounter them when your cart is empty and your spirits are high.    
Flowers and baked goods also sit near the front of stores because their appealing smell activates your salivary glands, making you more likely to purchase on impulse.

Supermarkets like to hide dairy products and other essentials on the back wall, forcing you to go through the whole store to reach them.

 

    

Once customers start walking through a store's maze of aisles, they are conditioned to walk up and down each one without deviating.

Most stores move customers from right to left. This, combined with the fact that America drives on the right, makes people more likely to purchase items on the right-hand side of the aisle.

Anything a store really wants customers to buy is placed at eye level. Particularly favored items are highlighted at the ends of aisles.
 

There's also kid eye level. This is where stores place toys, games, sugary cereal, candy, and other items a kid will see and beg his parents to buy.
Sample stations and other displays slow you down while exposing you to new products.
Stores also want items to be in easy reach. Research shows that touching items increases the chance of a purchase.

Color affects shoppers, too. People are drawn into stores by warm hues like reds, oranges, and yellows, but once inside cool colors like blues and greens encourage them to spend more.

Hear that music? Studies show that slow music makes people shop leisurely and spend more. Loud music hurries them through the store and doesn't affect sales. Classical music encourages more expensive purchases.
Store size matters, too. In crowded places, people spend less time shopping, make fewer purchases (planned and impulsive), and feel less comfortable
.
Stores not only entice you with sales, they also use limited-time offers to increase your sense of urgency in making a purchase.
The most profitable area of the store is the checkout line. Stores bank on customers succumbing to the candy and magazine racks while they wait.
Finally, there is the ubiquitous "valued shopper" card. This card gives you an occasional deal in exchange for your customer loyalty and valuable personal data.
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