Digging through the clearance items can deliver some big rewards -- the chance to grab on the cheap some good stuff that you really want. But, more often, it can be a frustrating waste of time as you go through a picked-over rack and find only what you don't want and all the wrong sizes.
One shopping expert decided to dig deeper and find out when some of the biggest retailers in America regularly move items to clearance. Getting to the store on the first day of the markdown gives you the best chance to get a great deal. "Many stores have specific days of the week where employees mark items down or add them to the clearance section," said Kyle James, who writes the Rather Be Shopping blog. "Just know the day, plan your shopping trip, and maximize your savings."
He visited stores, interviewed workers and managers and got inside tips. James, who lives in Redding, California, with his wife and three children, noted that there could be some regional variations. He recommends striking up a friendly conversation with a worker or a manager at a favorite store and ask when the next markdowns will be. That can be particularly helpful, he said, when shopping at discounters such as Marshalls and T.J. Maxx (TJX).
Hitting the right stores on the right days has paid off for his family, James said. "My wife always shops at Old Navy (GPS) on Wednesdays, and she estimates she has saved about $75 this summer on clothing and swimwear for our three kids."
Here are seven of the biggest retailers in the country and what James learned about when you'll have the best chance at clearance items:
Best Days to Snag New Markdowns at 7 Big Retailers
The Best Days to Snag New Markdowns at 7 Big Retailers
Go on Thursday. Why? The markdowns are required to be completed by the time the store opens on Thursday morning, James said.
Monday and Tuesday is best at CVS (CVS), he said. Markdowns are started on Sundays, so if you want to get a chance to see the bulk of what's been price-chopped, waiting beyond Monday or Tuesday could cost you a shot at a great deal.
Sunday is the first day or markdowns, James said, but coming to the store on a Monday you'll typically find a less crowded a store and will see the latest markdowns. And, he said, don't forget the 40 percent off one item coupons Jo-Ann always puts out.
The second and fourth Saturday of every month are the two days of the month when Kohl's (KSS) has the biggest markdowns.
Macy's (M) goal is have all the markdowns ready for Tuesday's store opening, James said he was told by a women's apparel manager. That means get to the store on Tuesday morning, if you can.
Wednesday is the day to expect to best shot at markdowns, James said. Markdowns and clearance rack additions are typically done on Tuesday nights or early Wednesday, he said.
Markdowns at Target (TGT) are more complex than you'll find at most retailers because they happen on different days for different departments. Monday, for example, expect new markdowns in electronics, accessories, kids clothes, books, baby products and stationery. On Tuesday, markdowns will be in domestics, women's clothing, pets and food items.