9 secrets big retailers don't want you to know

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...

Secrets Big Retailers Don't Want You to Know

From online shopping to rewards clubs, today's shoppers have to navigate a maze of discounts, coupons, specials and offers to get the best deals on their favorite items. Some "deals" are huge money-savers, but some stores use sneaky strategies to dupe customers into paying more. To save money at your favorite retailers, keep these secrets in mind before you head to the checkout line.

10 PHOTOS
9 secrets big retailers don't want you to know (GOBankingRates.com)
See Gallery
9 secrets big retailers don't want you to know (GOBankingRates.com)

1. Sales Aren't Always Really Sales

One way that retailers get you to spend is by holding a major sale, said Nikki Sunshine, content manager for DealsPlus and blogger for the DealsPlus Blog.

“Prices typically get marked up before a sale starts, and when you read the price tag, the discount amount may suggest you will save more money than you actually will,” she said. “Department stores and even smaller retailers often increase prices to protect their margins right before a big sale.”

That’s not to say that all retailers do this, of course. However, it’s important to do your due diligence before you buy.

One way to do that, Sunshine suggested, is to ask how long a sale item has been on sale. “If it’s been on the sale rack for a while, that’s a warning sign that the product was never actually sold at the original retail price,” she said.

Photo credit: Courtesy of GOBankingRates.com / iStock/mediaphotos

2. Beware of Free Shipping Minimums

Shipping minimums are among the perks that shoppers prize the most — and retailers know it, said consumer and money-saving expert Andrea Woroch. That’s why online stores often use the lure of free shipping to encourage shoppers to buy more.

“Free shipping minimums encourage the shopper to spend more to qualify for that free delivery,” Woroch said. “Always make sure you look for free shipping deals through sites like FreeShipping.org. Many retailers will offer a free ship-to-store option.”

The free ship-to-store option can be financially beneficial for shoppers. “Not only is it more convenient to order online and pick up in the store than it is to actually walk around the store and find the item yourself, but some items may be sold exclusively online,” said Woroch. “It’s one way around the shipping cost.”

She also recommended shopping with retailers that offer low free-shipping thresholds, such as Target ($25), or joining Amazon Prime if you shop online enough to justify the annual fee.

Photo credit: Courtesy of GOBankingRates.com / iStock/Catherine Lane

3. Ask for a Price Match and You'll Probably Get One

One of the biggest unknown store secrets is that many retailers offer price matching — even if they don’t advertise it. But you can easily find which stores offer price-match guarantees by doing a simple Google search.

“Whenever you are shopping at a major store, search their name along with the term ‘price match’,” said Alex Reichmann, CEO of iTestCash.

“If you find out that they have a price match, then you can search online for any item that you are looking to buy,” he continued. “Once you find a cheaper price than theirs, show them at the counter. This could save you on both shipping costs and wait time for delivery by purchasing on the spot at the store.”

Photo credit: Courtesy of GOBankingRates.com / iStock/FangXiaNuo

4. Bulk Doesn't Always Equal Bargain

Customers can save money by buying in bulk, a psychology on which some stores have based their entire business models. But sometimes, less is more.

“Warehouse stores like Costco and Sam’s Clubs are designed to get you to spend more,” said Benjamin Glaser, features editor with DealNews. “Bulk buying creates the appearance of value, and it certainly can be real, as these stores do offer some great prices. Check the unit prices to confirm that buying in bulk will actually save you money compared to buying smaller portions.”

Glaser reminded shoppers that most bulk stores charge membership fees, which can offset savings.

Photo credit: Courtesy of GOBankingRates.com / iStock/YinYang

5. Forgo the BOGO

The classic buy-one-get-one — BOGO — deal is hard to resist, but it doesn’t always mean you’re actually getting something free.

“Shoppers can easily be convinced to buy two of almost anything when there’s a BOGO deal,” Sunshine said.

“Remember to always look at the prices and/or discounts before you assume that you will be saving money by purchasing a second item,” she said. “Most of the time, these deals are designed to trick you into thinking there’s a really great discount while you are really just spending more money.”

Photo credit: Courtesy of GOBankingRates.com / iStock/gilaxia

6. The Carnival Mirror Effect

Woroch has written and spoken about how retailers use dressing room tricks to make you spend money.

“Retailers use distorted mirrors to make shoppers appear thinner, knowing that most people will buy clothing if they like the way they look in it,” she said.

“Some stores will tilt the mirror to create a longer and leaner reflection, or use dim lighting to make you appear tanner, which also improves your appearance,” Woroch said. “Always check your reflection in a mirror on the store’s sales floor, and make sure you can return items for a full refund in case you realize you don’t really like the way you look when you get home.”

Photo credit: Courtesy of GOBankingRates.com / iStock/gpointstudio

7. Store Credit Cards: You Could Probably Do Better

Sales associates push store credit cards to shoppers because they often receive a commission for each member they sign up, said Woroch. Retail credit cards generally offer a one-time discount of 10 to 20 percent.

“Retailers know, though, that shoppers are likely to buy more in that single transaction to maximize that one-time savings and will continually spend more when swiping a store card,” Woroch said. “What’s more, these store cards come with extremely high APRs, retroactive interest and limited rewards — if any at all — plus pricey late fees and other penalties. If you don’t shop at this store often, you may forget about the new account and miss a payment, making that initial discount obsolete.”

When choosing a credit card, remember to keep APRs, fees and rewards in mind. Instead of a store credit card, your best bet might be a cash-back credit card or some other type of rewards card.

Photo credit: Courtesy of GOBankingRates.com / iStock/Susan Chiang

8. If You Want a Discount, Learn the Schedule

Although BOGOs and clearance sales can be deceiving, many stores do routinely hold legitimate sales that can be lucrative to shoppers. In most cases, these discounts are pre-planned and follow a schedule.

“One of the more honest secrets that big retailers hide from consumers is that they actually have a discount schedule,” Sunshine said. “Every store is unique, but you can easily learn your favorite store’s saving schedule by nicely asking a sales associate.”

For example, according to Sunshine, Macy’s is known to mark down items Sunday through Tuesday. JCPenney, on the other hand, does price reductions on the first and third Friday of every month.

Photo credit: Courtesy of GOBankingRates.com / iStock/SamuelBrownNG

9. Store Layouts Encourage Impulse Purchases

Retailers know that endcaps can entice you to purchase something extra on the spur of the moment when you’re stalled in or near the checkout line.

“A very sneaky trick that almost every retailer uses is the placement of endcaps,” Sunshine said. “These are the items placed at the end of the aisle, or even conveniently in the checkout line.”

But it doesn’t stop there — store layouts play on human psychology in other ways.

“Oftentimes, a store will organize their merchandise so that the more expensive items are on the right side of the store,” Sunshine said. “Studies have determined that a majority of shoppers turn to the right when they walk into a store. This pattern is thought to correlate to the fact that the majority of the population is right-handed. A store may even have brighter lights and louder music on the right side of the store to entice you toward the pricier items.”

Photo credit: Courtesy of GOBankingRates.com / iStock/mediaphotos

of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

Find Out: How to Get Free Gift Cards at Your Favorite Retailers and Restaurants

This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: 9 Secrets Big Retailers Don't Want You to Know

More from GOBankingRates.com:
5 Billionaires Like Oprah Winfrey Who Grew Up Poor
20 Secrets to Buying a Car Only Dealers Know
How Paying Yourself First Can Help You Save More Money

RELATED: America's favorite retailers

10 PHOTOS
America's favorite retailers
See Gallery
America's favorite retailers
VANCOUVER, BC - SEPTEMBER 16: A general atmosphere view during the In-Store Opening Gala at Nordstrom Pacific Centre on September 16, 2015 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Andrew Chin/Getty Images for Nordstrom)
Shoppers ride an escalator near a Nordstrom Inc. store at the Westfield San Francisco Shopping Centre in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Tuesday, May 12, 2015. Nordstrom Inc. is expected to release earnings figures on May 14. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
GLENDALE, CA - SEPTEMBER 17: Atmosphere during the Nordstrom store opening gala at The Americana at Brand on September 17, 2013 in Glendale, California. (Photo by Donato Sardella/Getty Images for Nordstrom)
Pedestrians walk past an Hennes & Mauritz AB (H&M) store in the Center City area of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., on Saturday, March 21, 2015. The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, a survey which measures attitudes about the economy, is scheduled to be released on March 26. Photographer: Charles Mostoller/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Shoppers look at clothing during the grand opening of the Hennes & Mauritz AB (H&M) flagship store in New York, U.S., on Thursday, July 17, 2014. At 57,000 square feet, the new flagship located at 589 Fifth Avenue is the worlds largest H&M store. Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A shopper is reflected in the window of a Marshalls Plc store in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Tuesday, March 3, 2015. The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, a survey which is measures attitudes about the economy, is scheduled to be released on March 5. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Marshall's store sign
SOME OF THE MANY DRESSES at the Ross Dress for Less store in Pico Rivera shop on 11/14/75. (Photo by Gary Friedman/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
Ross Dress for Less sign in Thousand Oaks, CA
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

Read Full Story

People are Reading