Back in January, I noticed that Banana Republic was absolutely flooding my inbox with promotional emails.
That, in itself, is not unusual. Email is a low-investment, high-return form of marketing, so if you're on a retailer's mailing list, you're going to get a lot of promotions. But what struck me was that virtually every email was advertising a big sale. Sure, you had the occasional "check out our spring collection" email, but the vast majority were offering in-store and online sales that discounted all or most items. And these were big discounts: For a good two-week period, the chain offered a 30 percent or 40 percent off sale every single day.
The flood of deals has slowed a bit since then, but I'm still seeing very frequent emails from the retailer offering similar discounts. So now I have a rule: If I want to buy something at Banana Republic, I will always wait for a sale. After all, a big discount is probably just a few days away, so why would I ever pay full price?
Banana Republic (GPS) is hardly the only retailer where this is the case. We asked Dealnews to dig through its deal data from the last few months to find out which retailers tend to have sales and big coupons most often. For the purposes of this experiment, we decided to narrow our focus to 'universal' sales and coupons -- those where most or all items in the store are discounted by a fixed amount. Sales which are restricted to one department of the store, or which are vague in how much you're saving ("up to 40 percent") are not included. The idea is that if you've got your eye on a particular item at the store, you have a pretty good chance of seeing it get marked down in the immediate future.
Based on this research, we've determined that the following six retailers (presented in no particular order) have sales frequently enough that you should almost always avoid paying the sticker price there.
Matt Brownell is the consumer and retail reporter for DailyFinance. You can reach him at Matt.Brownell@teamaol.com, and follow him on Twitter at @Brownellorama.