Get the lowdown on markdowns.
Q. Are promotional offers a good deal?
A. Store credit cards tend to have high APRs. So that 15 percent discount that you got for signing up usually isn’t worth it in the long run if you carry a balance. As for purchase coupons, like “Spend $100, get $25 off” and “Buy two, get one free,” they make sense only if you’re already close to spending the minimum—within $10. “If you’re a few dollars away, go for it. But if not, then you’re being lured into spending unnecessarily,” says Andrea Howe, the founder of the style blog FortheLoveOf.net.
Q. What can I do if I paid full price and then the item got marked down?
A. Contact the store or call customer service about getting a credit for the difference. The rule is usually within 7 to 14 days. Banana Republic, Gap, and others will honor this, but it’s determined on a case-by-case basis. Take a screenshot of the lower price and e-mail it to customer service with your invoice or receipt. Some sites, like Nordstrom.com, will also honor a price drop from a similar retailer, as long as the item is still available at their stores in the same size and color.
Q. Which day of the week does merchandise get discounted?
A. It depends on the retailer, so “ask what day the new merchandise comes in, since that’s usually when markdowns happen to make room for the new stuff,” says Emily Lytle, a Chicago-based wardrobe consultant. Friday mornings can be an especially good time to hit the jackpot, says Kathy Spencer, the author of How to Shop for Free ($15, amazon.com) and the founder of HowToShopForFree.net. “Most stores start their weekend sales and promotions on Friday mornings, which means you’ll get first dibs before the mobs,” she says.