Here is how to make sure you don’t drop the ball when it comes to getting the best value for your money…
Sales. Are they worth it?
Much of the promotional talk centres around “great deals”, “don’t miss this opportunity”, “sign up for great benefits”, “receive exclusive offers”, etc. Often, you will find that these have a very short availability and are known as “Lightning Deals”. If you are wondering if you can really get a genuine deal in the big sales events, such as Black Friday or Cyber Monday for instance, the answer is: yes and no. If you’ve done your research and are one of the first to access the sales, you’ll probably get what you want. If you’re looking to make a spontaneous purchase, however, the sale stock might be no longer available for late shoppers, just like in the actual shops.
To make sure you get the best deal available, keep these things in mind:
- Make sure you’re getting a real deal – we’ve all seen examples of “deals” where retailers simply inflate the prices before reducing them down again in order to give customers the impression of getting “a huge discount”, so it’s advisable to track the price of your chosen product to see if the end price represents a genuine, net reduction after tax and shipping added in.
- Keep in mind that scheduled sales events (like Black Friday/Cyber Monday) are a way for retailers to shift surplus stock and maybe an opportunity to clear some warehouse space for new stock, so the selection of reduced items are not what you may expect or, indeed, worth buying even with the reduction in price.
- Be aware that businesses must ensure that deals terms and time limits are clear and that they can supply the on-sale products for the increased demand generated by the promotional campaigns. Which is why customers should carefully consider “while stocks last” claims as it may be that, ultimately, only a small number of a particular product is available, meaning that it may be an end-of-line product that will sell out very fast.
- Sometimes, substantial discounts may not, in the end, be available to most customers – this happens when businesses fail to ensure that enough consumers can take advantage of products sold at the highest discount point stated rather than many products at the lowest end. So don’t be disappointed that, by the time, you get to the sale page, the largest discounts are already gone.
Shop, but don’t get caught out …
Always ask yourself if what you are getting really is a great deal. If in doubt, remember these 7 simple tips from European Consumer Centre Ireland:
- Don’t assume any advertised deals are the best deals of the year — Products go on sale all the time these days, so don’t let the over-the-top marketing and feeling of urgency overwhelm your common sense. Particularly this year when more people migrate online for their shopping, the price deals generated by increased volumes are getting better and more frequent.
- Do your research, compare prices and retailers — Look up the price before sale to make sure you really are getting an actual deal on your desired purchase. Do that on the websites of several retailers to get the most competitive deal. Always look at the final price rather than the saving discount, which is often vague, such as “up to XX% off”. If you are looking for a particular deal on a particular item, bookmark the web pages ahead of time to see the price updates when the sales launch at your chosen retailers. Make sure that price comparison claims between competitors are fair, verifiable and refer to like-for-like products/versions.
- Look for additional savings with no strings attached — Many retailers will offer genuine, no-obligation add-ons to deals, such as free delivery, temporary discount codes and exclusive subscribers promotions. It’s worth signing up to retailers’ newsletters, loyalty programmes and/or following them on social media as this may give you early access to deals and additional discounts on top of the sale prices.
- Get a great deal on a quality product — Don’t let the lure of a huge discount make you buy what is ultimately a poor-value product. Think of the discounted price as a bonus rather than using it as your starting point for your purchase. Superior quality products will also be more sustainable and durable, and often come with extended warranty/guarantee which means you are ultimately getting more out of your purchase.
- Don’t fall for old news — Massive sales events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday are great for high-end tech products and entertainment gadgets. But, remember, that the sales are also a way for shops to shift old stock quickly before the technology becomes obsolete. While you might get a great price, you inadvertently might be buying old technology, which comes with limited features and compatibility issues that are outside warranty and/or are no longer supported by the manufacturer.
- Save even more with ‘click and collect’ options — Consider buying online and collect at a later stage while saving on the delivery fee.
- As always, check the small print — The rules that govern special offers and flash sales can be vague. Marketing tactics can make offers look better than they are: you may find that shops advertise “X% Off Everything!*”, followed by “*exclusions apply”. So make sure you are getting the product you want, at the right price.
Shop smartly and safely with our tips here.
Learn how to keep your online shopping safe and secure at all times here.
Find out more about what to do if you change your mind here.
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