DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – With back-to-school shopping in full swing, storefronts big and small are often adorned with advertisements filled with eye-catching phrases like “one-day-only” and “biggest sale.”
But a CBS 11 investigation from March to May found sales items that always seemed to be on the sale rack. We spent two months following prices at Macy’s, Fry’s Electronics and Justice for Girls and found men’s shirts, girl’s clothing, printers, pots and pans that always seemed to be part of a sale.
Dan Howard, professor and marketing director at Southern Methodist University’s Cox School of Business, called this “the scarcity tactic.”
“If a brand is always on sale,” he asked, “do you have a right to call it a sale?”
WBBM-TV, CBS 11’s sister station in Chicago, spent eight weeks recently inside stores there checking prices. Marketing experts there came to a similar conclusion there after seeing the results: Don’t rush out and buy. Chances are, the sale prices will linger on many of the items.
At a JC Penney’s in Illinois, a store clerk said a bed comforter on sale for $200, “came in at that sale price.”
With the undercover camera rolling, the clerk implied that the comforter had arrived at the store “on-sale” and had never been sold at its regular listed price.
And in the men’s department, a store clerk told Chicago affiliate that some shirts would “never go back to 30-dollars.
“We don’t sell stuff at full price,” the clerk said.
Kohl’s Department store advertised a price on a woman’s shirt as a one-day only sale but the WBBM-TV crew found it at that same price every Friday for eight weeks.
In fact, in half of the stores the CBS crew there checked, most of the products tracked were never offered at the full prices; not even a Calphalon cookware set at Macy’s Department store that CBS 11 Investigators followed in the original May story.
The Chicago news crew twice found the pots and pan set advertised at $599.99 as a “one day only sale.”
But that $599.99 sale price remained the same for six other Fridays. It’s the same set, and the same price, CBS 11 has found listed in Dallas stores for the entire summer.
The one time in Dallas the set was found listed at its recommended $699.99 price tag, a sales representative said it would likely be back on the “one-day only” sale after the weekend.
The representative added that shoppers can get a refund of the difference anytime it’s found it back on sale.
Justice For Girls, which was a subject of CBS 11’s initial piece, has a similar policy.
The 40 percent off sales come and go repeatedly, but when the sale is not advertised, shoppers can save their receipts and get a refund on once-discounted items most of the time.