Stores offer many happy non-returns

Jennifer Collins Dec 26, 2011

Adriene Hill: This holiday shopping season has a sequel. It starts today…

It’s a Monday, where a whole lot of people are home from work with new shiny gift cards and dreams of two for one sweaters and 60 percent off scarves.

Some analysts expect today will be among the very busiest mall days of the year. But all you bargain hunters, be wary. You’re going to be competing with the folks looking to return that baby-blue bathrobe, and some people willing to brave the crowds to get an even bigger discount on they stuff they already bought before Christmas.

Marketplace’s Jennifer Collins explains.

Jennifer Collins: You’ve probably had this feeling before:

Walmart ad: Great prices. I just wish you could guarantee me they won’t be beat.

Even by the store you’re in. In an age of constant discounts, stores like Kohl’s, Banana Republic, Sears and Abercrombie & Fitch all offer shoppers something called price protection or price adjustments. Wendy Liebmann of WSL Strategic Retail says if you buy something, and a week or two later the store’s selling it at a lower price:

Wendy Liebmann: If you’re willing to come back, we’ll give you the sale price.

Liebmann says lots of people don’t know about the policy or don’t want to hassle with the return. Retail consultant Joel Bines of AlixPartners says many stores have had tacit policies like this for years.

Joel Bines: What they’re doing now is they’re just publicizing this as yet another marketing tool to give consumers the comfort that they’re going to get a good deal if they shop at that particular retailer.

Bines says many of the price adjustments are offered as store credit.

I’m Jennifer Collins for Marketplace.

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