|Shitty picture taken with my shitty phone because my shitty computer is in the shop.|
up to 80% off!
60% off! *select items
One brand of luggage we sold was pretty shitty--the largest piece was worth about $40. But it was always "marked down" to that price by something like 60%. Legally that meant that we had to display that shit for a certain amount of time at the "regular" price before it could go "on sale." (I realize the scare quotes are getting excessive, but I think they are warranted here.) So we would display it inconspicuously in some back corner of the store for a few weeks, while I would do my best to politely discourage people from buying it. At the "regular" price, it cost the same as several much better quality options. Finally we would put up a 60% OFF SALE! sign up and mark it down to the proper price--and then repeat the whole process with some identically shitty luggage in a slightly different color.
The point is that even though the "regular" price was kind of bogus and a total rip-off, there were laws in place to prevent us from immediately putting it on the floor at the lower price and calling it a sale. But recently a bunch of American stores have been caught doing exactly that, including Nordstrom Rack, Kohls, J. Crew, Macy's, JC Penney, and Bloomingdales. I don't know if it's that US laws are less strict (though some of these retailers have faced lawsuits), or if the companies just decided to go ahead and engage in this kind of deceptive marketing/pricing because why not. This BuzzFeed article on the problem is quite good.
I suspected something like this was going on with J. Crew Factory, because they send me weekly "40% off! *Prices as marked" emails, and everything is always the same price as usual. (The key word for recognizing an actual sale is "extra," as in "Extra 30% off everything with code NOTSCREWINGYOUTHISTIME." This fake sale pricing seems to be especially a problem in outlet stores.
So the moral is that it's a good idea to always comparison shop and not to be seduced by a big percent off sticker, because chances are these companies will keep trying to fuck us over whenever they can.
I've been thinking about how this lesson might apply in particular to beauty shopping, and I'd love to hear your thoughts on the matter. One thing that has occurred to me is how much range there is in the "regular price" of drugstore products (thanks to Michelle for reminding me that I'd been meaning to write about this). For instance, I bought the lipstick above, Revlon Super Lustrous in Berry Haute at Target at their regular price of $4.99. Meanwhile, CVS sells the Super Lustrous line for $8.99 a piece. Now, CVS constantly has sales, especially if you have their store card, and right now they have a BOGO 50% off deal on all Revlon products. But even if you bought two of these lipsticks as part of that sale, you'd still be spending more than you would at Target--and they just suckered
me you into buying two things instead of one. It may just be pricing based on volume, so that Target sells more product than CVS and therefore can lower the price (though my local CVS is always packed with college women and most things are sold out--the pricing seems to be national). Another problem with simply concluding that one should always shop at Target (or the equivalent) and never at CVS (or the equivalent) occurs if you are like me and live in a city center and have a hard time getting out to the suburbs where all the big box stores are. Maybe that extra few bucks is worth the hour you'd have to spend on the bus or the extra gas or whatever.
I'll stop rambling now and ask you to add whatever thoughts you have in the comments. As usual, I advise you to comparison shop and be suspicious of marketing. And I always try to be sure that when I post about a deal on here, it's an actual deal, but always feel free to point out if there's ever anything shifty going on.
(An aside: Berry Haute looks like a pretty purple in the bullet, but on my lips it turns into a much less interesting pinky-mauve. And it's not as moisturizing as Cherries in the Snow. Not a bad lipstick, but still a little womp womp.)