Scoring a deal can be exhilarating, but not all bargains are created equal. Just because an item's on sale, doesn't mean you're getting the biggest bang for your buck, and some sales you may actually want to ignore.
For example, if that blouse you have your eye on is only discounted 15%, you may want to hold off since it's actually a below-average deal. Yes, waiting may mean missing out on your size and preferred color, but get this: researchers at ShopItToMe an online fashion sale aggregator, say markdowns on clothing average 42% year-round. During the month of October, the average sale price is 45%.
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If you're willing to be patient, your best bet is to wait until after the New Year to stock up on new clothes. ShopItToMe found that January is one of the best months for clothing sales. In fact, January 15th and 16th are among the top 20 days for online clothing discounts the entire year.
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Next, if you're looking to upgrade your electronics, skip the sales in October. Discounts on items like cameras and laptops are only expected to get better the closer we get to the holidays. According to DealNews.com on Black Friday weekend, HDTV prices will fall 20% lower than the best prices they've seen offered before. Laptop computer discounts will hit rock bottom at that time as well. And the best time to buy digital SLR cameras is right after the holidays since the newest models hit store shelves in January and February, pushing retailers to slash prices on previous versions.
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Another time when it's best to brush off a sale is when you have to spend more in order to get the deal. For example, items offered "10 for $10" sound enticing but, unless you need all 10, it's probably best to just walk away. And by the way, many stores will honor the discount, even when you buy fewer amounts. These so-called "volume" deals are often just marketing tricks so retailers can clear their inventory quickly.
Item limits can trick shoppers into spending more, as well. When a product on sale is advertised as "limit five per customer," it makes it sound scarce, encouraging us to stock up, even if we don't need all five items.
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Finally, flash sales - those offered for only a limited time, usually at online daily deal web sites - entice shoppers to buy with the thrill of a bargain. The time restraint makes you feel like you've got to act fast, and many people end up ordering products and services they don't need or have time to use. In fact, reports say 20 to 30% of discounted vouchers purchased from daily deal websites like Groupon, Living Social and GiltCity go unused.
And, as always, we want to hear from you. What are some sales you know to ignore? Connect with me on Twitter @Farnoosh and use the hashtag #finfit.