Friday, May 25, 2012

Take THAT, JCPenney

So, back in February, JCP rolled out a "new" pricing plan.  No longer would they have sales or coupons.  Now everything would be at a constant price until it was permanently marked down.

People like me, who shop with a coupon, who carefully compare prices, and who enjoy the thrill of the bargain hunt, hated it.  I personally haven't been in JCP since mid January when I used my last $10 off coupon.

People who don't care about coupons, who can't be bothered to watch for sales, who just want to get X item right now thought this pricing strategy was genius.

Everyone made much of the concept of "marking up to mark down".  Yes, JCP had ridiculous prices on their  merchandise, and then a big "percent off" that would bring it down to a more reasonable price.  I understand that.  The theory is that the "new" structure would eliminate that, giving each item a fair price right out of the gate. 

Problem is, they used the opportunity to mark up the eventual price by a few dollars, and did away with some of their best deals in the process. 

JCP wants you to believe that under their old pricing structure, they'd take a $50 shirt and offer it for 30% off ($35), and under their new pricing structure, the shirt would be $35, plain and simple.  Problem is, what they did was take that shirt that would have been $35, and make it $38.  Now it LOOKS like the shirt is offered at a lower price to begin with, and they can argue that the shirt is worth $38 forever and ever and ever amen.

But in the past, they'd offer that $50 shirt at 30% off and then mail you a coupon for $10 off, making the eventual cost only $25.  Or the following week they'd offer the $50 shirt at 60% off ($20).  Hmmmm.  When compared to their worst sales, the new pricing structure is grand, especially if you can't be bothered to wait for a sale.  But if you DO wait for sales, JCP gives you nothing now.   It won't matter if you wait; that shirt will be the same price. 

My first stop when shopping at JCP was the clearance racks.  Yes, I realize that at 70% off, the clearance was only a shade less than the 60% sale.  However, 70% off of a $20 item is still a significant savings, and if you have a coupon, guess what, it's free.  You can pick up two of them for a total of only $2.  Tell me how that is MORE expensive than a "fair" price of $15 to begin with?

I read an article today that claimed consumers prefer being shafted to getting an actual fair price.  That they want to FEEL like they're saving money, and the actual savings doesn't matter.  Bullshit.  I only ever shopped at JCP when I had a $10 coupon.  I would frequently pick up a blouse for $2 or a workout outfit for $6.  I often had to pick up a second item in order to make the $10 purchase minimum!  At the change of the seasons, I would find tons  of great shirts for my husband for less than $10---sometimes I'd  come home with 2 shirts for $4 after the discounts and my coupon.

You want "fair", JCP?  You can't shaft me, because I am smarter than you.  You lost all my business!  

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Party Favors--super bargain!

My daughter is in preschool, and they are celebrating the summer birthdays during the month of May so the kids get a chance to have their birthday in school.  The "approved treats" list is very restrictive, and kind of expensive.  Special allergen-specific brands and prewrapped treats; nothing homemade.  So I decided to make goody bags. 

It's been a while since I made goody bags I suppose because as I looked at the aisles of "theme birthday" merchandise at my local party shop, I was shocked.  Favors were never really high quality, but these were total junk---and for $3 for a package of 12.  I'd have to buy 2 packages so that's $6 just for one item; and I'd need several per bag.   Plus, the "value" packs were nothing such; the individual items were 25 cents apiece loose and the same price in a value package.  As I wandered the store and brainstormed, I saw boxes upon boxes of things back in the Halloween costume area in the back--boxes marked "50 cents each, orange stickers only".

Well, most of the items didn't have a sticker, but clearly (since there were several lines worth of merchandise, all shopworn packages and jumbled together) these were supposed to be discounted in some way.  I rooted through boxes under the tables and found packages of Backyardigans stuff.  Some of the packages were worn, but I'm taking the things OUT of the packages anyway!  50 cents for 12 pieces of plastic junk is much more acceptable.

I loaded up my basket, deciding to make treat boxes for her actual birthday party as well:  3 packages of 8 mini frisbees, 2 packages of 12 pencils, 3 packages of 8 yoyos, 2 bags of 12 mini crayon boxes, a special baseball hat for the birthday girl, and a package of assorted card games (there was only one package of 10, so those will be for the regular party not the class).  I even got special little Backyardigans treat boxes so they will be extra special.

I took my basket up to the front and explained that while they did not have orange stickers, they were clearly meant to be discounted.  They rang up full price.  I persevered, saying since I had to dig under the table, they must be discounted.  The clerk asked for a manager who said they didn't get the stickers on the stuff yet, and it was 50 cents for everything.  They had to get another manager to override the prices (which was fine with me).

All in all, I got enough to make 24 themed treat boxes for only $8.66 including tax.  The items originally rang up over $30. 

I'll call that a success!