Just Sayin’ – Part 2- Getting the Best Price in Department Stores

Taking Advantage of Department Store Sales

Just Sayin'


                                                                      Department Store Sales Tips


Welcome to Part 2 of my economical shopping tips. Today I’ll be talking about how I get the best deals when it comes to shopping in department stores.


How many times have you gone shopping for something in a department store randomly just to browse and maybe discover an item you wanted to buy, or purposely set out to purchase a particular item and perhaps that item wasn’t on sale? Did the fact that it may not have been on sale deter your from buying it? Or do you only wait for sales before you decide to buy? Well today I’m going to share a few smart shopping habits I’ve developed through the years to ensure I’m getting the best price for my purchases.


I’m not going to pretend that I’m the most frugal person on the planet, but when it comes to shopping for fashion and beauty items I don’t appreciate being a ripped off consumer when I purchase something only to find it’s on sale the following day or week. So I feel as though it’s my duty to keep on top of sales.

I do love to shop and keep on top of fashion trends and keep an eye on items that spark my fancy.  This may be just window shopping or checking things out online and it doesn’t mean every time I do so I’m buying, but I’m observing and making note of items I may like to purchase if they go on sale. And as it turns out, in most departments stores the likelihood of an item I have my eye on does eventually go on sale.


Department stores such as Macy’s and Lord and Taylor in the U.S. and here in Canada, our Hudson’s Bay (a.k.a. The Bay) use a rotating cycle  for their sales. These stores run what’s known as ‘The weekend sale” every weekend, and often other sales are run intermittently such as a flash sale (one day only), holiday sales, seasonal sales, where merchandise maybe be offered from 20 – 40% off for a time limit, as well as bonus sales for members who have and use their loyalty membership card for purchase.

It’s a huge marketing game, and if you keep track of these sales you’ll become more aware of how often the sale prices will rotate on particular items and brands weekly. For example, I love my Hudson’s Bay department store and buy most of my household small appliances, clothing and shoes from there. I have my favorite clothing and shoe brands and I often receive advance sale notice by email offering extra discounts for upcoming sales, or I’ll go to their website anywhere from Thursday night after midnight through Sunday to check out their weekend sale and have a look at the weekly flyer to check if there’s anything I’ve been eyeing that will be on sale.

Every week certain brand items will be on featured sale, offered at anywhere from 25 to 40% off regular price. If something I’ve been keeping an eye on happens to go on sale, I just might be inclined to order it at a tempting price. I’ve come to learn that each weekend sale, a group of clothing brands will be on sale and the following week another group will be on sale, and so on, learning that if an item I’ve been wanting isn’t on sale one week, it will more than likely go on sale the following week or perhaps the week after.


You may be thinking, what if you need that item today or for an upcoming occasion and you don’t want to take a chance that by the time it goes on sale they may be sold out of your size or perhaps completely out of stock. Here’s my advice: Buy it and keep your receipt.

I’ll admit that years ago I used to frown upon chronic ‘returners’ of merchandise until I realized how much money I could save becoming one of those people myself.


[bctt tweet=”Did you know you can return merchandise without returning it to get a rebate? It’s called price adjustment. ” username=”pokercubster”]


  • Most stores have a deadline for returning merchandise and limits will vary by store. For the purposes of explaining how it works I’ll talk about The Bay here in Canada. The Bay offers a 30 day return policy for merchandise not purchased with a department store credit card and 90 days returns for those with the card. Of course there are time limit exceptions on bigger ticket item purchases such as furniture, appliances and jewelry where you may only have 2 weeks to a month for returns, but basically, this is a generous amount of time to be able to return items.


  • But why would I want to return an item? Here’s the deal – keep that receipt. All merchandise may be ‘price adjusted’ within 7 days of purchase. So let’s say I purchased something at full price (rare, but it happens) and the following weekend it becomes 30 or 40% off. You can count on me doing a price check on an item I recently bought and if it’s on sale the following week, I’ll be dashing to my nearest Bay with my receipt for a price adjustment, money credited back to my account if the item goes on sale within 7 days. I’m not really returning the item but I’ll need my receipt for proof of purchase to credit back the difference to my account. I can pretty much predict that the shirt or pants I purchased the week before not on sale then, will be on sale the following week, and if not, almost certain it will be the following week.


  • But what if that item I bought doesn’t go on sale until 2 or 3 weeks later? Let me preface by saying that I do have a knack for knowing what a popular item is and I’m a great predictor of knowing a certain item won’t be around for a long time. Those circumstances may give me reason to purchase at full price because if I wait for a sale they may be sold out. That said, I will purchase the item and not wear it, keeping the tags on awaiting to ‘return’ it. If I anticipate that item I’ve purchased will be on a sale within the next few weeks and the 7 day price adjustment period has passed, and it finally does go on sale, I return it. After the return transaction, I tell the clerk I’d now like to re-purchase that same item. It’s legal and once you’ve returned it for a refund, it automatically goes back on sale for whatever the sale price is that day. Someone’s going to buy it, so why not me rebuying at a better price? The money is better in my pocket right?


  • Beware: If you’re a last minute shopper and buy that dress days before the event you want to wear it, if it doesn’t go on sale within 7 days to adjust your receipt and it does the following week after you’ve worn it – tags off – you’ll be out of luck for the return and re-buy.


  • Things to keep in mind:  If you plan ahead for occasions you know you’ll be needing a new blouse or outfit for eventually and purchase that item in well-planned time, this will give you time to let it stay unworn with tags still on and eligible for it to go on sale before the time comes you have to wear it. Remember, if you’re going to do a return, the tags must still be attached to the merchandise and not worn. This is why it pays to plan ahead and purchase ahead of time for upcoming events.




  • If you can wait for an item to go on sale, do so.

  • If you can’t wait and purchase an item, make sure to check the following weekend sale to see if your purchased item is on sale to obtain a price adjustment.

  • If you buy something you love not on sale try not to wear the item for a week or two to see if it goes on sale so you can return and re-purchase.

  • For items you know you will be needing, such as a dress for a special occasion, buy it within the month in advance of the event even if it’s not on sale and most likely before the month passes it will go on sale where you can return and re-buy it.


Happy shopping!!

48 thoughts on “Just Sayin’ – Part 2- Getting the Best Price in Department Stores

  1. I find nowadays that many shops here in the UK do not want to give you back the money you spent if you need to return an item. Instead they give you a ‘credit note’ so that you can buy something else. Not good, as far as I’m concerned.


  2. Love your way of shopping Debby.. and like Stevie Turner in the comments here in the UK on some items they will offer a credit note.. Not all stores some will give you your money back with receipt .. 🙂 But I had not heard of any refunding a full paid item difference from a sale item.. Interesting.. 🙂

    Hope you had a wonderful weekend Debby.. We had a wonderful one.. LOVE and Hugs my friend xxx ❤


    1. Thanks Sue. The only time we’ll get a credit note is if the return period has lapsed, or it was brought back without receipt and the item is on sale for less. You’ll get back only the sale price. That doesn’t seem fair! 🙂 Thanks my friend. I worked the weekend away. Maybe next week! 🙂 Hugs xoxo


      1. I can understand that return policy, Debby. Without a dated receipt I’m sure enough cheaters would purchase on sale and attempt to get a refund for the original price that the stores profit margins would shrink considerably. Your point about saving those receipts is so important.

        I tend not to buy much at all anymore at this time in my life. I’m clearing out, not adding more. When I do, unless it is an ‘essential’ purchase to replace one of my basics, I rarely buy anything that is NOT on sale – which is a good thing since those receipts seem to disappear into the ozone.

        Since I sew well enough to make basic alterations and understand clothing construction, I am not as tethered to buying only in my size as many. BEST budget tip ever is to learn to sew! Larger sizes abound on those sale racks, and many are a cinch to alter.

        When I trip across a super deal on a basic I snap up several whenever the budget allows, too (witness the number of black pants hanging in my closet, and never worn black leggings in my drawers – just hit a sale at under $5 for the lighter weight and under $4 for winter weight – who could resist stocking up during that one?)

        I shopped a great deal more when I lived in NYC, walking by all those great stores on the way to somewhere else – but ‘shopping’ and ‘buying’ were always two different events for me. I only purchased during a ‘shopping’ spree if the item was something I had already shopped, so I immediately recognized it as a great deal. (I always had to warn anyone with me who didn’t know me well that my rapid-fire decision making was NOT typical – lol).

        I surely miss ‘retail therapy’ these days, however. I simply cannot afford to buy or rent a new place to home many more purchases! 🙂
        (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
        ADD/EFD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
        “It takes a village to educate a world!”


      2. Love your logic Madelyn. And yes, knowing how to sew is a great help. Thankfully, I can hem, and repair, but my days of home economics in junior high learning how to sew actual articles from a pattern have long escaped me.
        I had to laugh at your many ‘black’ pants. I have those too, for all the same reasons. I notice many of my friends doing a lot more purging and more minimalistic these past few years. I do annual purges but it’s time to get on the bandwagon. Lol. 🙂 xx


      3. I will NEVER be a minimalist by choice (and I do love having choices), but the time has come to stop buying and pare down if I ever hope to move without the aid of an army!

        Just came back from walking Tink to pick up my purse – out the door again.


  3. Though the tag “Fancy” is attached to my online brand, I don’t often shop for clothes and don’t follow fashion trends. (Do I hear you gasp?) Since I stick with classic styles, I imagine that I look okay. My daughter disagrees and hauled me off today to a shopping spree at Dillard’s, probably comparable to a Macy’s.

    I came back with 3 pairs of slacks – white, black, navy and 2 cute tops, and another with a hood. After all we are celebrating our 50th in cool and breezy British Columbia this July/August. Gotta look good!

    Thanks for the tips, Debby. My daughter is a kindred spirit. By the way, all but one item was on sale. Lucky me!


    1. Yay Marian. Glad to hear you went on a little spree and caught sales! Wow 50th??? You look amazing! Sounds like a great trip, but I really thought it would be quite warm there in summer. Make sure you take some sleeveless tops! And oh, I love Dillards too, but Macy’s is my fav! 🙂


  4. Fascinating tactics Miss Gies… the stores you frequent will be like casinos in Vegas… have you clocked as soon as you are in the door..alternatively you could approach them and see if they would like to employ you to show people how to savvy shop in their store…they still want to encourage people even at sale prices. Anyway.. shop in disguise my friend in future! xxx♥


    1. Lol Sal. Funny you should mention. I cannot count how many times in my lifetime I have been approached by random customers while shopping, asking me either, if I worked there, or complimenting me for the way I was dressed and asking my opinion about something they were contemplating to buy. I was always questioning why people would pick me out of a store randomly to ask for assistance.I always felt as though I had a sticker on my forehead – shopper. LOL 🙂 ❤


      1. You got that right my friend! If I’m picked out at airports, there’s no hope for me in a retail store LOLLLLLLLLLL 🙂 xoxo


  5. Buying an item and then not wearing it for a few weeks in case I can return it for a sale price is a good tip! I hadn’t thought of that. Thanks, Debby ♥


  6. Pretty cool tips, Debby. I used to be a bigger shopper, now I tend to favor TJ Maxx and Ross. These are discount stores that are pretty big in the U.S. Although, I have to say, in our little corner of the world, Kohl’s, Dillards, and Penneys always seem to have most of their merchandise on sale. I think that most of our brick and mortar stores are having a tough time keeping up with Amazon. I’m a big jewelry fan and actually make (and sell) costume jewelry. Every now and then I can actually be persuaded to buy some new clothing by watching one of my favorite beauty/style bloggers, HotandFlashy on Youtube. She and I have similar taste, and she doesn’t do all high-end items. I am also a fan of a few more YouTubers and enjoy watching their channels. Great post, I agree that a penny saved is a penny earned!


    1. Thanks for sharing your info Lana. Yes, we have Winner’s and Marshall’s here, which is exactly like your TJ Max, which I love when I’m in the US. And I know there are many Youtubers demonstrating and sharing items for sale, which in turn goes with online sales. I definitely think America is trying to phase out retail shopping. A scary fact indeed! 🙂 xx


  7. Brilliant! I was just at the Bay today, in fact. Much of their summer merchandise is now on sale. I tend to buy sale items and then not like them later. But I have learned to ask myself “if this was not on sale, would I still buy it?” if the answer is no, I simply put it back on the rack. (Unless I’m bullied—reference to my red shoes LOL).

    I was wondering after shopping there today, if the Bay is going to survive the times. The service was terrible. They only had one changing room open and there was a line up to use it. Not cool on a Wednesday afternoon. Maybe on the weekend, I could see that.

    Thanks for the tips, DG! You are a savvy shopper!


    1. HI Lisa! Nice to see you pop over! Lol, nice to learn about a fellow Bay shopper. OMG don’t get me started! I believe you live in western Canada? Here in Toronto we have several Bays and I think I’ve been in all of them over time. Many of them have become horrendous to shop in for reasons you mention. What they’ve done a few years ago was take away their ‘service’ desks where they used to have a row of cashiers at a check out counter. Then most Bays re-vamped and took away the service counters and many only have ONE check out tiny counter with usually 1 or 2 if you’re lucky at the cash and terribly long waits in lines. That’s why I mostly shop online. Now I mostly have to face the lineups for a return. They’ve made several cuts and I saw in the news the other day they are making many more because they say most shoppers are online now. So, what about those who aren’t online shoppers? As I can tell just by some commenters here, many here don’t prefer online. I think, like most stores, they are eventually heading to online only. That’s a scary thought. I’m already noticing how many commercial stores and buildings are being torn down here in Toronto because the greed of the real estate market, and building more condos because there’s no land left. Too many people living here without enough roads. Our traffic is becoming like New York! Arg, don’t get me started! And yes, I had to laugh when you mentioned the ‘red shoes’. 🙂 xx


      1. OMG, the online shopping is taking the old fashioned in person style of shopping away. I hate to sound old but that makes me sad. Part of going out shopping is for the interaction (not to mention making sure things fit and look good). I hate to think the shops will ALL turn to online only. Wah! Oh, yes don’t get me started on the condo real estate market. UGH. The worst!!


      2. My sentiments exactly, on both counts Lisa. That would be a sad day, especially for the computer illiterate. I think if that happened they’d be losing out on a lot of business.


  8. I live in the UK and like some of the early commenters I would have to check specific policies. I am spending a fair amount of time in Spain but again I’d have to check, as I’m not sure what their exact policies are. YOu’ve given me much to think about, although I’m also becoming much more frugal these days, and I tend to always buy items on sale (unless it’s an unexpected emergency).
    Thanks for the tricks, Debby and I agree with Sally…


    1. Glad you found this helpful Olga. Also, you can always go to the store’s online page and scroll to the bottom for their return policies. Of course they aren’t going to alert you to the idea of returning and re-buying, but as long as you’re within the time frame allowed for returns, you’d have every right to re-buy. 🙂 xx


  9. Well, here you go, here’s something you may like, Debby. I recently purchased a dinner service from a department store and kept it in the box. A few weeks later, it went on sale. I took the item back, said I did not want it anymore and, as it had not been used, I got my money back! Yes, they gave me the choice of cash or a credit note. I took the money and went and purchased the same dinner service for 50% less.

    Something else we’ve done this week. Some items come with a guarantee. We purchased a garden table and chairs, four years ago, that came with a five year guarantee that it would not rust! We found some rust on the table and on two of the chairs. We rang the store, and they asked us to take the set back to them. We ended up getting a brand new garden table and chairs in exchange for the rusty set. So, keep those receipts for as long as the item has a guarantee. ?


      1. After reading your shopping tips post of last week, this week I’ve saved myself over £40 on men’s grooming products. OK, I may now have a lot of the stuff in the house, but I’ve saved money. Thanks for all the tips, Debby


    1. We have used this technique as well, Hugh! We had “lounge cushions” with a metal frame in them on our sailboat. It had a lifetime warranty, so, every time one of them broke or the fabric started to show rust stains, we brought it back to the nearest marine store and received a new one. I think we did this about four times all along the East Coast of the US and then, we left the country and they had to live their lives until we threw them out.


    1. Thanks Michelle! I was in the clothing business for year, both retail and buyer. I used to have women come to me just so I could outfit them. I always told them the truth – if something looked like crap on them, I’d find them something to suit their best attributes. I once thought about becoming a personal shopper but never followed through. Now, who has the time? Lol 🙂


  10. Smart shopping, Debby! But, you still need to keep an eye on those sales and go to the store in person. I don’t often buy clothes and am never long enough in one area to return them anyway, but I always keep the tags for a while, just in case. In the past, I have “borrowed” stuff from Walmart, keeping the tags/codes (not attached) and receipts and then returning the items after one use. I don’t think that works anymore now! 🙂


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