Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Retail gimmicks?

Last weekend was the annual "Sales Tax Holiday" here in North Carolina. Not on everything you understand, but on "back to school" supplies and clothes. This does, however, include all clothes and footwear and on computers and peripherals up to the value of $3,500.

Here, unlike England, where there is no equivalent tax (V.A.T.) on children's clothes, sales tax is charged at the standard rate (currently 7.75%). So fitting your kids out for school can be made easier if you are prepared to shop during this three-day "holiday".

We make a point of shopping for clothes (no, you don't have to be of school age) during this time. In fact, as long as we make a list of "needs" rather than "wants", and of course stick to it, we do save.

The "gimmicks"? Retailers use every trick in the book to help ease those bills out of our wallets. I can never remember paying the "ticket price" for any clothes or shoes since we moved here. Trick number one then - print an artificially high price on the ticket.

We tend to shop for clothes at a local outlet mall, so there are the displays saying - 50% off, but wait, by their sides are other displays saying take an extra 10 or 15% off. This is where it starts to get complicated.

We choose our purchases, take them to the register and produced our 10% off coupon received through the mail. Exciting this! We then show our "Rewards" card - off comes another 10%! "Are you a AAA member sir?", asks the associate. I produce my AAA membership card. "Well, as you purchase is over $50, you are entitles to 10% discount".

Finally, there is the fact that there is no added sales tax.

"Good grief", I feel like saying (but don't), "How much do you OWE ME?"

Sales tax holiday or not, why cannot retailers be up front with their prices? My point is, I really don't know if I'm saving money or not, do I? But there, that's all part of the "kidology", like making every price end in .99.

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