As 2020 winds down, retailers are hoping to lure holiday shoppers with sales and promotions. Many are also promising to adjust their prices should someone find a better deal elsewhere.
“We expect price adjustments are especially relevant and effective this year given that shoppers are even more price-conscious but still feel compelled to participate in gift giving,” says Jill Blanchard, executive vice president of client solutions at Advantage Sales, a company that provides sales, marketing and technology services.
Also known as price matching or low price guarantees, retailers use these adjustments to help close a sale. “It gives consumers some comfort that they don’t have to shop around,” says Lauren Beitelspacher, associate professor of marketing at Babson College.
To save money with price adjustments, you need to first know how they work and then which stores offer them. Keep reading for more details on both.
[Read: Best Discount Shopping Apps.]
Different Terms at Different Stores
Price adjustments refer to the practice of matching a lower price on an identical product, but there is variation in how stores do that. “It doesn’t always mean the same exact thing at every store,” says Casey Newmeyer, assistant professor of marketing at Case Western Reserve University.
“The policies vary by retailer,” Blanchard says, “(with) some price-matching competitors’ prices and some offering price adjustments off their own prices.”
For instance, some stores may lower a price to match a competitor’s sale but will only do so at the time of the purchase. Other stores will only adjust prices based on their own sales. That means if you purchase an item that goes on sale a week later at the same store, you can be refunded the difference in price.
How to Save Money With a Price Adjustment
Price adjustments are a nice perk, but don’t forget that they are still a marketing tool. “They’re doing it to be sure that they get your business,” Newmeyer says. Like other marketing promotions, there can be strings attached.
Retailers will typically only make price adjustments for sales of identical items. In some cases, the sale item must even be the same color. What’s more, stores may have a limited window in which you can request an adjustment, and only prices from certain sources may be honored.
“As a consumer, you expect all channels are equal,” says Sarah Engel, chief marketing officer for January Digital, a digital consultancy. However, that’s not necessarily true. Brick-and-mortar stores may not adjust prices for online sales or vice versa. That’s the case with Walmart, according to Engel. While local Walmart stores will match prices from Walmart.com, the retailer won’t let online shoppers match in-store prices.
10 Retailers Offering Price Adjustments
Most national retailers have some sort of price adjustment policy. However, even small, locally owned stores may be willing to price match if asked, and Beitelspacher encourages people to remember that small shops may be struggling this year and in need of sales. “Think about where (you) can make a difference in the community,” she says.
At the same time, keep in mind that smaller businesses have smaller profit margins which makes it hard for them to cover costs while matching the prices of large retailers. “You want your favorite (store) to stay in business,” Engel says.
For national brands, here are some of the major retailers offering price adjustments and price guarantees.
— Sam’s Club.
— Best Buy.
— Home Depot.
Walmart. Price adjustments at Walmart can be complex, Engel says. In-store shoppers can only price match identical items on Walmart.com and Jet.com, and prices are matched at the time of the sale. Walmart.com customers can price match from 28 different online retailers, including Amazon, Target.com and BestBuy.com. In both cases, there are a number of restrictions and limitations in place, so check the store’s written policies for details.
Target. Target’s Price Match Guarantee promises to match the price of any qualifying item selling for less at Target.com, certain online retailers or in a Target or local competitor’s print ads. Price adjustments must be requested within 14 days of the purchase, and there are a number of limitations and exclusions to the policy.
Costco. If you make a purchase at Costco or on Costco.com and the price drops within 30 days, the store will provide a refund of the difference. This only applies to Costco prices, and the retailer will not match competitor sales and promotions. Shoppers can complete an online price adjustment request form for Costco.com purchases. Those who purchased in-store should visit the membership counter for assistance.
Sam’s Club. When purchasing online, Sam’s Club members can request a price adjustment for items that go on promotion within eight days of purchase. Special event items and pricing are excluded. Online shoppers can also match the everyday prices of Walmart and Sam’s Club locations.
Best Buy. Price adjustments were instrumental in helping Best Buy combat “showrooming,” Beitelspacher says. That practice involved people spending time at Best Buy stores to gather information and view products, but then going to an online retailer — often Amazon — to buy the products. The retailer discouraged that by offering a Price Match Guarantee that will match prices of key online and local competitors. Upon request, Best Buy will also provide a price adjustment should the store lower a product’s in-store, online or app price at any time during the return and exchange period.
Ebay. Items sold as eBay Deals are eligible for the company’s Best Price Guarantee. It promises to refund 110% of the difference if you find a lower price at a competitor within 48 hours. Competitors are defined as eight online stores including Amazon, Walmart.com and Wayfair.com.
Kohl’s. If an item bought at Kohl’s goes on sale within 14 days of purchase, customers can request a price adjustment. They need their original, dated sales receipt, and the request must be made while the item is currently marked down. Some items and sales are excluded. Price adjustment requests for items purchased online can be made either online or in-store.
Home Depot. The Home Depot Low Price Guarantee applies to both online purchases and in-store pre-purchases. The retailer will match the price of any in-stock, identical item from another retailer. To price match an online item, the competitor must ship to the customer’s location. Some items, retailers and pricing are excluded from this offer.
Nordstrom. The Nordstrom pricing policy says the retailer may price match items from their website or from selected competitors at the time of purchase. If the price is lowered by either Nordstrom or a selected competitor within 14 days, the retailer will adjust the price as well. “It’s not super clear what competitors are included,” Engel says. Price adjustments can be requested online, in-person or over the phone.
Macy’s. Price adjustments are offered at Macy’s if the price is reduced within 10 days of purchase. If an item is purchased online, only those bought without a promo code are eligible for a price adjustment.
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