Study Finds Sale Prices Often Aren't Deals

A recent investigation by a local consumer group revealed what they called questionable sales tactics.

Washington Consumers’ Checkbook tracked the prices of hundreds of items sold at 19 national retailers for 10 months and found many of the sale prices, even those advertised as big savings, were, according to Checkbook, bogus discounts. It found the same price advertised as a sale price more than half of the time.

“We found that the sale never ends,” said Kevin Brasler of Checkbook. “Week after week after week they're showing you a price that they say is a special price, but it's not a special price at all. It's the same price that they're charging over and over again.”

The biggest offenders, according to Checkbook:

  • J.C. Penney
  • Kmart
  • Kohl's
  • Macy's
  • Neiman Marcus
  • Sears

News4 reached out to those stores and heard back from all but two.

In a statement, J.C. Penney said it follows a pricing model used often in the retail industry and only puts items on sale that have been sold at the original price for a reasonable period of time.

Sears Holdings, which includes Kmart, said it "disagrees with any suggestion that its pricing is misleading or deceptive” and said it “complies with applicable pricing and advertising laws."

Macy's told News4, “Some items rarely go on sale prior to clearance; others, particularly seasonal fashion items, go on sale more frequently as part of promotional or clearance events."

So shop around to find out if the sale price is really a good deal. If you find a lower price online, ask for a price match.

And before rushing out the door to snag the deal because you think it's for a limited time, stop and do your homework to make sure you truly are getting a deal.

Checkbook said there were only two major retailers that held, what they consider, "legitimate sales" all the time: Bed Bath & Beyond and Costco.

Check out the full report here.

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