Black Friday and Cyber Monday may have come and gone, but most people are nowhere near finished with their holiday shopping lists. In fact, 76 percent of adult shoppers said they planned to make holiday purchases right up to Christmas Eve, according to a 2016 survey from the International Council of Shopping Centers. And Adobe initially predicted online spending for the holiday season (November 1 to December 31) to reach a total of $107.4 billion. The good news: If you’ve got more gifts to check off your shopping list, the deals aren’t over. The key may be simply asking for them — in other words, negotiating. Here’s how to nail down extra discounts on in-store soft goods (like clothes), technology and even cars.
If you’re set on asking for discounts in person, you’ll likely have more luck with independent retailers. Employees of big-name stores don’t often have the authority to lower the price of an item, although their managers sometimes do. If you’re buying multiples of a product, or if you’re a frequenter of the store — even if it is a big retailer — it never hurts to ask. Try questions like: “Could you do any better?” or “How could we arrive at a better price for this?” Sometimes, that’s all it takes for the salesperson to remember that, for example, signing up for the email newsletter nets you a 10 percent discount. And if you’re turned down the first time? You can always kindly ask to speak with a manager. Sometimes it’s just a matter of who’s authorized to do what.
Haggling can pay off — especially when it comes to electronics, according to an annual electronics retailer survey by Consumer Reports. Shoppers who purchased something in one of the stores they rated only tried to negotiate 14 percent of the time, but when they did, 59 percent got a price reduction for an average $84 in savings. Online negotiators had even better luck, with a 69 percent success rate and an average $94 in savings. If you’d like to try bargaining online, try calling the retailer or using the live chat built into some store websites. If you’re shopping in person and there’s no discount available, try asking for added benefits like free installation, shipping or accessories.
If you’re in the market for a car, December is a “perfect storm,” according to data from Edmunds.com. You’re likely in for an even better deal if you move your purchase to the very end of the month, since car dealers and manufacturers want to close out their year with strong sales numbers. Before you head to the lot, arm yourself with information. Know the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) and check the manufacturer’s, dealer’s and enthusiast magazine’s websites to compare offer prices. It’s a good idea to look for a car that’s the outgoing model year and has generous incentives. According to Edmunds data, December has both the year's highest discount off MSRP (6.1 percent on average) and the highest incentives. (It also tends to have the highest inventory, which gives dealers more reason to, well, make deals.) You can find a list of incentives (like 1 percent financing) and rebates from both dealers and manufacturers at Edmunds.com. When closing the deal, stand your ground with the salesperson, and keep asking about added fees. Ask them to tell you the end price of the car with all costs taken into account. Then, negotiate based on that. If you’re planning to lease, negotiate the price first, then back into the lease payment.
Have you ever been in a store, pulled up a competitor’s price for the same item and asked the retailer to match it? It often works, especially if the competing price is at a brick-and-mortar store — or if the store you bought from reduced the item’s price within two weeks of your purchase. Certain credit cards — like Citi Simplicity, Chase Sapphire Preferred, Discover It card and Capital One Quicksilver Rewards — will refund you the difference if an item’s price drops after you buy it. The details (and time limits) should be in your card member agreement. There’s also — as always — “an app for that.” Paribus links to your email account and tracks recent purchases, then requests price adjustments on your behalf and credits your original form of payment with the entire difference in price. (Note: It only works for online purchases, and you have to let it scan your email.) If you’d prefer to do your own research and price-match, we’ve outlined specific store policies below.
- Walmart: If you find a lower price from select online retailers on an identical, in-stock product, they’ll match it (except in Alaska and Hawaii).
- Target: The store will match lower prices from select online retailers on an identical product. Just bring in proof within 14 days of purchase.
- Best Buy: If you find a lower price from select retailers (in-store or online) on the same product, they’ll match it. They’ll also match their own lower price for an item you bought. For most items, you’ll need to bring in proof within 15 days.
- Home Depot: The store will match lower prices from select online retailers on a identical, in-stock products — plus the cost of shipping. For competing in-store prices, they’ll match them and beat them by 10 percent. Just bring in proof within seven days of purchase.
- Toys “R” Us: If you find a lower price from select retailers on an identical product you bought in-store, they’ll match it and donate an additional $1 to Toys for Tots through December 24 (up to $1 million). Bring in proof within 14 days of buying.
- Kohl’s: They’ll match lower prices for an identical item at select brick-and-mortar retailers if you bring in proof within 10 days.
- JCPenney: If you find a lower current advertised price from select retailers on an identical product within 14 days of purchase, they’ll match it and beat it by 5 percent (except for major appliances and TVs).
- Limitations apply to all. Take a look at the official policies for Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Home Depot, Toys “R” Us, Kohl’s and JCPenney.
With Hayden Field
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