“Everything on sale”: Reality or illusion?

When state regulators get in the way of retailers’ promotional calendars — to attempt the establishment of “real” regular prices — it provokes a lot of commentary. Here’s an example from a recent RetailWire discussion. My point is that promotional department stores’ prices are more carefully monitored than the average shopper might think:

The barrage of promotional events, often with weeklong sales overlapped by one-day sales and so forth, has created the impression that “everything is always for sale” in many promotional department stores, and it’s a powerful marketing tool. But I’m guessing that a study of the actual number of days items are on or off sale might paint a different picture.

Most of the stores mentioned in the story have to deal with the reality of various states’ regulations, especially when they operate coast-to-coast. So there is probably a science applied to the establishment of regular prices, followed by a strict calendar of “on sale” and “off sale” days.

As a hypothetical, just because Macy’s puts a private-label polo shirt into every one of its “one day sales” doesn’t mean that the goods are on sale 365 days a year. And just because they do sell goods at “regular price” some of the time, doesn’t mean they can compel customers to pay full price for them.

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