Georgia Southern University Professor Says Competition Among Retailers Is Good For Consumers During the Holidays
The retail industry is in an “ever-evolving state” according to Georgia Southern University Associate Professor of Marketing Kathleen Gruben, and that can only mean good things for a holiday shopper. This holiday season shoppers are benefiting in several ways from competition among retailers.
Smaller, brick-and-mortar retailers can’t often compete with the major department stores on the price tag, so they compensate with service. The benefits of shopping local and at smaller specialty stores, aside from the positive impact on the local economy, include better service, faster checkout and more knowledgeable associates.
Layaway is a good way to make payments on an item without worrying about interest, but there are plenty of downsides, too. You can’t take the item home until it’s paid off, and any money put towards the item can be lost if payments are stopped. Most stores mark mid-December as the deadline to pay off an item purchased with layaway.
“Most layaway systems are going to require that you make regular payments,” said Gruben. “A lot of times you determine the frequency of the payments, but you have to make those payments. A lot of retailers will work with you on payments as long as you contact them, but they have an ending date. They want time to be able to re-sell the merchandise if payments aren’t made.”
- A new way to price-match.
Many department stores offer price matching when a competitor offers the same product at a lower price, and a new trend is to offer consumers a gift card containing the difference in price.
“It really helps their image,” Gruben said about stores that match prices with gift cards, “but does it really help the consumer? If they redeem it in the store, no problem, but sometimes cards get set aside and forgotten about.”
A reward for patience.
Believe it or not, the best time to shop for deals is December 26.
“A lot of people don’t realize that retailers call the week after Christmas, ‘The 13th Month.’ They do so much volume that they do a month’s worth of business in a week,” said Gruben. “People think of the day after Christmas as, ‘National Return Day,’ but what do people do when they return items? They get money, they spend it, and they spend more to get what they want. Plus, all those gift cards and checks that were exchanged are put to use because prices are marked down so much deeper during post-holiday sales.”