Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Can retailers still outfox savvy shoppers?

Ever since people began bartering, there has been a constant struggle between buyer and seller to get the largest possible share of the value-cost margin.  Shoppers now have access to a cornucopia of pricing information on the web.  If stores do not offer reasonable deals, they lose business to Amazon and the like. 

Today's NYT reports how some major retail chains, including JCP (the store previously known as Penney's), have revised their pricing strategies.  The story contains some juicy tidbits on pricing:
An item that cost Penney’s $10 in 2002 was typically marked up to $28. By 2011, a $10 item had been marked up to $40. But the price the customer actually paid for the $10 item increased only 5 cents during that period — to $15.95, from $15.90.
... the average markup for apparel at a department store began around 65 percent. Over 10 weeks, the stores will go to 25 or 30 percent off, then 50 percent off, 60 percent, and finally 70 percent or more, a discount so deep that the stores sometimes sell below cost.
The game for consumers is to tradeoff availability with savings.  The latest, most popular styles may sell out but patience is rewarded with bigger discounts, a form of what we economists call third degree price discrimination.  JCP claims it has cut its retail prices by 40 percent in a move toward what it calls "fair and square" pricing.  Consumer reaction?  Lukewarm at best so far, the article indicates.  One shopper posted “I really, really miss my coupons" on JCP's Facebook page. 

No comments:

Post a Comment