The New Normal: 50% Off

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If you’re paying more than half off the retail price, you’re paying too much. And if you’re paying actual retail? Well, then you’re spending waaaaaaaay too much.

More and more, retail markdowns of 20% or 25% just aren’t hefty enough to tempt consumers into buying. A SmartMoney post says that the half-off discount, once considered a rare “bargain-basement super deal,” is now fairly easy to come by, and it’s what shoppers could and should hold out for.

Essentially, 50% off sales are now a dime a dozen. Or should I say such deals are now a nickel a dozen?

Anyway, even with a 50% markdown, the goods at hand may not be worth the money—especially if you don’t need them (your closets are probably already full of similar stuff), and especially if you wind up buying even more, non-discounted stuff when you’re out scooping up bargains. This is a classic retailer scheme, of course, and SmartMoney explains how stores turn deep discounting into quick profits:

These deep and temporary markdowns are essentially loss-leaders, designed to lure shoppers into buying more items in one visit – or to generate more visits from shoppers wise to the strategy of rotating discounts.

There are ways to beat retailers at their own game, of course. Simply put, you win when you buy only what you want, and only at the price you want. The key is to shop with a sense of mission and determination, and a clear unemotional understanding of what’s worth the money, of actual value. If you’re easily distracted, and easily coaxed into picking up a few extra things while you’re out, then you’ll fall for the retailer strategies every time.

An Ask Coupon Sherpa post cites a survey revealing that, more and more, consumers are getting better at the game. Many won’t bite unless they see monster discounts:

The survey shows 87 percent of consumers won’t even consider a holiday purchase if it’s less than 20-percent off, while 25 percent of folks expect hearty discounts of 50 percent or more.

If 50% off is now fairly standard, what constitutes a genuine “bargain-basement super deal” nowadays? I suppose, in the same way that fashion people say ridiculous things like “brown is the new black,” thrifty shoppers may say that a 75% markdown is the new half-off.