Stores in the national and regional shopping malls often have a bad reputation for not being the best places to find bargains, but that is really a misconception. Mall stores are generally highly competitive with prices and promotions -- and just like the big-box discount stores like Walmart and Target, mall stores also strive to quickly turn around the merchandise to make room for newer styles. That means if an item is not generating customers' interest quickly enough, it will likely be marked down to help motivate sales.
End-of-season sales and reductions can also offer mall shoppers substantial savings. It is not unusual to find first-quality merchandise that is only one season old at up to 75 percent off the retail prices on the final clearance racks.
Shoppers can often score additional savings by using mall coupons, rewards points, national credit card offers and special "friends and family" discounts. Many times, the stores and department stores will include additional savings off sale merchandise. Here are more ways to maximize your savings when shopping at the malls.
2) Check the mall websites for information on stores' promotions and to print the stores' coupons.
3) Sign up for mall loyalty programs and receive special discounts and rewards for your purchases. You may even be invited to shop during special times using exclusive coupons.
4) Check the Sunday newspaper for coupons for department stores. The newspaper is still one of the main advertising mediums that the department stores use to distribute coupons.
5) Sign up on the mailing lists at your favorite stores or go online to their websites and sign up. Receive special in-store coupons and exclusive members-only offers directly to your email box.
6) Get to know the store associates and ask them to call you when an item that you are interested in gets marked down. Some store associates will even hold the item for you if you ask.
7) Keep the stores' coupons and bounce-back offers in your car. That way, any time that you decide to stop at the mall, you will be coupon-ready.
8) Track prices at your favorite stores. Many stores have specific days when they do markdowns. Ask a sales associate which days they usually do markdowns and shop that afternoon or evening. If you go too early, the markdowns may not be completed.
9) Look for slightly damaged merchandise that is fixable and ask for a price reduction. Most store management is allowed to reduce prices up to a certain limit on damaged goods.
10) Take advantage of special group discounts if applicable, like senior discount days, student discounts and military discounts. Check on the mall's website for the participating stores.
11) Check your credit card promotions. Many of the major credit card companies offer cross-promotions with mall stores and quite often, the offer can be used along with whatever store discounts or coupons are available.
12) Staying in a hotel? Check the in-room magazines for local mall coupons and ask at the desk when checking in if hotel guests get discounts. You can also check for special packages that include mall discounts when you make your reservations.
13) Before you pay, ask the store associate if there are any coupons that can be applied to your purchase. Also, make sure to get any bounce-back coupons that are being distributed.
14) Many mall stores have price protection policies that if the price drops within a certain time period, you will be refunded the difference. Take time to follow up on your purchases before the allotted time expires. You can easily save a fast 30 percent off your purchases this way.