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It’s June. What’s worth buying and what’s not?

2 Jun

Should I buy a new grill now or wait a month? (BTW–I saw a great one for grilling pizzas at Crate & Barrel.)

How about computers?  Are stores clearing them out to make way for new models to sell for the  new school year?

And is this the month to visit Disneyworld?

Check out The Best and Worst Things to Buy in June here at

(And if you’re a total junkie for retail news, check out Retail-Insider’s new daily news feed of all of the retail news from Canada.)




The inside scoop on shopping rewards programs

21 Mar

In a recent article in the Montreal Gazette, reporter Susan Semenak provides an insight into the operations of shopper loyalty programs, especially the relatively new ones at Metro and Loblaw’s supermarkets, including the extensive information collected on our shopping habits and how they use it with us.  

Raises some of the concerns about privacy, which were discussed on 60 Minutes March 9, but without discussing the privacy implications.

View the article at

Busting Holiday Shopping Myths

10 Dec

Should you give gifts on New Year’s Day because you’re expecting the best deals at a Boxing Day (Canada, Australia, Hong Kong, New Zealand, UK) or after-Christmas (US) sale?

Should I assume all stores allow returns soa recipient of my gift can exchange it? Or is the ingrate stuck with the gift for life?

And is that door crasher really worth it?

Robert Soroka answers these questions and more in his article Exploding a Few Holiday Shopping Myths in the Montreal Gazette.

To read the entire article, visit Visited December 9, 2012.


Bargains at the Mall

5 Nov

Here are some tips for getting the best bargains:

At specialty stores Most national and international specialty stores mark down slow-moving or close-out merchandise once a month, and move it to the sale rack. That rack is usually out of eyesight when you enter the store. To find it, go to the back of the store and look either up or down (but not at eye level) for the word “sale.” Or ask the sales representative.
At department stores Check out the store-brand merchandise. In most cases, it’s manufactured by the same companies making clothes for designers and others. And it’s always sold at an attractive price, and often at better prices than that.(My favorite line in the Macy’s catalog refers to the regular prices for store-brand items, nothing that these prices might not have resulted in actual sales. Also note that I haven’t seen that line in a while.)
More than buying on sale Also:

  • Buy with an “extra savings coupon” (one is included in most of the Macy’s, Sear’s, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Kohl’s circulars, though JC Penney recently dropped this practice).
  • Look for end-of-season sales (you can tell these by sales prices that are handwritten in ink or stamped over the originally marked prices).
  • For those who insist on designers, sales are harder to come by. Most designer duds are exempted from the coupons issued with sales circulars. Instead, most designers have quarterly or semi-annual sales (for example, Calvin Klein has semi-annual sales on underwear in March and September). End-of-season sales also offer bargain opportunities (because even designer goods go on sale, and often are eligible for additional savings from coupons).

Navigating through Malls

4 Oct

Although the homogeneity of most regional malls takes most of the spontaneity out of shopping (regional malls are those large enclosed malls with a couple of department stores on the ends that are connected by one or two hundred of the same stores seen in every mall), they add a comforting predictability — like the predictability that, no matter where you are in the world, you can say “McChicken, fries and Coke” and receive some familiar food, even when you don’t know the local language.

Here are some predictable components:

Department stores “Anchor” the mall and are therefore placed at the ends. The selection of department stores is likely to include a Sears or a Penney’s (if you can’t find a Sears or Penney’s, the mall probably focuses on one extreme of income or another, like Atlanta’s Lenox Square – Phipps’ Plaza complex, which caters towards the highest of high end customers).

Some malls no longer have anchors and either converted the space to something else (typical in Canadian malls) or left the space vacant (which is just downright creepy).

Food court Is usually located in a corner on the upper level, in a location where you’re forced to walk by every other store in the mall. The menu is likely to include (at a minimum) McDonald’s, Burger King or Wendy’s, Sbarro (or some other Italian food vendor), an ice cream or yogurt shop, an Asian food place (Chinese or Japanese) and a coffee place (more likely to be Coffee Beanery or Gloria Jean’s than Starbuck’s). If there’s a direct entrance to the parking lot, the entrance is at the point that’s least accessible to any of the main roads nearby.
Full-service restaurants (Almost always a chain, such as Cheesecake Factory and P. F. Chang’s, one of the more popular mall restaurants (same owner—even though operated separately), as well as local chains that aspire to national recognition like Legal Seafoods) are usually located near the mall entrance that’s most visible from, and accessible to, the main roads nearby.
Rest rooms Can be found in the following places: a dark, dingy corridor near the food court. They’re also available in the back of the outerwear departments and credit offices (or what used to be the credit offices) in department stores, in the back of full-service restaurants, and unavailable in all specialty stores (though most big box retailers provide them).
Most-likely-to-be-there specialty stores Include the Gap (though less so since their financial troubles began in 2005), the Limited, Structure, Aldo, and Claire’s. Otherwise, you can tell whom the mall wants to attract by the stores that locate there:

  • Malls that cater to upper-income households almost always include the following line-up of home stores: Williams-Sonoma and Pottery Barn to attract middle to upper-middle income customers; Crate & Barrel and Restoration Hardware to attract upper-middle and high-end customers. Clothing stores likely include Banana Republic, J Crew, and Pea in the Pod, designer emporia like Kenneth Cole, Ralph Lauren, and Armani Exchange, department stores like Bloomingdale’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Nieman Marcos, and specialty stores like Papyrus (cards) and Brookstone.
  • Malls that cater to households with more modest incomes usually include clothing stores like TJ Maxx, Marshall’s and Burlington Coat Factory (who occasionally locate stores in regional malls), as well as Hit or Miss and Wilson’s Leather. Specialty stores likely include a Hallmark Shop and Things Remembered.