How to Play the Retail Game and Get the Biggest Bang for Your Buck

No one wants to pay full price if there are discounts to be had. But with every retailer having their own trick and the sale calendar changing faster than the seasons, how can you keep up? Lucky for you, we’ve got the 411 on how to save on all your purchases at your favorite retailers. Here’s how to play the retail game and get the biggest bang for your buck.

Ask for a discount at Home Goods

If you find an item at Home Goods, and it’s just slightly damaged, ask for a discount at the register. A barely noticeable scratch can get you a 10% discount off the retail price, and more heavily damaged items can be slashed by up to 28%. You can even ask for a price cut on clearance items that are starting to look like they’ve been living in the store just a bit too long. The managers want to free up floor space and will likely be happy to lower the price a bit on an item that’s been a difficult sell.

Get TJMaxx’s biggest selection of markdowns on Wednesday mornings

If you’re a TJMaxx fan, you’ll want to shop on Wednesday mornings. The biggest markdowns happen Tuesday night after closing, and you’ll have the best pickings first thing on Wednesdays. 

The popular discount retailer also hosts two annual sales; one in July and the other in January. These months mark the shift to the upcoming new season, and all yellow-tagged items you’ll find in the store during July and January are items that are discounted as the current season ends. 

Learn the Target sale schedule

One of the best Target hacks is to take advantage of weekly markdowns on specific product categories. Here’s the general Target markdown schedule: 

  • Monday: Electronics, kids’ clothing, books, baby supplies and accessories
  • Tuesday: Pet supplies, food and women’s clothing
  • Wednesday: Health and beauty products, men’s clothing, furniture and lawn and garden 
  • Thursday: Shoes, toys, home decor, sporting goods, luggage, sleepwear and housewares
  • Friday: Cosmetics, jewelry, auto products and hardware
Leverage Walmart’s price-match guarantee

Make sure you always pay the lowest price at Walmart by leveraging their price-match guarantee. 

For in-store purchases, Walmart will match all base prices for identical items found in a physical Walmart store. You’ll need to inform a Walmart associate about the price-match and the product must be in stock on the website and identical to the in-store product. 

The price-match policy for online purchases is a bit different. If you find a cheaper price on an identical, in-stock product from an online retailer, Walmart will match the price. Here, too, the product you are purchasing must be identical to the lower cost product you’re asking to match in price, including the sizing, model, brand and color. In addition, there is no price-matching on items advertised as sales, marked as clearance, damaged or refurbished, price errors or discounts applied at checkout. 

Shop Sunday, Monday, and Thursday for the best Old Navy deals

It’s always a great day for shopping at Old Navy, but some days are better than others. 

Shop Sunday and Monday for markdowns that roll out every Sunday. Due to a variety of factors, some of these discounts may not be applied until Monday, but waiting that extra day can mean missing out on some fabulous deals. Make your choice and hit the store on either day for guaranteed savings. 

Thursday is “Signage Day” at Old Navy. This means the associates will be changing up the signs and sales as they prepare for the upcoming weekend’s sales. Temporary price cuts will start taking effect on this day. 

It’s also a good idea to learn the retail calendar of Old Navy so you can shop the seasons and save more. Here are the best times to shop for each season at Old Navy:

  • Spring: Apr. 15 – June 1
  • Summer: July 15 – Sept. 1
  • Fall: Oct. 15 – Dec. 1
  • Winter: Jan. 15 – Mar. 1
Shop IKEA’s As-Is section on Mondays

If you love IKEA’s well-priced furniture, you need to know this hack. 

Shop IKEA on Mondays, and enter the store through the exit, instead of the main entrance. This will take you directly to the As-Is section. Here, you’ll find all the returned, damaged and previously displayed items, which are marked as much as 50% off original prices. Like most stores, IKEA gets its biggest influx of shoppers over the weekend, making this section the most expansive on Monday mornings. Start your week off right with some bargain-priced treasures from IKEA.

Shop H&M’s nine seasons

Yes, H&M has nine seasons. To make things simple, the seasons are numbered 1-9. To find out what season the retailer is currently up to, check out the barcode on an item’s price tag. The season is the seventh number in the first line of numbers under the bar code. This number stands alone, apart from the other strings of numbers, making it easy to find. If you see a 2 here, you’ll know this item is from Season 2 at H&M. Check out some other items to see what the store is selling now. If most items are from Season 3, the odds are good that the Season 2 item will be discounted soon. 

Every retailer has its own shtick, but you can learn them to save big. Use this guide to learn how to play the retail game and get the biggest bang for your buck. 


Learn More
7 Secrets to Steal from a HomeGoods Super Shopper - Apartment Therapy
15 Target Shopping Tips & Tricks to Save Money (Online & In-Store) - MoneyCrashers
19 Money-Saving Secrets Target Doesn’t Want You To Know - GO Banking Rates
How to Save Money Now (Before You Really Need It) - NerdWallet
15 Brilliant H&M Shopping Tips You Need to Know - The Krazy Coupon Lady
Price Match Policy - Walmart