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We are just a few days away from the “official” beginning of summer and that is despite the fact that the pools are already open, the beaches are ready, and the temperatures in many places have already hit 90 degrees and higher! But trips to the beach, backyard barbecues, and those lazy vacation days ahead aren’t the only hallmarks of summer. There’s the great shopping and summer retail sales to look forward to, and consumers this year can add even bigger bargains to their lists.
No surprises here, but guess what? Thanks to the 41-year high in inflation, there are even more reasons right now to shop and save. Summer retail sales 2022, here we come!
Big Inventory Means Big Markdowns
If you have been paying just a little attention lately, you may have heard that many of the largest retailers have big inventory problems right now. No, it’s not just that they aren’t getting the inventory they need because of supply chain issues, although that is a huge problem in some important categories. It’s also a reverse problem.
Many consumer shopping habits have changed over the past couple of years and what they once bought then, pre-pandemic, is different now. Stores like Walmart, the nation’s largest retailer, and Target have already begun cutting prices, an act that traditionally begins for summer merchandise after July 4th!
“It’s really a shift in what’s at the top of the shopping list for the consumer,” said Target CFO Michael Fiddelke. Fiddelke added, “And so in some categories, it’s certainly a slowdown versus what we expected.”
One factor is that clothing purchases have changed as more and more people work from home. Their wardrobe purchases have changed and become even more casual. This has affected inventories around the retail world.
The “Why Now?” and Should You Care?
When money gets tight, like it is now during a high inflation period, it is even more important than ever to be a good money manager.
Summer retail sales are a great way to take advantage of the “markdowns” that retailers will be taking and to get some of things you really need at a great discount. That’s a big reason why managing your money efficiently when savings opportunities arise is so important.
Look, it’s not a new concept to try to save and be a good shopper. Taking advantage of clearances is a tradition for me and I assume for you. But during tight money times, it’s not just a good idea, it may be a matter of survival too. That’s important right now.
Where and When to Look for Bargains
Target is one retailer that is taking action. It’s battening down the hatches on its business as its shoppers have become more cautious in their spending due to spiraling inflation for food, gas, and shelter.
The discount retailer is now aiming to cut inventory by offering huge and earlier summer discounts, canceling orders, and taking a harder look at expenses. Target entered the second quarter with inventory up 43% from last year which the company conceded several weeks ago when it reported first quarter inventory was too high relative to consumer demand.
Walmart is next on the “markdown list” and will be forced to follow Target’s suit and liquidate inventory more aggressively for summer at the expense of their profit margins. Walmart says its inventory is up 30% from the prior year, which it acknowledges is too high.
The warnings from Target and Walmart will also lead to further cuts by other retailers as the industry discounting picks up this month. As inflation remains high, consumers are looking for sales and bargains more than ever and the entire retail sector will be under even more pressure.
For new season merchandise like “summer” fashion, it means that what is happening now is that we are in the early stages of a sharp consumer spending pullback that retailers weren’t expecting to happen. Inflation and consumer doubts and re-assessments of their finances will do that.
As a former employee myself of Macy’s, I have learned this: You should never pay full price at Macy’s for anything and that couldn’t be truer than this summer! Knowing when to shop is just one of the many ways to save there. To save serious cash at Macy’s, check their deals out before you set out to the store or begin shopping online for extra promo codes and coupons. You’ll save even more than just the posted prices.
I did this myself just recently. My wife and I were interested in a particular comforter and sheet set for our king bed, shown with a list price of $260. With a promo code, we were able to buy the set for just $130. But wait, there’s more. A week later, we noticed the price had gone down to $77 and we got a price adjustment for the difference!
This season may be the best ever time for Macy’s Clearances. Normally, the “End-of-Season Clearance Sales” are the best sales on items. Macy’s usually marks down their in-season inventory sooner than competitors like J.C. Penney and Nordstrom anyway and this year they are out ahead of the pack again!
Be a Smarter Shopper and You’ll Always Save!
I have been touting “generics” for years as a way to save money, but as we all know we are so bombarded with brand name advertising that we don’t think of an item as a “tissue” but as a Kleenex, or a “soda” as a Coke instead. But if you can break away from that, you can save!
On basics like some important summer items, going generic applies and can save you right now, too. Families can go through a lot of sunscreen in a summer, and regardless of inflation, it can be pricey. Save when you choose a generic brand.
It doesn’t have to be a name brand for every product. Usually, store brands are about 30% cheaper whether it’s sunscreen, tanning lotion, or even bathing suits and swimwear.
You can even get sunscreen from a discount or dollar store. If the sunscreen’s expiration date is still good, you will get the same protection whether you are spending $1 or $15.
What Else Can You Do to Save This Summer?
Can you save with bulk purchases? Yes, if you use a lot of something like sunscreen or beach towels throughout the summer, buying in bulk is another way to cut down on the cost. This strategy only works if you are going to actually use the items.
I sometimes get shocked when I find last year’s sunblock in my beach bag with half of its contents in there and the date expired. That’s a waste of my money and I am guilty of it from time to time, we all are. But if you will use the items, if your family is big enough and you live in a place that gets high UV ray numbers, it may be a deal for you if you bulk up!
The last thing you want to do is stock up on something and then be forced to throw it out because it’s past the expiration date.*
*This applies of course to even your food shopping and not just in summer, but all year round. Produce that isn’t used and then tossed due to expiration is wasting millions of dollars every year! Keep that in mind when you shop.
A Good Sale Anywhere Can Warrant “Bulking Up”
You can also save on sunscreen, bathing suits, and other summer gear at your local wholesale club store. I do it regularly at Walgreens (Buy one, get one 50% off on sun care items + save an extra 15% when you spend $25 with code SUMMER15 + Same day delivery or pickup!), Rite-Aid, and CVS (Buy one, get one 50% off+ $5 ExtraBucks Rewards when you buy two select Coppertone sun care products) and not just for drugs and health and beauty products. They often have great deals at their summer retail sales that make me bulk buy.
But my advice is not to join a club unless your family size (and storage space) warrants it. Individuals and small families tend to overbuy and waste money.
The big box stores like Target and Walmart are also getting very good at offering cool, stylish, well-made products at discounts that they can offer at bulk pricing too and no fee is required, of course.
This summer will be a time when business is rethinking its strategies about post-pandemic life and you should too. In their case, inventory control and lifestyle changes we have just seen may truly become a new normal and that means it was you that changed it.
It’s always a good time for a bargain, but these summer retail sales may be some of the very best ones, if and when you need them.
Do you have a summer shopping need and a plan that makes sense? What’s your list look like and where will you shop this summer?