Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes
(NBC News) – Are you still paying full retail price for the things you buy at the store?
You don't have to...if you know the secret sales code that can save you money.
NBC New's Liz Crenshaw has some important shopping information you'd probably like to know.
Does it ever seem that no one pays full price anymore...except you? What if we tell you there is a secret sales code at many retailers... and learning about it can save you some real money. Paula Rosenblum is the retail research director at AMR Research and an expert on cracking the sales code.
PAULA ROSENBLUM / RETAIL EXPERT: "Broad brush, the shopper should know that the retailer needs to sell the product because there's more coming in. So sooner or later he's got to get it out of his door."
"Which means if I'm smart, I can get a better price."
Rosenblum says getting the best price is merely a matter of knowing which day of the week, or which day of the month, merchandise will go on discount.
Crenshaw: "What do we need to know about shopping at department stores."
Rosenblum: "In department stores you should be fearless about waiting until the end of the month. Department store retailers bring in all their products at the beginning of the month, and over the course of the month they start getting more and more nervous if it hasn't sold.
Crenshaw: "You want me to shop on the 30 or 31st? "
Rosenblum: "The Friday or Saturday before the end of the month."
Crenshaw: "The Friday and Saturday before the end of the month?"
Rosenblum: "Yes." Rosenblum says the sales code is different for specialty stores such as the Gap or the Limited. She says specialty retailers come in Monday mornings, look at what sold the previous week, and then make decisions on what to mark down.
Crenshaw: "So what day of the week on the specialty stores?"
Rosenblum: "Wednesday or Thursday. "
Crenshaw: "I'm going to see my markdown?"
Rosenblum: "You're going to see your markdown."
But Rosenblum says the retail rules change when it comes to CD's and DVD's.
With these, you have to buy them as soon as they come out.
Rosenblum: "It's the one category where they bring it out at a lower price and then raise it over time.
"They're trying to..."
Rosenblum: "Build demand. Build that billboard chart."
On the other hand, the sales code for video games works quite logically.
Rosenblum: "Video games, that's the only item left that really works the way you think it should. When it's hot it's hot and you have to pay full price. And then over time it declines, I think about 25% every two or three months."
As for furniture, Rosenblum says buy it in January-February or in August-September. That's when the stores are making room for their new lines, unless you can find a warehouse sale.
Rosenblum: "If it's a real warehouse sale you're really going to get a deal. Because it's all about raising cash. It's not about making money."
A couple more ideas: buy wedding gifts such as crystal, china, and silver from mid-May through June and from mid-September through October. That's when the big promotions occur.
And if you want to buy electronics the deepest discounts come in March and April, although many stores now sell digital cameras as loss leaders just to get you in the store.
Rosenblum says new computer programs will make retailers more sophisticated when it comes to pricing and sales, so it may be easier to grab bargains this year than next. But she says there's one item you can always grab at bargain prices after the holidays.
Rosenblum: "And of course, for decorations the week after is always the best."
By the way, if you like to shop full-price high-end stores, you should ask for a deal.
Sometimes those stores will wait to charge your credit card until an item goes on sale.