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  • Writer's picturePamela Tucker

Shopping for a basic household product, such as paper towels, for me has changed when compared with just a month ago. While shopping in a local store such as Duane Reade or CVS, I would pick up the package of paper towels and continue shopping. I had been aware of the fact some retailers are charging different prices for the same item, and until recently this pricing strategy did not bother me.


A retailer may sell the same item for different prices

A retailer may sell the same product via different distribution channels and the price could vary. The different prices depends on how the item will get to your home. These are typically the different options buyers have for a range of product lines:

  • Pick out in store and take it home yourself.

  • Buy online and pick up in store (BOPIS).

  • Purchase online for delivery with the retailer shipping it.

  • Purchase online for delivery through a third party, such as Instacart and Uber Eats. (Note: Shoppers should also consider if there are additional fees, such as a monthly fee for an Instacart+ membership of $9.99 and /or if there are fees for each delivery.)


Third party delivery services typically lead to the item costing more; but not always

I appreciate that shoppers are willing to pay for convenience and will not be budget minded when using a third party shopping service. But, there are notable price differences. For instance, Fairway sells Fage yogurt in the store and it is available through shopping Fairway via Instacart.


The other day there were different prices for the same Fage yogurt. When I was in the store I saw it was $2.69 and when I looked that day on Instacart, shown below, it was $3.55, about 25% more. I recalled other prices of a few other items in the store and compared them with Instacart and Instacart showed higher prices for all of them.

Paper towel purchases

Getting back to the paper towels --- Last week while browsing through an email from Walgreens (The name of the store brand in New York City is Duane Reade) I saw Bounty paper towels in the list. It showed the BOPIS price is $5.49 and the in-store price is $9.49. Calculating that is a 42% price difference and living two blocks from Duane Reade, I immediately decided I could not pass this up.


I ordered a few Bounty packages online; the order was ready within a short time and I picked it up. The wait though was longer than it should be. But that is the case with Duane Reade. Unlike Target, there is not a separate line for pick-up and with typically one cashier, sometimes two, it is a long wait to pick up the internet orders as well as to pay for in store purchases.

A few days later I decided this $5.49 price was a super bargain and ordered more. While in Duane Reade to pick it up, I first went to the paper goods aisle and was surprised with what I saw. As shown below, the shelf price was $9.99, higher than the in-store price listed, $9.49 in the email. That was a 45% difference.


On the one hand I was glad I took advantage of the BOPIS bargain. Yet, on the other hand I was annoyed about this big difference and wondered if there were other items with such a large price gap. But determining that information would be time consuming and decided not to proceed with the idea.


Rather than spending time looking for other Duane Reade deals where the prices are much lower with BOPIS, I decided going forward I will try my best to stop impulse shopping there and at other stores while picking up my orders. When I have time I could look online for possibly better BOPIS pricing.


Buying online and picking up in store for certain products could continue to be a good shopping choice for me. It is a nice option because the purchases are picked up at stores that are a few minutes walk (thus no transportation costs) and the stores have convenient operating hours.


Financial results, comprehensive studies and thoughtful strategy contribute to retailers implementing BOPIS, and in many cases this results in the retailer charging different prices for the same item. As a shopper I'm puzzled and bothered. My over arching question regarding this strategy: Isn't a person who visits a store considered to be a stronger candidate to be an impulse shopper when compared with one who is stopping in just to pick up an online order? Given I know there could be such a range in prices, in this Bounty paper towels example, over 40% difference, I am going to stop impulse shopping and spend time on researching prices on household and other staples that I buy. What about you?


Updated: May 8

Last week's visit to Woodbury Common Premium Outlets was an enjoyable and enlightening shopping experience. Owned by Simon Property Group and situated about an hour north of New York City, I had not been there for more than a decade.

According to a Simon press release published on April 24, 2024 mentioning new stores added to the Woodbury Common lineup in 2024 including David Yurman, Maison Margiela, Sferra and Ladurée, it noted Woodbury Common"is one of the world's most successful outlet centers and features the largest collection of luxury outlets in North America." Woodbury Common, per the press release, has more than 250 stores, generates annual sales over $1.2 billion and draws over 10 million shoppers annually. Impressive statistics and in a league of its own!


The long gap in time since I've been there is attributable to my persistent beliefs that outlet stores sell:

(1) Inventory from previous seasons

(2) Imperfect items

(3) Goods made specifically for these outlet stores which could be fabricated of lower quality materials


I prefer buying top quality fashion bought during pre-season or early in the season. Assuming I'll miss out on a these pieces if I don't buy as soon as I see what I like, I generally don't wait for sales. Paying full price is not always a great feeling! The combination of wanting see the inventory and experience outlet shopping, I took the bus from NYC Port Authority to Woodbury Common.


Knowing it would be impossible to visit each store and see the range of brands focusing on one or more of these product lines-- clothes, handbags shoes, jewelry and cosmetics, I picked a handful of stores to visit and to check against my long held beliefs. If I found things I liked, the trip would be even more successful! My day of exploring and shopping was relaxing and pleasant. Key takeaways are below.


Friendly and Helpful Sales Professionals

I interacted with at least one person in each store visited. A sales associate greeted me in each store I entered, and noticed others were greeted as well. The sales associates gave me space while I browsed. After some time I was asked if I'd like help, had any questions or needed a size.


When I had a question the sales associates responses were courteous and genuine. This experience was surprisingly outstanding! When compared with (full price) stores I shop in New York City, it was overall better in Woodbury (As a side note, when I shop in one particular brand's department in a certain department store in New York City I'm followed closely and feel under pressure and investigation! In another department store in New York City I have to circle the floor a few times to find a sales associate so I could try-on items and / or pay. (Note: Woodbury Common was not crowded when I visited. Therefore, I do not know if this warm and welcoming theme happens during busy times. However, I believe the effort would be there everyday.)

Outlet Shopping is a Phone Call Away

Prior to this visit, I did not know outlet stores offer the service of placing phone orders or email orders for delivery of merchandise. (Note: unsure this is made available by all brands at the outlet.)


I learned about these options while shopping in two stores. When I told the sales associate at Molton Brown, a favorite bath and body brand that I was buying just one item, the brand's signature scent, the fantastic orange & bergamot liquid hand soap because I had reached my comfort level on the amount of bags I could carry back home, she gave me a card with a phone number and an email address and said I could place orders that way. She was friendly and eager to assist.


While shopping at Clarin's I overheard a sales associate tell a shopper phone orders placed to this store are accepted and I felt she encouraged that option. Clarin's was another store with friendly and helpful sales associates. The day after my purchase I received a thank you email from my "beauty coach," Shirley (sales associate). That email was unexpected! While I receive thank you notes from sales associates in full price stores, I did not expect this to happen when shopping at an outlet.


Questions About Products and Prices are Lingering

As previously noted, I am under the impression clothes sold at outlet stores are not always the same current season items sold in full price stores that are then discounted for the outlets. For the most part, I thought brands sell previous seasons' merchandise or manufacture specific lines for outlet stores. I know I will never have this question accurately answered as the hundreds of companies selling in outlets have distinct strategies. However, I decided to "test my theory" at Theory, another favorite brand I've worn for years.


I l have several pairs of Theory's Treeca pull-on pant in good linen that were purchased at full price in a store, ($295).The link is here: https://shorturl.at/aqrHJ What looks to be a similar pair of pants is listed on the Theory Outlet website. The link is here: https://shorturl.at/eilV4 The fabrication is almost the same. I decided to see if these pants were available at the Theory Outlet. (Please refer to table and hang tags photo below for details).


The Theory outlet had a pair of linen blend pull on pants, priced at $195 and the hang tag showing a comparable value of $325. However, the style name of these pants in the outlet store did not match with the style name of the pants listed on the Theory Outlet website. (as well as not matching with the style name of the pants in the full price store) The eye opening finding was I could not figure out what the original price of $325 was referencing.

The Theory.com website shows only one pair of linen pants for $325. It is the high-waist wide-leg pant in good linen. A slim cop is not a wide-leg pant!


The outlet and outlet website also had a 20% off promotion if two items are purchased. I bought one pair of these linen blend pants. I'm happy with this purchase but still puzzled if the pants I bought were ever sold for $325 and if not, why the comparable value is not listed at $295, the full price for the similar crop pants


Full Price

Theory - Woodbury Common

Style Name

Treeca Pull-On Pant in Good Linen

Slim Cropped Pull-On Pant in Stretch Linen-Blend

2 hang tags: (1) Treeca Slim Crop (2) Treeca Pull On Soft Crunch

Fabrication

62% Linen

55% Linen

55% Linen


36% Viscose

41% Lyocell

41% Lyocell


2% Elastane

4% Elastane

4% Elastane

Price

$295

Comparable Value: Price reduced from $325.00

$195.00 (Now 40% OFF)

$325 / Reduced to $195

Planning to Return

My day at Woodbury Common was stress free, educational and productive. These are not usual terms describing a shopping trip! Furthermore, I lucked out with the weather. It was sunny and in the low 70's so I was able to walk and clocked over six miles. Yes, I did walk in circles and probably could have been more efficient; but, wanted to be sure I visited certain stores and followed a list.


The trip did not convince me to rely on outlet shopping to meet my retail needs. However, it did make a dent in my long standing beliefs that the merchandise offered would not be to my liking and I bought a few things I'm sure I will use. I am already thinking about returning to Woodbury Common and rather than waiting a decade, maybe going in a few months.

When spring arrives and summer is not too far away, it is a signal for me to check-up on the dresses in my closet. The review has started, with a few dresses removed from my closet, one dress was purchased recently and there are a few I'm considering to buy.


Dresses that are loose though stylish such as a shift, shirt dress or drop waist are my summer staples. Furthermore, I wear these styles that are made of breathable fabrics, such as cotton or linen. This combination is the best way to dress when experiencing the summer time sauna like conditions when traveling in the New York City subway system, and also waiting outside for a bus!


Below are three dresses that caught my eye while researching on the internet. Each is stylish, looks comfortable and each could effortlessly take you through the day.


The first dress shown is by the contemporary brand Akris Punto. Known for clean silhouettes and high quality fabrics, it is part of the high-end Swiss luxury brand Akris. This beige dress is an eyelet embroidered long sleeve cotton poplin shirt dress with hidden buttons and a gorgeous flounced hemline.


I recently bought this dress at Nordstom and I am looking forward to wearing it. I was concerned the light color would get dirty quickly and hoped it was available in black or navy. Web searches did not turn up any other colors for this dress.

However, I decided the attractive color is one of the nice features of this dress. It is also a calming neutral, shade making the dress a "keeper". The link is here: https://tinyurl.com/3daz58k5 The price is $1,490.


Of note, the Akris Punto website offers a dress with the same fabric in another silhouette. That dress is a sleeveless V-neck fit and flare style midi dress. The link is here: https://tinyurl.com/3s7w9nez The price is $1,590.


The second dress shown is by Lafayette 148. Founded in 1996 in New York City, Lafayette 148 is known for its luxurious fabrics, sophisticated designs and inclusive sizing. For summer dressing, this brand has been a favorite of mine for more than a decade.


I've worn a few different styles of Lafayette 148's black cotton poplin shirt dresses. My favorite one has an asymmetrical hemline and bought more than six years ago. (Honestly I've lost track of time. But once a great dress, always a great dress!) Though this hemline is not as popular as in previous years I still feel terrific wearing it.


The dress shown here is a gingham crinkle cotton and linen drop waist shirt dress. The black and white combination is polished and timeless. It is a versatile dress and would look great with different shoe styles and colors. The link is here: https://tinyurl.com/3mcd5xfw The price is $898.

The last dress is from the brand Rickie Freeman for Teri Jon. In an earlier post, “Embracing Pearls in Your Wardrobe” dated March 5, 2024 another pretty dress by Rickie Freeman by Teri Jon was presented. You now see I'm an admirer of the Teri Jon label!


The dress shown here is delightfully cheerful and bursting with beautiful vibrant colors. It is the floral print drop pleat dress.


I could not locate the composition of this dress on the company's website. Note the website states:"Fabric has some stretch" The fabric is not mentioned though. Yet based on the style and description, it looks to be a top notch dress for a summer day.


This dress would be a smart addition to my wardrobe as it would bring color to my summer closet of at least a dozen black dresses. It is under consideration along with a few others that are not shown in this post. The link is here: https://tinyurl.com/2wj59rtz  The price is $470.


I'm looking forward to warmer weather and wearing dresses that are looser fitting, stylish and comfortable. What types of clothes do you like wearing during the spring and summer? Would it be dresses?

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