All Articles Tagged "shopping"
Smart shoppers know there there are certain times of year when it’s best to buy various items. According to DealNews.com (via Business Insider), there are a few items in May that you may want to consider buying–and some products to pass on.
Clothes and Household Items: Stock up a lot of things with Memorial Day sales. Add coupons to the promotions can slash your prices even more. “For example, last year Calvin Klein took an extra 85% off sale items,” notes the website. So it is a great time to get apparel and housewares.
Gym Deals: Haggle for a deal on your gym membership. May isn’t particularly a discount month for gyms, but because of the high number of people opting to exercise outside, it is a great time to strike a deal. “ It’s fairly simple to extract a discount on a registration fee (which varies but could cost about $50), but if you get your game face on, you could potentially get a deal on the first few months of enrollment as well,” advises DealNews.
Go TV Shopping: According to the website, Ultra HDTVs debuted last month at prices far lower than expected. Sony debuted its 55″ model for $4,999, but “barely-known Chinese manufacturer Seiki made waves with its 50″ 4K TV for $1,500.” And then Seiki dropped it even further to $1,200. Also in April, 55″ 3D HDTVs also fell, hitting an all-time low of $649 for an off-brand Coby HDTV. For name-brand 55″ 3D TVs, consumers can find deals in the $750 to $799 range.
New Cell… Maybe: There are also things to pass on this month. If you’re not going to snap up an HTC First phone (the Facebook phone ) now from AT&T while it’s 99 cents , you might want to wait. According to ZDNet, the provider is either trying to bring in new business or unload phones that will become obsolete rather quickly. Instead save nearly $1,000 buying the iPhone 5 with T-Mobile. The carrier just switched to a contract-free system. “In fact, if you switch to the iPhone 5 via T-Mobile, you could save at least $360 over a 2-year span compared to AT&T — and potentially as much as $1,000,” notes DealNews.
Don’t Buy Gaming Consoles: “Both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 are about to be updated, and even if you don’t want the latest model, the current systems are bound to get cheaper this summer once the next-gen consoles are announced,” notes DealNews. And rumor has it that Microsoft will knock the price of the current Xbox down to $99. Pass on video game purchases for the kids as well.
Ever go into a store and just hate the customer service? You are not alone. According to a new American Consumer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) survey, some of the country’s largest retailers have the worst customer service while, on the bright side, e-commerce retailers scored high customer satisfaction scores.
Recently, 24/7 Wall St reviewed the ACSI data to find the companies with the worst satisfaction scores in retail. On average, the traditional retail companies peaked at 76.6 on a 100-point scale in 2012. Internet retailers, however, had an average score of 82 last year. Out of the nine top retail companies with the worst ACSI scores, only one was an online retailer.
Here are the worst top three:
1. Walmart. Just because a company is a major chain doesn’t mean good customer service. In fact, it seems that the largest chains have the worst track record when it comes to satisfying customers. The $469.1 billion chain only received a score of 71 in the survey. For the purposes of the survey, Wal-Mart Stores was graded as a department and discount store.
When graded for customer satisfaction as a supermarket, Walmart’s ACSI score was not much better, at just a 72, reports the 24/7 Wall St. This was the worst in that category. Despite having a history of poor customer service, Walmart has not improved over the years. In fact, it has been the lowest-rated department or discount store in the nation every year between 2007 through 2012. And, it has been the lowest-rated supermarket every year since 2005. Even it’s e-commerce division doesn’t fare well. According to ForeSee’s E-Retail Satisfaction Index, Walmart received a grade of 78 on a 100 point scale during the 2012 holiday season, while rival Amazon.com led all e-retailers with a score of 88.
2. Netflix. This is the only e-commerce business that had poor grades. It earned a customer satisfaction score of only 75. The company, which makes $3.61 billion annually, was slightly up from 2011 when it received a score of just 74. Over the years it has been dropping in rank. Things got really bad in 2011 when Netflix enraged customers by increasing prices and announcing plans to separate its DVD rental and streaming platforms. But, writes the website, after a considerable hit to its image — consumers were outraged at the prospect of having to pay bills for two platforms that would not be coordinated — the company pulled the plug on the service split.
3. Safeway. Despite earning $44.21 billion each year, Safeway hasn’t put much of an effort in improving its customer service. The supermarket chain received a 75 on the customer satisfaction score. Safeway, which is among the nation’s largest retailers., has more than 1,600 stores. “In each of the past 10 years, Safeway has underperformed supermarkets as a whole in the ACSI,” reports 24/7 Wall St. Customers complain often about inaccurate pricing, which led the state of California to sue the company twice. In fact, a court order required Safeway to refund customers $5 or give them the product free-of-charge if they are charged more than the advertised price. Still, according to a report by CBS 5 in San Francisco the company still often overcharged consumers last year.
We wonder if convenience and affordability, at times, trump a retailer’s commitment to customer service. If you can find what you need at the cheapest price at one store, do you care if the sales associate says “please” and “thank you”? (Though that doesn’t explain what’s going on at Safeway.)
Do you shop at any of these stores? What do you think of their customer service?
With competition tight as businesses vie for fewer consumer dollars, any extra help black businesses could get in attracting customers was welcomed. Black businesses have been reaching out to clients via text alerts. A new website called Ujamaa Deals focuses on increasing black product sales online and then there was the debut of a special smartphone app that locates black businesses at your location. And as we reported, The Around The Way app allows users to locate the black-owned businesses in their vicinity, so they can do a little shopping in the community.
“The response to the app has been great. The majority of the comments are from people who want the Android version, which we plan to launch this month,” Janine Hausif, CEO of Around The Way App, tells us. It’s currently only available for the iPhone. “The rest of the comments we’ve gotten have been praise and suggestions. Overall it’s been great. It’s very much like people are helping to shape and mold this app and that’s exactly what we want — for people to make it their own.”
According to Hausif, since the app’s launch in November 2012, they have had over 5,500 downloads. The data bank includes more 17,000 black-owned businesses. It is free for businesses to join.
One of those businesses is Therapy Wine Bar in Brooklyn, NY. For Angela Terry, owner of Therapy, adding her store to the app directory was a no-brainer. “I wanted to get more exposure for my business,” says Terry, who was introduced to the app by Hausif and was one of the first business owners to add her business to the app. “It’s a good idea because as a small business owner we need so many free and affordable outlets to advertise on,” she told us via email.
And, said Terry, she did see a boost in business after joining the app. After shopping, more people stopped into the eatery. “We did see an increase in foot traffic as well as customers talking about the app,” she says.
Each year it seems like the prices of everything goes up. Well, this year it will be a fact. According to Dealnews (via The Huffington Post), there are various items that will cost you more in 2013 — from cereal to college tuition. Annually, Dealnews looks at items that are expected to cost consumers more in the coming year.
Here are five things that you can expect to pay more for this year:
1) Cars: “Gas prices may be falling, but cars that run on it are getting more expensive. Earlier this year, the Obama administration issued new standards that require automakers improve fuel efficiency, and the cost of upgraded engines alone is driving up prices,” according to Dealnews. For example, A mid-size Toyota Camry will cost you an additional $175 while 2013 Lexus CT 200h will be almost $3,000 more than last year’s model.
2) Groceries: Because of this summer’s drought, foods such as meat, poultry, and dairy prices are all expected to rise. Why? Drought conditions “forced farmers to reduce the size of their herds to combat higher feed costs, the price of beef and chicken is also slated to rise,” the article says.
3) Healthcare: HR consulting firm Aon Hewitt told the outlet says that, even with Obamacare, employee health care premiums are expected to rise an average of six percent in 2013. For more about the latest developments to the new healthcare plan, click here.
4) Computers: As technology gets more advanced, prices increase. Just look at Apple’s new notebooks that feature retina displays. They are among the highest-priced models on the market.
5) Smartphones: In the past, if you signed a long-term cell phone service contact, the maker would subsidize the phone’s cost. Not so much anymore. “In 2013 T-Mobile will eliminate the subsidy and charge full price for its phones. While there’s evidence to suggest that the carrier will in turn allow users to opt for cheaper service rates (thus saving money in the long run), the pill of a full-price phone may be hard for many to swallow,” writes Dealnews.
Think about it — African Americans spend $850 billion annually on goods and services. Yet many African-American businesses are struggling to get by. One of the reasons is that although blacks have major spending power, they are sending very little with black-owned businesses; just 10 percent. A Census report found black-owned businesses generated just 0.5 percent of all receipts in 2007.
Part of the problem is finding businesses owned by African Americans. In the past there have been local directories such as the Black Book and Black Pages, a Yellow Pages-type of listing of African-American owned companies and shops. But now black-owned business are making use of the black communities love of technology and are using digital media to get the word out.
We reported earlier about an app called Around The Way which locates black-owned businesses in your vicinity. Now, according to Black Voice News, “Black-owned businesses are turning to high tech to boost their bottom line.” One retailer doing this, reports Black Voice News is Cloeta Sterling. She sends out twice daily text alerts about what makes her shop stand out — handmade jewelry and the kind of personal service she says you won’t find at Macy’s. With more African Americans tweeting and using other digital media, it’s increasingly becoming a channel that black businesses use more aggressively to seek out black consumers.
And black spending power is only expected to increase to a whopping $1.1 trillion by 2015, found the special report “African American Consumers: Still Vital, Still Growing” released by Nielsen and the National Newspaper Publishers Association. Black businesses want a piece of this action.
Back in 2010, Khadija Nassif of BlackEconomicDevelopment.com wrote an open letter to aspiring African American business owners that if black-owned businesses merely rely on African-American consumers it could be “disastrous.”
“I would invite all aspiring Black business owners to look around at the wreckage of most businesses that tried to do business in Black residential areas as visibly Black-owned businesses,” wrote Nassif. “The primary reason is that African-American consumers don’t want to see visibly Black-owned businesses succeed. The only partial exceptions to this rule were African-American owned hair salons and barbershops.”
Do you think things have changed since Nassif wrote her open letter? Do you try to shop in black-owned businesses?
Black Friday and holiday sales are behind us, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t still bargains to be had. Savvy shoppers know not to overlook the month of January. There are a few pricey items that wait until the beginning of the year to go on sale. Treat yourself to something special without breaking your budgeting resolutions.
If you’re looking for unique gifts, you might want to consider doing your holiday shopping at a flea market.
According to the National Flea Market Association, there are more than 1,100 flea markets in America that are visited by over 150 million customers each year. Their site includes directory links. A Google search will also bring up various flea market directories And these days most will have a website, such as Brooklyn Flea in New York.
Since shopping at a flea market can be overwhelming, especially the large ones like the Rose Bowl Flea Market in LA, which has more than 2,500 vendors, have a plan. First, check out what’s there before really shopping. “Do a quick walk-through of the whole market before purchasing. You may find that one vendor has better deals on similar items,” interior decorator and frequent flea market shopper Kristie Barnett explains to us.
Next, you need to have an idea of the value of items in order to bargain. If you’re looking for vintage items, you also have to be able to distinguish between real vintage clothing items and knockoffs or fakes. “If you are shopping for a specific item, say McCoy pottery, a quick Google search will tell you what to look for,” says Barnett.
Talk the Talk
When bargaining, don’t talk a lot or show interest. “Flea market vendors expect a little haggling and build that into their price, but don’t insult them with low-ball offers,” Barnett points out. “Ask them what their ‘best price’ is for an item, or ask them if they’d give you a discount for purchasing several items.”
“You will always get the best possible price towards the end of the sale, as vendors don’t want to pack up anymore than they have to,” she adds. And take with you only the amount of money you want to spend, this way you won´t go overboard—and you will be more aggressive when bargaining down prices.
And use your mobile phone as you would if you were shopping at the mall. “If you have a smartphone, bring it to do on the spot research. You can even show sellers what you’ve found if their pricing is not competitive,” recommends Cristin Frank, founder of The Eve of Reduction and author of the upcoming book Living Simple, Free and Happy (Betterway Home Books, March 2013).
Believe it or not the best time to visit flea markets, which tend to be outdoors, is when it’s cold, making the holidays the perfect time for a bit of flea market browsing. So bundle up and hit the tables. According to The New York Times, there may be fewer vendors on bad weather days but there will also be fewer shoppers, meaning vendors will be more willing to cut you a great deal.
To further discuss ways to save money around the holidays, or any time of year, visit the Madame Noire Business Facebook page on Wednesday at 3pm for our chat with the Double Saving Divas.
Imagine having access to the more than 1.9 million black-owned businesses in the United States at your fingertips? A company called Around The Way, which is based in New York, teamed up with Washington, D.C.-based mobile-app development firm Clearly Innovative to create a mobile app that will locate black-owned businesses in your area.
The companies say they hope the Around The Way app will support and empower black-owned businesses, especially around this all-important Christmas shopping season. The app, which is available only for the Apple iPhone right now,can be downloaded from the Apple app store.
While the app doesn’t have all of the black-owned businesses in the U.S. yet, it does contain a substantial number and there’s a spot on the app’s website where you can add your business. “The app can locate 17,000 black-owned businesses in all 50 states. Many of the businesses are located in New York City, and other major metropolitan areas,” Eric Hamilton, chief marketing officer and co-founder of Around The Way wrote in an e-mail to The NorthStar News & Analysis.
To increase the number of black-owned businesses in the database, Around The Way is partnering with the New York African American Chamber of Commerce and other black chambers to encourage owners to download the app. By doing this, owners can encourage users to patronize their businesses.
“Around The Way’s sole purpose is to empower black-owned businesses by altering the point of purchase of potential customers… This newly available mobile application allows users to find the closest black-owned business in their vicinity with colorful maps and pinned locations,” Around The Way officials told The NorthStar News & Analysis. “Users can choose from nine-different categories of businesses to locate.” They are: ATM/Bank, Auto, Bakery/Café, Beauty Parlor/Barber Shop, Club/ Lounge, Laundry/Dry Cleaners, Lodging, Restaurants and Shopping.
If black Friday deals happen on a Thursday, are they still considered Black Friday deals? Shouldn’t it be grey-area Thursday?
While I contemplated whether I should go out to the club or stay in with the family (the club won out), I know some of you were lining up outside of some big box store for 10 $200 LCD HDTV or the five available $19.99 Blu-ray Disc Player, to go along with the other HDTV and Blu-ray you got last year (seriously, it is the same deal year after year). Or maybe you are standing in front of these stores in solidarity with the striking workers of Walmart? No I didn’t think so either. No wonder we can’t have nice things like livable wages and benefits.
You would think Americans would learn from the recession, the recent austerity measures in Washington and the overall Republicans hatred of the 47 percent that our rampant consumerism, in particular our addiction to new stuff, keeps us hostage to debt, co-signs social inequalities and contributes to the further erosion of our environment. Yet every year there is never a shortage of viral videos of Black Friday shoppers, drop kicking each other in the chest to be the first to get their hands on a Furby. And although there has been no report of serious injuries, give it time, the day is still young and the Nintendo Wii U has just been marked down at some store by another 40 percent…
I don’t know why we continue to do it to ourselves. Oh yeah I do. Love for our family and friends and guilt – mostly guilt. This guilt is particularly profound if you so happen to be a parent. Although I have no children of my own, as an aunt of six, I can certainly empathize with the sensitivity and insecurity some parents feel about depriving their children of things they didn’t have growing up – or over compensating because you haven’t been the most attentive or financially secure parent (or in my case, auntie) throughout the years. So we stand in a long and sometimes volatile queue for the pleasure of not looking like deadbeat adults – at least for a few weeks.
Why can’t things be like they were back in the day? In our day, we didn’t need to have all those toys and gadgets for Christmas. We were content with being with family and grateful for whatever gift our parents could afford – even if it was just a stick on a string. We played with that stick on a string like it was the best damn toy in the whole wide world. Of course I’m being factitious. As long as I can remember, parents have been going all out to make the holiday season something special for the youngins. Before the iPads, Kirbys and Playstations, there were Tickle-Me Elmos, Ataris and the Cabbage Patch Doll.
We didn’t have much. My mother, my brother and I shared a small one-bedroom apartment in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. My brother and I learned early on about our financial situation and therefore knew not to ask mother for anything. That’s why it came as a surprise when one morning, my mother asked me, “What do you want for Christmas?” I didn’t even hesitate to tell her what had been on my mind for months, “cabbage patch.”
For those born after the craze, the Cabbage Patch Kid doll was the most coveted toy on the face of the earth. There were kids in my class, who already had several of the cherub face dolls, which came with their own birth certificates. According to the official Cabbage Patch Kids website (yeah the makers are still around) by the end of 2983, almost 3 million of the Cabbage Patch Kids Toys have been “adopted” but demand has not been met. All around the country, there were Cabbage Patch doll shortages and crafty entrepreneurs were selling them at inflated and often egregious prices to desperate parents. My mother scrunched up her nose, “I don’t know if a cabbage patch is in the cards right now but we’ll see.”
The dreaded “we’ll see” was the usual disclaimer for, “odds are, this it ain’t gonna happen kid, and so don’t get your hopes up.” But I felt almost defeated. For days before Christmas break, I had to listen to the other girls in my class brag about finding the Christmas present hiding spot around their house and seeing that familiar yellow and green box. Going back on the “never ask for nothing” rule, I gave my mom my best sad eyes and delicately reminded her of the importance that this doll was to my social life.
“Maybe you should ask your grandmother.” That was a great idea. Every year my grandmother would send to me the big Christmas lookbook from Sears with its pages and pages of toys. I would go through with a black and white composition book and pencil, writing down all the toys I wanted. And then she would edit it with more realistic expectations. But that particular year, I didn’t need the book as I already knew what was at the top of my list. “We’ll see,” she said, as she sighed.
The night before Christmas my grandma called me on the phone and confessed to me that despite her best efforts, there would be no cabbage patch for me under the tree. “It is a shortage everywhere.” I was devastated and moping around all evening. My mom asked me what’s wrong. “If I didn’t have the cabbage patch, what else was there to be excited about?” She rolled her eyes and slapped me in the back of the head, “You getting on my damn nerves.” On her orders, I went to bed early that Christmas eve.
Christmas morning, I awoken, still disgruntled yet ready to tear into some presents. My brother and I ran into the front room and there it was. Beneath the tree was that familiar yellow and green box. Say Word! Suddenly I became the happiest kid in the entire apartment complex. Apparently, when we were sleeping, my mother snuck out to a toy store, which had just announced that it had some Cabbage Patches they had been holding until Christmas Eve. She stood in the cold for hours, with hundreds of other folks, waiting for the store to open its doors for this special sale. When the doors finally opened, all order was abandoned and it was every man or woman for him/herself. People were fighting and shoving and knocking each other down. Store clerks had abandoned their post and let folks do what they were going to do. “I had to fight and crawl over people just to make it to the display where the dolls were at,” she said. I listened in disbelief, clutching my newly acquired Cabbage Patch doll, as my mother told me how she had to physically wrestle the doll out of the hands of one woman, while beating off the grabby hands from other shoppers, who were equally as desperate to lay claim to the doll. “I thought I was going to go to jail that night.”
The birth certificate in the box said his name was Gilbert. He was dark brown skinned with brown hair made out of yarn. I signed the birth certificate in the box; to acknowledge that I had officially adopted him. I cherish that doll to this day but not as much as the thought that my mom was ‘bout ready to beat somebody down just so she could get me this doll. That was love – and a little bit of guilt too. Our living and financial situations weren’t always ideal so Christmas was probably my mother’s way of saying, see, I try. Underneath the tree and behind Gilbert was another doll, which looked like a cabbage patch but it wasn’t in its proper packaging nor did it have the authentic birth certificate or official signature on it. “Oh yeah, earlier in the week, this guy on the Avenue was selling these Cabbage Patches on a stand. I figured just in case. So now you got two. Merry Christmas.” Best Christmas ever.
This will probably make me sound like an a—hole, but shopping bothers the bejeezus out of me. Seriously. Nothing is more of a hassle to me than shopping. Childhood memories of being trapped in the fitting room with my mom at Lane Bryant and haggling with street vendors with my aunt have scarred me for life. The trying on of clothes and testing of appliances and checking of prices and negotiation of discounts is nothing short of tedious and annoying. So it should come as no surprise that the Black Friday tradition is the equivalent to my idea of Kryponite. I try to avoid it at all costs.
But doesn’t every girl want to be a glamazon like Tyra or RuPaul? Or even an online style maven like Karla Deras or Patrice Grell Yursik? Not I. According to my mother I have always been a stubborn goat about shopping, baby dolls and dress up. She’s the complete opposite – she’s the type that likes to go to the mall just to walk around and look at people. For her Black Friday is like a perfect trifecta: crazy acting people, low prices and shopping. Me? I’m more likely to identify with some e card picture that everyone is posting on Facebook, lamenting the fact that Black Friday pressed-ness has taken over the ‘thankful’ spirit of Thanksgiving. What is it about price manipulation on electronics that whips people into such a frenzied state? Are your kids really going to be using the stuffed animals and gadgets you’re fighting other soccer moms for six months after Christmas? Is it really that serious? Maybe I’m lazy, but can’t you just cop it on Amazon and have it delivered to your door? What is the real root of the desire rush out and buy things you’ll have to return anyway?
The whole shebang must have some appeal other than ‘low, low prices.’ People must enjoy throwing ‘bows over overpriced Bose systems. Maybe the cardiovascular exercise shoppers get from powerwalking/racing other customers for the last of the Vikram 5 finger shoes helps them work off grandma’s pecan pie. Maybe folks just dig the camaraderie that comes with standing together thirstily waiting for Best Buy to open. Or maybe some people just love the thrill of the hunt. Whatever it is, it’s disturbing the balance of the holiday season schedule. For the first time in my life stores have been putting out the Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving. At this rate Black Friday will get pushed back to July by 2025. Insanity. STOP THE MADNESS.
Something about huddling in the cold and dark just to get a product, whatever it is, makes me feel claustrophobic, like I literally cannot breathe. Even if you get that $50 sweater for $40, it was probably made for $2 overseas by someone making $0.50 a day. I’m not here for the shoving and the trampling that in the end make people like the Waltons even richer. I’m not here for the desperate commercials aimed at making people feel like they have to spend all their money on holiday presents just to feed the Black Friday machine. What I am here for, though, is forgoing the mall and taking some extra time to hang out with my grandparents. I’m here for reading to my god-brothers and little cousins and learning how to make auntie’s famous oyster stuffing. Thanksgiving is for family, food and friendship, not fisticuffs over the Fall deals at Filene’s. And if I end up having the urge to blow some cash on Christmas/Kwanzaa/Hannukah gifts, best believe that I will be doing it from the comfort of my home on Cyber Monday.