Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Working Out the Pricing System at Salvation Army Op Shops

I thought it may be worth explaining the pricing system at Salvos stores, as it is actually kind of complicated and something you can work to your advantage, if you’re so inclined.

You may have noticed that Salvos uses price tags of several different colours (blue, yellow, purple and something else, I think). This system isn’t arbitrary, or a way of sorting the quality or type of the merchandise. It actually functions as a measure of how long certain items have been in the shop.

This is where another of the Salvos op shop conventions comes in – the ‘all blue/yellow etc tickets half price’ signs. At any time, all items with a certain colour tag are half price. What happens is that all new items which go onto the shop floor over a seven day period have the same colour tag. After three weeks have passed, any items still in the shop with that colour are half price for a week. Then those items that still haven’t sold are moved to a different Salvos store, where there’ll be a better chance of them being sold.

After the half price week, that colour is used for the newest items again.

Clever, huh?

So essentially, if you like something but can’t afford it/think it’s overpriced, check its tag and then figure out if it is currently half price/soon will be half price. Or you could wait it out for a number of weeks, if you have the requisite Nerves of Steel.

Usually I wouldn’t sweat it if an item is in your usual op-shop under $10 category. But sometimes the Salvos (espesh in country areas) do get wonderful old clothes, accessories and homewares, and charge accordingly. If you can pick up one of these items after it’s been sitting around for a while, you get a bargain, and the shop gets to shift some old stock that they would otherwise be moving off to another store.

Why all prices at the Salvos end in 75c is still a mystery to me, however. I’ll have to get on to that one.

Do you know of a Salvos that doesn’t participate in this scheme? Are there any finer points you can add to it, or why everything has to be $x.75? Any and all insights on this or other price systems are most welcome.

(This is also posted at - ps, I found this info out from a helpful vollie at Kyneton Salvos who explained the whole system to me unprompted - another reason to check out the ops there!)


CurlyPops said...

Thanks for that info - very useful!

joyflea said...

That's cool about the colour coding. A well informed source (my partner) tells me that the reason the Salvos changed all prices to end in .75c is because they get an extra 50c when the customer purchases 2 or more items. It's like selling and item for 99c even though 1c coins aren't around anymore. The customer thinks they are getting a bargain at $2.75 instead of $3.00, so ends up buying another item. And voila, an extra 50c.

If a Salvos volunteer can explain otherwise I would be very happy to know.

samantha said...

Thanks for the explanation although I'm not sure I can change my impulse buying habit! Thanks to do joyflea as I reckon your partner has a very good theory there.

Stacey said...

Very interesting!
Good theory too about the .75 pricing.
My husband works in marketing and explained to me the whole pricing strategy thing. Its amazing how much psychology goes into it.