HOW MUCH IS that doggy in the window?
Well, there is a posted price -- but there's also a sale on, we've got this coupon from the paper, and we've got a store loyalty card and a frequentbuyer punch card, and using this credit card gives us a discount, except that they say they honor competitor's coupons and we've got one of those, but they also will beat any competitor's price and we've got an ad, but then again they might be having an even better deal next week, and won't we feel foolish paying more, so maybe we should ask what kind of deal they can do for us ...
Welcome to the retail pricing game, circa 2007.
It's a game -- or maybe contest of wills is the better description for it -- that neither retailer nor consumer claims to enjoy playing. Every year, though, both play it ever more enthusiastically, or desperately, as though neither can escape it.
Retailers could get out of this if they wanted to. Just declare a basic price, stick to it, avoid the increasingly complicated discount schemes and hold sales so occasionally that they're actually special events when they occur.
But then ... who wants to run the risk of chasing away potential customers who have been conditioned to expect some sort of discount all day every day -- especially in such a dodgy economic climate?