There's a reason people buy T-shirts and mugs printed with the slogan "I can't be trusted at Target": Shoppers often lament that they left the superstore with more items than they planned to buy. If you're one of those shoppers, don't feel bad, says Kristin McGrath, shopping expert at Offers.com. Retailers design stores to separate you from your money.
"When you first walk in, you're greeted with displays of fun sale items, such as seasonal decor and treats, candles, and other stylish small-ticket items that seem destined for your cart," she says. "Just steps in the door, and you're already adding items to your cart that weren't on your shopping list."
Despite the temptation to overspend, experts say there are lots of good reasons to shop at Target — and ways to save money doing it. The store's expanding collection of private-label products means you can get quality items at a lower price, and its generous return policy allows you to bring most regretful purchases back for a full refund.
Here are four ways experts say you can maximize your savings.
The easiest way to avoid impulse spending at Target is to not wander into the store in the first place. "You may have come to Target for shampoo, paper towels, and mouthwash, but good luck making it past the Hearth & Hand display without picking up a candle or throw pillow," McGrath says.
Take advantage of alternatives, including in-store order pick-up and drive-up pick-up, which are free, and same-day home delivery for a fee. Availability of those services depends on your location and what items you want to order.
Or order online. Target offers free two-day shipping on many orders over $35. Not all purchases qualify, McGrath says. "Bulky or heavy items, for example," she says, may entail an extra fee. Other items may ship for free but take longer than two days to arrive, so "be sure to check the shipping details as you shop."
Either way, the less time you spend in the store, the less likely you are to buy things you don't need.
Target price-matches not only against its competitors, which include Costco, Walmart, and Amazon, but its own website, too.
"Check the prices of items you are planning to buy in store with Target.com because sometimes they are cheaper online," says consumer savings expert Andrea Woroch. "You can request a price match with their online deal."
Target Circle is Target's free shopping app. Here, you can find weekly ads and exclusive offers via the Cartwheel function, says Woroch. "You can search by category or product name or simply by scanning the item [in store] to see if there's a deal available."
Some of Target Circle's offerings right now include 20% off snacks like Pirate's Booty, SkinnyPop, and Pretzel Crisps. Other discounts include 25% off Kleenex Toy Story Facial Tissues and 10% off bedding.
With the app, you also get 1% back as a store credit to redeem on a later shopping trip. (Target store credit card holders get a 5% upfront discount instead of the 1% reward.) App users also get a 5% discount on their birthday.
Any buyer's remorse can be alleviated, since Target has a lenient return policy. The store will fully refund you for most unopened items within 90 days of your purchase, although there are exceptions. If you have a Target credit card, called the Target RedCard, you have an extra 30 days to return your purchases.
That's true "even if you misplace your receipt, since you can scan your credit card for recent transactions," Woroch says.
The store offers even longer timelines on its own brands, which can typically be returned or exchanged within one year.
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