15 Ways to Save at Crate & Barrel

save_at_crate_&_barrel

Whether you’ve just scored a new abode or you’ve been living in your place for a while and it could use a little updating, Crate & Barrel is a long-standing go-to when it comes to home furnishings. The store sells quality goods, so prices for some items can be on the higher end. Luckily there are some pretty easy ways to save. Here are 15 of them.

1. Sign Up for the Newsletter

Provide your email address for current offers, sales and news.

2. Shop the Special Offers & Rebates Section

Crate & Barrel often offers added incentives for customers to shop by including things like gift cards for free items with purchase in their Special Offers & Rebates section. Examples include things like a $30 gift card with purchase of a KitchenAid Mixer or up to 50% off Viking Contemporary seven-piece cookware sets.

3. Wait for Items to Make it to the Clearance Section

As with any store, Crate & Barrel needs to move inventory frequently to make room for new items, especially as they relate to seasonal goods. Check with the Clearance and Outlet section of the site frequently to see if the things you need have gone on sale.

4. Check the Site for Coupon Offers

Before heading to the store or making a purchase online, be sure to check with the coupon section of the chain’s website to see if any special offers are happening.

5. Never Pay for Shipping

Even if you can’t make it into the store to buy your goods, make sure you never pay for shipping by checking out the Free Shipping section of the site and only order the items you need once they won’t cost you to ship.

6. Apply for the Crate & Barrel Credit Card

If you’re a savvy credit card user and frequent Crate & Barrel shopper, its credit card can earn you 10% back in reward dollars or six months of special financing, as well as other perks like special offers and access to events. The card has no annual fee, but like most store cards it does come with a hefty variable annual percentage rate (27.49%), so only get one if you can pay the card off in full every single time you use it. Favor a different brand? You can learn more about the best credit cards for a stress-free shopping spree right here.

Just be sure to check your credit before applying for any new plastic. Otherwise, you risk a rejection — and a hard inquiry on your credit report — for naught. (You can view two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com.)

7. Use Your Crate & Barrel Card at its Sister Stores

You can use your Crate & Barrel credit card at CB2 and The Land of Nod as well to really rack up the reward dollars you earn.

8. Create a Registry

When you create a wedding registry with Crate & Barrel, you’ll have access to their 10% completion credit for six months after your event, which applies to anything left on your registry as well as items in the store or online. Learn more here.

9. Search Online for Coupons

Check out sites like dealsplus, RetailMeNot, Coupon Cabin and Savings.com for discount codes that you can apply to your Crate & Barrel purchases, or …

10. … Install a Coupon Aggregator on Your Computer

Browser extensions like Honey will automatically find and apply coupon codes for you at checkout.

11. Purchase Used Gift Cards

Visit a gift card resale site and search for Crate & Barrel gift cards that you can buy at a discounted rate.

12. Follow Crate & Barrel on Social Media

Never miss a sale when you follow Crate & Barrel on their social media sites, like Twitter and Facebook.

13. Keep an Eye Out for Special Ways to Earn More Savings

Every now and then Crate & Barrel will offer additional ways to enter for a chance to save — which is all the more reason to keep an eye out on their social media pages for updates.

14. Earn Cash Back

Use a cash back or rebate site to earn a little bit extra back on your Crate & Barrel purchases.

15. Let the Brand Know You’re Moving

Register your move with the U.S. Postal Service online and be sure to click on the section that allows you to receive coupons from certain home goods stores — Crate & Barrel has been known to send them to new homeowners for 10% off.

Want more brand hacks? We’ve got 15 ways to save at Bed Bath & Beyond and 18 ways to save at CVS.

Have a brand you’d like us to tackle? Let us know in the comments section below.

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

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9 Splurge-Worthy Additions for Your New Home

Upgrade your new pad with splurge-worthy additions.

Image: kupicoo

 

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Here’s Your Ultimate Spring Cleaning Shopping List

Spring cleaning is hard work. But with the right tools, sprucing up your home can take a little less elbow grease.

It’s been a long winter, and hibernating has not done us any favors — many of us have probably put off giving our caves a deep spring cleaning. But now that it’s (mostly) above freezing, it’s time to throw open those windows, let in some fresh air and get scrubbing.

A few friendly financial notes before you get going: While you’re sprucing up your home, it might be a good time to do the same with your finances. You can begin by getting a free credit report snapshot, updated every two weeks, on Credit.com. Also, be sure you don’t go overboard when it comes to buying Spring cleaning supplies. If you’re good about staying on budget, consider a solid shopping credit card to reap rewards off of your purchases. Just be sure to pay that balance off at the end of the month, so you don’t wind up losing those points, miles or cash back to interest.

With all that money stuff in mind, here’s what you need to know before you tackle the deepest clean of the year.

1. Spring Cleaning Tools

Sure, you’ve been vacuuming all along, but it’s time to go deeper. There’s no need to scrub on your hands and knees or wrestle with a mop. The Duop System ($29.99 and up) can be used with a handle or your hand. Created for professional cleaners, it’s designed to reduce the risk of injury while cleaning. The handle height is easy to adjust, whether you’re dusting the ceiling or washing the kitchen floor. The interchangeable microfiber pads, which come in a variety of sizes, can be used dry or wet, moistened with water or a mild cleanser.

For other areas, Leslie Reichert, green cleaning coach and author of The Joy Of Green Cleaning likes the General Purpose Cloth or the Kitchen Cloth from e-cloth ($7.99 each). Like the Duop, the cloths are microfiber so they often require nothing but water.

“If you have some spots that have a buildup of grease, you can spray the area with a touch of rubbing alcohol to break up the buildup and then wipe with the e-cloth,” she said. “The fibers in the cloth work to get underneath the dirt and lift it off without harming even delicate surfaces, like cabinets.”

As you move around the house with your Duop and e-cloth, bring your water in a lightweight bucket, like the colorful Kikkerland Collapsible Bucket ($10). When you’re done cleaning, it collapses flat for easy storage.

2. All-Purpose Cleaner

For tasks that require more than water, there’s no need to purchase a product with a long list of mysterious — and potentially toxic — ingredients. The Force of Nature Electrolyzed Cleaning Starter Kit ($59.95) converts salt, water and vinegar into a powerful cleaner by electrolyzing them. The kit includes everything you need to create several batches of non-toxic, fragrance-free cleaning solution. It also comes with travel-sized spray bottles to take on the go.

3. The Many Uses of Vinegar

Alyssa Kaldahl, merchandising manager at women’s apparel site Jane.com, suggests using vinegar for tough cleaning jobs. For instance, use equal parts vinegar and water on a sock to clean your blinds. Cleaning the fridge is a dreaded spring cleaning task, but here’s her fix.

“Throw away any expired food and then wipe down all the shelves and drawers with vinegar mixed with water in a spray bottle,” she said. “You can also add some lemon or other citrus essential oil to your mix if you want to leave a nice scent.”

To get out stubborn carpet stains, she suggests spraying the spot with one part vinegar and two parts water, putting a damp rag over the spot and ironing the rag. Repeat until stain is gone.

4. Homemade Stain Remover

Lisa Batra, founder of My Kid’s Threads, an online consignment shop for kids’ clothes, knows stains. She said while it’s ideal to treat a stain ASAP, her team often doesn’t know how long a stain has been there. They inspect about 1,000 items each week and have had success with a homemade stain-remover recipe:

Combine one tablespoon baking soda, four tablespoons dish soap and eight tablespoons hydrogen peroxide in a small container and stir well. “Apply directly to the stain and rub gently with your finger, a piece of fabric or an old toothbrush,” she said. “Allow it to sit for at least 15 minutes and then wash normally.”

For surface stains, like on cabinets or counters, decluttering expert Kelly McClenahan, of the Live Uncluttered blog on PriceSelfStorage.com, suggests Mr. Clean MagicErasers ($5.76 at Walmart — check out our review of the Walmart credit card here).

“Use them to remove almost any surface stains, especially the burner areas of the flat-top stove and those occasional crayon marks you may find on your walls,” McClenahan said.

She also recommends using cotton swabs and old toothbrushes “to get down to the details with hard-to-reach, itty-bitty spaces.”

5. Get Organized

According to McClenahan, no spring cleaning is complete without sorting your stuff. “Box up items you no longer need in your home,” she said. “Separate things you want to keep, store, donate and trash.”

A great way to organize the items that you’re keeping but not using currently is to store them in boxes with labels. The Brother P-Touch Label Maker ($39.99 at Staples) is fun and easy to use. It has different fonts and modes to add your own flair. For storage boxes, my go-to is the Container Store, which carries boxes of virtually any size, shape or color.

If you’re worried more about your wallet than your abode as winter breaks, we’ve got 50 ways to give your finances a fresh start right here.

Image: omgimages

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14 Ways to Save at Overstock.com

Whether you’re looking for towels or a new couch, socks or a crate for your cat.

Whether you’re looking for towels or a new couch, socks or a crate for your cat, there’s a pretty good chance Overstock.com will have it. Here are 14 ways to save on whatever you crave at this online store.

1. Sign Up for Email Alerts

Overstock sends its email subscribers exclusive coupons pretty frequently, and, as of press time, when you sign up, you could get an automatic 10% off coupon.

2. Join Club O Gold

Club O members get free shipping on all orders and earn 5% in rewards dollars for every purchase. Other incentives include 5% in Club O Reward Dollars every time you pay with your registered card at a participating restaurant and up to 40% in rewards when you purchase certain items on their deals page.

3. Take Advantage of Free Membership Opportunities

Membership to Club O Gold is free for certain people (first responders, teachers and students, active military and veterans, for instance), so be sure to take advantage of it if you fall into one of those categories. Otherwise it costs $19.95 to join.

4. Use Overstock Coupons

Visit Overstock’s own coupon page to take advantage of daily deals that will save you even more money.

5. Get Coupons From Other Sites

Search around for coupon offers from other sites like Coupons.com, RetailMeNot or even Groupon.

6. Install Honey

These aren’t the only sites with coupons that could help you save at Overstock. Instead of spending hours searching, consider installing Honey on your computer and let the coupon aggregation site apply the best coupon code at checkout for you. (Be sure to read the full terms and conditions before signing up so you know what the tool entails.)

7. Consider an Overstock Credit Card

Its Club O Rewards MasterCard offers up to 8% back in Club O dollars on Overstock purchases (5% through Club O, 3% for using the card), 2% back on gas and groceries and 1% back everywhere else. You’ll get a $40 statement credit after your first purchase. Just pay any balances off in full: The card carries a variable APR of 16.49% to 25.49%, depending on creditworthiness. (You can get a sense of where you might fall by viewing two of your free credit scores, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.)

Not sure how the Overstock credit card stacks up against other retailers’ rewards plastic? Check out our picks for the best shopping credit cards are a starting point.

8. Check Out Flash Deals

Sign up for flash deal notification emails on products or check the Flash Deals page for new discounts starting daily at 12 p.m. EST.

9. Shop Clearance & Liquidation Items

Check out Overstock’s Clearance & Liquidation section for up to 75% off on select items. You can sign up for weekly clearance notification emails, as well.

10. Take a Second Before Making That Purchase

You can often cash in on extra savings by putting items in your shopping cart online and then waiting a bit to actually buy them. Stores often send follow up emails to customers reminding them of what’s in their carts, usually with a coupon attached to incentivize them to make the purchase even more.

11. Go the Gift Card Route

Sites like Raise.com sell gift cards for stores at a discounted price. For example, if you visit the Raise Overstock page you might find an Overstock gift card valued at $50 that costs you $45.

12. Check out PayPal Offers

PayPal often offers discounts on certain shops when you pay with your account. Check their offers page frequently for updated offers.

13. Make Purchases on a Holiday

Like most stores, Overstock tends to offer big discounts around certain holidays. The Presidents’ Day sale, for example, had certain home décor, garden and patio, and luggage items — along with tons of others — at up to 70% off. You can check out holiday sale previews on their Deals Destination page.

14. Ship Smart

Overstock changes its shipping offers throughout the year, so check out their shipping calendar page to make the most of free standard or upgraded, expedited and express shipping offers, which are often associated with specific holidays.

Looking for more brand hacks? Here’s 15 ways to save at Bed Bath & Beyond and 14 ways to save at Babies R Us.

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

Image: PeopleImages

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4 Toy Trends Your Kids Will Love This Year

A look at the upcoming trends and coolest toys featured at Toy Fair New York.

Image: Weekend Images Inc.

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15 Ways to Save at Bed Bath & Beyond

For anyone on the hunt for those increasingly elusive 20% off coupons.

If you’ve ever walked into Bed Bath & Beyond with five items on your to-get list and walked out with 20 purchases, you’re not alone. Luckily there are plenty of ways to save at this home goods mega-store. Here are 15.

1. Subscribe to Its Emails

Sign up to receive emails from BB&B and you’ll get 20% off one in-store purchase right away, plus plenty more exclusive offers and promotions directly to your inbox on a regular basis.

2. Provide the Store With Your Address

Emails usually come every week or two from BB&B with coupon offers, but if you provide your address you’ll receive offers through snail mail as well. While some of these coupons come with expiration dates printed on them, the store usually accepts coupons past those dates.

3. Stack Multiple Coupons

While most coupons say they’re good for only one purchase (although every now and then you might be lucky enough to get a 20% off your entire purchase option), you can stack your coupons by making multiple purchases, especially if they’re done online (just make sure you qualify for free shipping on your orders, otherwise it doesn’t make much sense to do this).

4. Shop Competitors for Better Offers

Bed Bath & Beyond will match any direct competitor’s price for identical items, as long as they meet these conditions.

5. Use Price-Matching & a Coupon

While it’s not always available, if the competitor with the better price would allow you to apply a coupon as well, Bed Bath & Beyond will allow you to do the same. Otherwise, they apply the best discount — either the coupon or the price-match option.

6. Get a Manufacturer’s Coupon

BB&B also accepts manufacturer’s coupons at their stores, plus you can

7. Cash in on a Manufacturer’s Coupon & a Price Match

Double your savings by doing some research for better prices at a competing store, and then find a manufacturer’s coupon for the item and BB&B will let you use both. (Remember, this must be a manufacturer’s coupon, not a competitor’s coupon.)

8. Hold on to Receipts to Cash in on Coupons Later

Save those receipts for your recently purchased items at BB&B. If you receive a coupon a couple days later, the store will still honor the discount.

9. Ask for Price Adjustments on Sale Items

Even if you don’t get a coupon in the mail, if an item you just purchased goes on sale, bring the item and your receipt in for a price adjustment.

10. Get a Bed Bath & Beyond Credit Card

The brand’s MasterCard gives frequent shoppers 5% back for every $1 spent at its stores, 2% back per $1spent on gas and groceries and 1% back anywhere else. Just be sure to pay your balances off in full; otherwise, you’ll be paying a variable purchase annual percentage rate (APR) of 24.49%, 18.49%, or 14.49%, depending on your creditworthiness. (You can get a sense of where you would fall by viewing two of your credit scores, updated every 14 days, for free on Credit.com.)

Frequent another retailer? Check out our picks for the best shopping credit cards.

11. Get Cash Back

Use sites like Shop at Home to receive cash back on your purchases at Bed Bath & Beyond. (The site has coupon offers, as well.)

12. Check Out the Clearance Section

It’s obvious but worth repeating — don’t forget to shop the clearance section, especially if you’re looking for a particular type of item rather than an actual item (i.e. coffee makers rather than Hamilton Beach coffee makers). The BB&B clearance section has hundreds of items on sale, sometimes at more than half off. Experts say looking early in the week is best, too, because that tends to be when new inventory is available.

13. Wait for Additional Deals to Come via Email

Besides their awesome 20% coupons, BB&B is also known for sending exclusive deals to their email users that might help you save even more. For example, “Any 2 for $10 [regularly $9.99 each] on Taste & Co. Olive Oils and Balsamic Vinegars” is sitting in my inbox right now. This is a great way to stock up on gifts for future use.

14. Score Gift Cards Directly From the Store

Besides coupons, clearance items and price matching, BB&B has also been known to provide shopping incentives to their customers by offering gifts cards with your purchases. These gift cards usually don’t expire, so they’re a great way to save. If you haven’t seen a gift card from BB&B lately, you could always do the following instead …

15. Buy Cheap Gift Cards Online

Use sites like Cardpool.com and Gift Card Granny to purchase gift cards for BB&B at less than face value. Keep in mind that most are eGift cards for online use only, and they sometimes take a day or two to arrive.

Want more brand hacks? Check out our roundup of 7 ways to save at Home Depot.

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

Image: PeopleImages

The post 15 Ways to Save at Bed Bath & Beyond appeared first on Credit.com.

7 Tips to Save on Electronics

shopping for TV electronics in the store

Everyone wants the latest and greatest when it comes to electronics, but keeping up with frequent technological updates on products could have you broke in a year’s time if you’re not careful.

Instead of shelling out your life’s savings to keep up with the changes, consider following some of these suggestions to stay up on tech trends and keep your budget in the green.

1. Sell your old devices to help fund the new ones

Especially if your old iPhone, television or PlayStation is in good condition, you should be able to sell your device (sometimes directly back to the provider, depending on what the device is, although selling it yourself privately could get you more of a profit) and use the money to put towards investing in the newer model. Here’s a guide from Consumer Reports with three good options for selling back your old phones and gadgets, and of course the old standbys of Craigslist and eBay will probably work, too.

2. Negotiate for a better price

As with most consumer products, electronics are usually negotiable, especially during times of year when suppliers are desperate to move items to make room for new things (like at the end of the holiday season, for example, or at the beginning of spring). When it comes to haggling, keep in mind that while it never hurts to try asking for a discount no matter where you’re making your purchase, you might be more likely to get what you ask for when you shoot for an independent or regional store, rather than a big chain.

3. Go for the ugly packaging

If a package looks like it’s been opened or the label has been ripped off — but everything inside seems totally fine and the product actually still works — ask the manager for a discount for taking the battered and bruised packaging off his hands. You should be able to get at least 10 or 15% off right away.

4. Buy it online

Heading to the store to pick out your very own new tech goody might seem like more fun, but by ordering it online you can search around for added coupons that could save you a ton. Check out places like Slickdeals.net, Bargain Jack, techbargains.com and RetailMeNot.com to get your search started.

5. Do your research

One of the easiest ways to avoid overspending on tech goodies is to do your research on when new versions of products are coming out so that you don’t end up buying something that you’ll only want to turn around and replace with the newer option a couple months down the road. Most big-name products tend to have releases around the same time every year anyway (like new iPhone models in September, for example), so get to know those schedules and you’ll never be left with the older version right before something newfangled becomes available.

6. Only buy the more expensive options when it’s really necessary

While it’s true that upgrades are likely to have more bells and whistles that you’ll want when it comes to big products, for other, smaller tech products, sometimes the cheaper options can be just as useful. Take cables, for example. You could dish out hundreds for expensive, long-range cables that promise all kinds of things, but in most cases a generic, high-speed cable that you’ll find for a couple bucks at the store will work just fine. Be sure to check online for reviews of the product before buying it, and stay away from dollar store or flimsy looking options and you should be fine.

7. Avoid the warranty

Whether or not you decide to purchase the additional warranty on an item will be up to you (and might just be determined by how careful you are with your tech toys), but in most cases it simply doesn’t pay. Check out this piece for more on why.

The post 7 Tips to Save on Electronics appeared first on MagnifyMoney.

So Apparently the Holiday Shopping Season Started Already

holiday-shopping

Holiday shopping once marked that precious time between Thanksgiving and the December holidays. Santa sightings, piped-in Christmas carols and a mad rush at the mall all made buying those gifts almost a full contact sport. But this year, before the first frost, even before school started, Americans have been shopping. In fact, one in three began shopping before Labor Day, according to new data from Rubicon Project.

And they’re getting more splurgy, too. According to the data, the average person is planning to spend $1,175, up 12% from last year.

Who’s Spending the Most? 

Men plan to spend more ($1,360 on average) than women ($1,028 on average), and parents plan to splurge the most – around $1,700, or $495 per child, mostly likely spent online.

Interestingly, despite reports of their staggering student debt, Millennials are also showing big increases in holiday spending this year, up 33% from 2015, to an average of $1,427. Most plan to shell out their dollars on apparel and accessories, video games and gift cards, Rubicon found.

To collect the data, the Rubicon Project used polling firm Penn Schoen Berland to conduct 1,003 interviews among holiday shoppers in the U.S. from August 23 to 25. The survey has a margin of error of 3.09%.

Rubicon’s stats aren’t the only suggestion that Americans are getting ready to spend big this holiday season.

Data from the National Retail Federation is predicting that sales in November and December, (excluding automobiles, gas and restaurant sales) will increase a solid 3.6% to $655.8 billion. The number is “significantly higher” than what it has been for the past ten years, an average of 2.5%.

“Consumers have seen steady job and income gains throughout the year, resulting in continued confidence and the greater use of credit, which bodes well for more spending throughout the holiday season,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said in a press release on the Federation’s website.

The NRF’s holiday sales forecast is based on several economic indicators including consumer credit, disposable personal income and previous monthly retail sales releases.

Getting Your Wallet Ready for the Holidays

If these numbers seem like a lot of money to you, remember, you shouldn’t feel pressured to overspend to keep up with the Joneses. It’s prudent to budget what you’re planning to spend for each person on your holiday list before heading out to do your shopping, and to have a total tally of what you plan to spend entirely for the season, with maybe a little room for leeway (but not much.)

It’s also important to budget for food and beverages. When you hit your spending limit, consider braking hard, because the last thing you need is to ring in your fabulous new year with of mountain of credit card debt. Falling into debt can also negatively affect your credit score, and a better score can net you better opportunities and loan rates for that next big purchase. (You can check two of your credit scores for free, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.)

Image: shironosov

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Wal-Marts in Wealthier Neighborhoods Are Better, Study Claims

If you shop at Wal-Mart, you probably go there because you can get some items cheaper than you can elsewhere, not necessarily because you receive outstanding customer service.

According to one new study, however, just how good or bad your customer experience is at Wal-Mart likely has more to do with the racial and economic makeup of the neighborhood in which you’re shopping than anything else, a new paper.

Per the paper, “Wal-Mart’s Consumer Redlining,” written by Columbia University Professor Adam Reich, “poor customer service is unevenly distributed across Wal-Mart stores in ways that reproduce racial and socioeconomic disadvantage. The racial composition and average income of the neighborhood in which a Wal-Mart is located is strongly associated with the kind of service customers can expect to receive there.”

Reich, an assistant professor of sociology, conducted an analysis of Yelp reviews about Wal-Mart (approximately 35,000 reviews across 2,840 stores). What he reportedly found was that Wal-Mart stores situated in low-income communities of color “consistently get lower Yelp scores than those situated in wealthier, whiter communities.

“Moreover, when I conduct a similar analysis but work to untangle race from [socioeconomic status], I find that race is more strongly related to low ratings than class.”

Erica Jones, senior manager of corporate communications for Wal-Mart, called Reich’s analysis “flawed and without merit.”

“In fact, our customer traffic and overall customer satisfaction scores have been improving and we’re focused on continuing to do better,” Jones said in an email. “Our associates play a critical role in the company’s success and that’s why we’ve invested $2.7 billion on associate education, training and wages. We’re also proud to provide communities across the country, regardless of social or economic background, access to affordable goods and career opportunities to help them better provide for their families.”

While the majority of retailers alter their stores to best serve the neighborhood in which they are located – in everything from the items stocked to the size of the store and even hours of operation – Reich’s paper argues staffing is the key factor for the service woes he noted in underserved communities.

“Wal-Mart workers understand perhaps better than anyone the obstacles to providing good customer service at the company,” Reich wrote. “In the summer of 2014 I led a team of undergraduate students that conducted interviews with 89 Walmart workers in five different regions of the country (Los Angeles, Dallas, Chicago, Cincinnati and Central Florida). In these interviews workers expressed how difficult it was to take care of their customers in the face of short staffing and poor working conditions. This was true across sites, although the difficulty seemed particularly acute for those who worked at stores in low-income communities of color.”

David Livingston, managing partner at DJL Research, who provides market analysis and competitive intelligence for retail supermarkets, said it’s important to keep in mind that Wal-Mart enters neighborhoods that other retailers won’t. He quickly notes that the store also gets tax credits and infrastructure funding to enter these low-income communities, and does so on a larger scale than most other retailers.

“All retailers redline, whether it’s pizza delivery or whatever business, there are some places you’re just not going to go because of personal safety reasons, theft, crime and it can be real and perceived,” Livingston said. “If an area is just perceived as being high crime even though it might not be, that can be reflected in the redline…One of the problems is, you have a hard time finding people that want to work in those areas.”

That means these stores end up hiring people who may be less qualified but are willing to work in that location.

“This happens from the store manager all the way down to the bottom,” Livingston continued. “You get the least qualified people into these stores, therefore the conditions end up looking much worse than a store in a more affluent area.”

For shoppers, that can mean a less enjoyable shopping experience.

Remember, no matter where you shop, it’s important not to overspend as high levels of debt can bust your budget and damage your credit score. (You can see how your spending may be affecting your credit by viewing two of your credit scores, updated every 14 days, for free on Credit.com.)

Image: snyferok

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Wal-Marts in Wealthier Neighborhoods Are Better, Study Claims

If you shop at Wal-Mart, you probably go there because you can get some items cheaper than you can elsewhere, not necessarily because you receive outstanding customer service.

According to one new study, however, just how good or bad your customer experience is at Wal-Mart likely has more to do with the racial and economic makeup of the neighborhood in which you’re shopping than anything else, a new paper.

Per the paper, “Wal-Mart’s Consumer Redlining,” written by Columbia University Professor Adam Reich, “poor customer service is unevenly distributed across Wal-Mart stores in ways that reproduce racial and socioeconomic disadvantage. The racial composition and average income of the neighborhood in which a Wal-Mart is located is strongly associated with the kind of service customers can expect to receive there.”

Reich, an assistant professor of sociology, conducted an analysis of Yelp reviews about Wal-Mart (approximately 35,000 reviews across 2,840 stores). What he reportedly found was that Wal-Mart stores situated in low-income communities of color “consistently get lower Yelp scores than those situated in wealthier, whiter communities.

“Moreover, when I conduct a similar analysis but work to untangle race from [socioeconomic status], I find that race is more strongly related to low ratings than class.”

Erica Jones, senior manager of corporate communications for Wal-Mart, called Reich’s analysis “flawed and without merit.”

“In fact, our customer traffic and overall customer satisfaction scores have been improving and we’re focused on continuing to do better,” Jones said in an email. “Our associates play a critical role in the company’s success and that’s why we’ve invested $2.7 billion on associate education, training and wages. We’re also proud to provide communities across the country, regardless of social or economic background, access to affordable goods and career opportunities to help them better provide for their families.”

While the majority of retailers alter their stores to best serve the neighborhood in which they are located – in everything from the items stocked to the size of the store and even hours of operation – Reich’s paper argues staffing is the key factor for the service woes he noted in underserved communities.

“Wal-Mart workers understand perhaps better than anyone the obstacles to providing good customer service at the company,” Reich wrote. “In the summer of 2014 I led a team of undergraduate students that conducted interviews with 89 Walmart workers in five different regions of the country (Los Angeles, Dallas, Chicago, Cincinnati and Central Florida). In these interviews workers expressed how difficult it was to take care of their customers in the face of short staffing and poor working conditions. This was true across sites, although the difficulty seemed particularly acute for those who worked at stores in low-income communities of color.”

David Livingston, managing partner at DJL Research, who provides market analysis and competitive intelligence for retail supermarkets, said it’s important to keep in mind that Wal-Mart enters neighborhoods that other retailers won’t. He quickly notes that the store also gets tax credits and infrastructure funding to enter these low-income communities, and does so on a larger scale than most other retailers.

“All retailers redline, whether it’s pizza delivery or whatever business, there are some places you’re just not going to go because of personal safety reasons, theft, crime and it can be real and perceived,” Livingston said. “If an area is just perceived as being high crime even though it might not be, that can be reflected in the redline…One of the problems is, you have a hard time finding people that want to work in those areas.”

That means these stores end up hiring people who may be less qualified but are willing to work in that location.

“This happens from the store manager all the way down to the bottom,” Livingston continued. “You get the least qualified people into these stores, therefore the conditions end up looking much worse than a store in a more affluent area.”

For shoppers, that can mean a less enjoyable shopping experience.

Remember, no matter where you shop, it’s important not to overspend as high levels of debt can bust your budget and damage your credit score. (You can see how your spending may be affecting your credit by viewing two of your credit scores, updated every 14 days, for free on Credit.com.)

Image: snyferok

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