Skip to Content

9 Tips To Save Money At Department Stores

​Don’t sleep on department stores. You can get some of the best deals there — as long as you follow these Tips To Save Money At Department Stores.

For more help stretching your budget, check out all of our frugal posts.

A woman walking down a sidewalk with shops to her right side and the words "Tips To Save Money At Department Stores" digitally written above her.

It’s easy to coupon at grocery stores. We all know how. You buy the newspaper, clip coupons, make a list that matches up with your cash back apps, and head to the store to buy what you need. Simple. Saving money while shopping at the mall and department stores is a completely different game.

It’s possible, but it’s definitely a different way of shopping.

We have some great tips to help you save money while shopping at department stores, which will definitely help you upgrade your home, fill your gift closet, and more without paying retail.

Just listen to us and apply some or all of these tips, which have really helped me save so much money in the long run. I’m being honest too. I never feel the money crunch at Christmas because I follow all these tips, store items in our gift closet year round, and feel better about what we end up spending on Christmas and birthday gifts.

A phone open to apps with the words "Top 10 Cash Back Apps To Save On Everything" digitally written on top.

One of our tips to save money is using cash back apps. Those are good idea for all of your shopping.

If you’re not familiar with them, check out our Top 10 Cash Back Apps To Save You Money On Everything.

Tips To Save Money At Department Stores

Affiliate links are included in this post and Drugstore Divas may make a small commission if you use them.

Quick note: We refer to department stores in this post. But, these tips can carry over to any retail store, discount stores, or outlet stores.

Know your price points

Before you go shopping, have a price in mind. And don’t spend more than that.

A few years ago, Pete needed a wrench. I happened to be in the mall with my dad, so I went to Sears to look at wrenches. But, I had no idea what a good price for a wrench was. So I waited until my dad got in the store to ask him. He looked at the ones Sears offered, then let me know I could get a better deal at Harbor Freight Tools.

Harbor Freight Tools also always has coupons on its website, so I could get a better price and then some extra savings.

If you know what you want to spend or rather, what you should spend on a specific item, you won’t overpay for it when you do purchase it.

A coupon from Bath And Body Works.

Check your mailbox for coupons.

I often get coupons for JCPenney in the mail. Within the flyer comes a $10 off $10 coupon. That’s great. I’ve gotten a lot of t-shirts and home items for next to nothing with that coupon.

And Bath & Body Works absolutely loves sending home mailers with free body care item coupons. If you pick those up every time you get a coupon (and keep tunnel vision, don’t get distracted by the delicious smells in the store, and get nothing else), you’d actually have a bunch of items to give to a friend or your child’s teacher for a Christmas gift. And it will have cost you nothing.

Other stores also send out coupons very frequently. I feel like every time I’m getting my mom’s mail, she has another coupon from Kohl’s in there. Those coupons range in value, so she waits until they send her a 30% off coupon before she goes shopping.

If you can combine those store coupons with sales or use them towards clearance items, you can save a lot of money. And, they’ll make you realize that you should never pay the retail price for anything at a department store. There’s always a coupon coming.

A woman sitting at a desk, using a laptop.

Check your email for coupons and deals.

If you sign up for the email list of many stores, you’ll get emails with coupons and special deals, free shipping offers, and more. Yes, signing up for a ton of newsletters is annoying and can clog up your inbox. So, you should make a second email just for mailing lists. Keep it separate from your regular email so you can keep them organized.

Also, keep track of when certain stores send out good coupons.

Take Big Lots, for example. If Big Lots is going to send out an offer for a weekend freebie, the email is always going to be sent on a Thursday. So, if you need to go shopping at or near Big Lots, wait until Thursday. See if the email comes out. That way, you can pick up your freebie at the same time.

​World Market does this too, except it sends its free item emails on Saturday morning.

Of course, it’s not guaranteed that the store will send out a free item coupon, but it’s worth checking for.

Three shelves of plaid shirts with a $6 price tag above them in a local Walmart.

Take advantage of special discounts.

Often, stores will have special sales going on, like early bird and night owl sales or one day sales, where you can get a lower price if you shop on a specific days or at a certain time. You might hear these advertised on the radio, on TV, or in an email. If you see something you’ve been waiting for on sale, that’s the time to pick it up.

Black Friday used to be the best time to find these sales, but that’s not the case anymore. Big box stores are looking for a constant stream of income now, not just a nice bump in Q4. So, you’ll see these types of blowout sales happening at least once every quarter now. Which is better for us because it’s not just winter gear that gets all the great details.

Random summer items on a shelf with a large yellow clearance sign advertising 75% off in front.

Shop the back of the store.

The front of the store is usually where the new items are so they lure you into the store when you’re walking by. The sale items and clearance racks are kept in the back of the store. Stores want you to walk past all the regular price items on the way to the sale items in hopes you end up falling in love with something and paying full price for it.

If you’re on a budget, keep your eyes focused on the back of the store, you’ll always find a good deal.

And, if you’re shopping for clothing, stores are usually a season ahead. So the clothing in the clearance section in the back of the store, the ones with the discount price, are usually the clothes for that season anyway.

Seasonal items are usually kept in the back of the store too, because the stores are already on the next season. So, keep that in mind if you’re shopping for a specific items and can’t find them in your store. Sure, you want a St. Patrick’s Day decoration in early March, but stores like Hobby Lobby want you to be thinking about Memorial Day.

Sign up for loyalty programs.

Once a store has your business, it wants to keep your business. That’s why it offers a loyalty program. It’s a great way to get you to spend more money in a store.

It used to be that drugstores, like CVS and Walgreens, were the main types of stores that had rewards programs that gave a percentage back for every dollar you spent in store. But, department stores, everything from Hallmark to Old Navy, are offering a free program for members to earn now.

Some loyalty programs will offer you cash back and some will require that you’re a part of them in order to get a discounted price on an item. So keep that in mind.

But still, comparison shop. If you’re looking at an item, and it’s cheaper at one store than another, by all means buy it at the lower price. But, if it’s the same price at two stores, and you get a percentage back at one store, buy it at that one.

A mobile phone open to the Shopkick app.

Use a cash back app.

Ibotta is one of my favorite apps. You sign up and can get cash back on certain purchases. Many people know this works at grocery stores, but there are also department store offers as well. If you can pair a cash back offer with a sale, you’ll be saving a ton.

But wait, there’s more.

There are other cash back apps, like Fetch and Microsoft Start, where you get points for snapping a photo of any receipt. Fetch even allows you to snap photos of receipts that are $0.00 as the total, so that makes every purchase a money maker. Those points can be redeemed for gift cards. And a lot of the gift card options are for department stores.

So, if you already know you’re going to Kohl’s to go Christmas shopping because you have a 30% off coupon, redeem a Kohl’s gift card via the Microsoft Start app. That’ll help you get some really great deals on those Christmas items.

Shop online.

Sometimes, an item has lower online prices than the in-store price. Which is so annoying to me (because this just happened with me on a shopping trip at Walmart … which I found out after I had already driven to the store), but it is what it is. Plus, many stores have online coupons that are not valid in store. A quick Google search can find them.

So, your best way to get the lowest price is to do some online shopping, but pickup in store so that you can avoid shipping charges.

But wait. Again. There’s more.

When you shop online, you want to shop through a site like Rakuten or TopCashBack. Those sites give you a percentage of your online purchases back in cash (yes, real money!), and you can get paid when you hit a certain threshold. It’s not really any extra effort on your part and can definitely add up — especially on big purchases, which people usually make at department stores.

Consider store credit card.

I’m not a huge supporter of credit cards. I have one and Pete has one and that’s that. But if you have a favorite store, and that favorite store has a credit card, you might want to sign up.

Many department stores offer you a discount when you sign up for the card, and then discounts on exclusive shopping nights.

As long as you pay off your credit card in full every month, this could be a great way for you to save.

What other tips do you have to save money while shopping at department stores? Let us know in the comments so we can add the to the post.