Aren’t Sale Prices Supposed to Go Down?

I received great feedback from you on my post, Price Discrimination at Our Favorite Retailers.  As an economist with an interest in fashion, this blog and all of you who continue to read have granted me a platform to blend my two passions.

I am working on a follow-up piece on price discrimination, which will be coming soon.  In the meantime, though, I wanted to share a pricing anomaly that I have noticed.  Actually, one commenter on the price discrimination post expressed frustration over a related pricing anomaly, namely the practice of making meager markdowns (sometimes less than $1) and advertising those price cuts as grand sales.  If you think that practice is problematic, then what the is doing now might offend your sensibilities.

Many of the Gap’s sale prices (those that appear in red next to the original prices that are crossed out) exceed the listed retail prices.  What?  Aren’t sale prices supposed to reflect a discount?

I love the GapBodyFit pants and always browse the online store to check for markdowns.  When I checked the prices this morning, I got excited because I saw lots of “markdowns” highlighted in red.  After a closer look, however, I noticed that many of the sale prices exceeded the original retail prices of the pants.

I was certain that the Gap made a mistake, so I added the capris pants (originally $44.50, but on sale for $49.95) to my cart assuming that a correction would be made when I tried to purchase them.  The same above-retail price showed up in my cart at checkout!

Odd, right?  Have you noticed any strange pricing practices in the market?  Let us know!

*Update*6-8-2011*  It appears that the prices above were shown as “sale prices” in error.  The higher prices, however, are actually correct.  The Gap has increased the prices on several basic items.  The capris pants above that used to retail for $44.50 now cost $49.95.



  1. June 7, 2011 / 7:53 pm

    Ha! That is hilarious. These retailers must think we will really fall for anything.

  2. June 8, 2011 / 9:51 am

    This is surreal…. As the previous comments I also think that maybe there still are people victims of that.


  3. June 8, 2011 / 10:58 am

    Ha! Methinks it is a bug in the software more than Gap trying to rip us off. I would email them and let them know.

  4. June 8, 2011 / 1:17 pm

    @K.Rock: Odd, right?

    @J'adore Fashion: So true! From the supermarkets to the clothing stores, price errors are common.

    @The Seeker: Yes, too often.

    @Kristen: I did hear from someone who works for the Gap. The glitch (now corrected btw) is that the price was showing as a sale price. Apparently, several items at the Gap now have increased prices. The price on the GapBodyFit pants have been increased. So, the new price is really $49.95 (used to be $44.50) on the capris pants I showed.

  5. June 10, 2011 / 3:13 am

    Yea um you gotta be kidding on that? No one wants to see a scratched up mark up?? Who does the Gap think they are!? Well I worked at Express and they do something similar except they don't scratch it out!! If an item is selling really hot, they mark up the price over night sometimes by ten dollars. In the morning we sometimes had to resticker hot items with the new price. Isn't that crazy?

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