ONLY ON: Stay ahead of pricing hikes - Tucson News Now

ONLY ON: Stay ahead of pricing hikes

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

It used to be only hotels and airlines changed their prices several times a day. But, Tucson News Now found online retailers who sell common household items are also making adjustments throughout the day, especially for appliances and electronics.

Stores competing for your business are duking it out online. So how can you get the best deal in this retail price war?

While shopping online recently, Amy Shoaff noticed prices for the same item, on the same website changed substantially throughout the day.

"General everyday items fluctuating anywhere from $40 to $300," she said. 

Amy discovered a growing new trend. Some retailers are changing their online prices hour by hour, and sometimes even minute by minute!

The goal is to have a product priced so it pops up as the lowest priced item in shopping search engines, or Amazon's coveted "buy box". That's where most consumers look to find the best deals.

"It's more a battle of getting the right screen position as opposed to trying to sell it as quickly as possible," said Chris Buckingham, with Professional Pricing Society.

Tucson News Now worked with decide.com to monitor prices of several items on a well known shopping website.

First was an iPad. At midnight the iPad was $511 and at 6 a.m. it was $503.  But, by 7 a.m. the price sunk to $475, where it remained until 2:30 p.m. and then jumped to $510. At 10 p.m. that same day, the iPad increased to a high of $529. That's a total of a $54 price difference, on the same site, all in one 24-hour period.

"The suppliers are constantly monitoring each other," Buckingham said. 

Decide.com's tracking software found the price of colored pencils ranged from a high of $3.32 to $2.22 over a 24-hour period.

And for duct tape, in one day the price ranged from a high of $7.83 to a low of $2.00.

"What has changed fundamentally in the past 12 months is the speed and scale at which prices are being set," said Eric Best. 

Some retailers hire software companies, such as Mercent, to monitor the prices of its products and make changes based on its competitors.

"Because consumers now are researching their offline and online purchases in advance more than 50% of the time," said Best, who works for Mercent. 

There are websites which will monitor prices for items you want and alert you when the price drops, or reaches an amount you'd be willing to pay.

If you add an item to your Amazon shopping cart and leave it there, Amazon will notify you of price changes.

Amy has a warning about clicking on the least expensive deal found on search engines, though.

"Free shipping, returns, make sure you're using those things to your advantage because sometimes just price isn't always the cheapest," she said. 

So, which product's prices fluctuate most?

Decide.com says: electronics, appliances, clothing, shoes, jewelry and even household staples, like dust pans. 

Some experts suggest if you ordered something from a retailer and the price dropped within a reasonable amount of time, contact the business and see if they'll refund you the difference.

What are your tips for finding good deals? share them with us when you find this story on our Facebook page!

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