Some advice and guidance based on my relocation move to the USA in September 2003. Part 7 - Learning to Shop
The final point to mention to ease the transition to the USA is to understand how to shop!
US stores are much more oriented around seasonal sales and special deals than stores anywhere else that I have encountered, and you need to be aware of that before making any purchase.
There are specific times of the year when specific items are "On Sale" (ie "price reduced"), and you need to get to understand those cycles and try to hold off purchases until those times. Memorial Day, Labor Day and Thanksgiving holidays are good times for big sales, although they also happen surprisingly regularly throughout the year too.
One difference between Sales in the USA compared to the UK is that price reductions will be both large and real -- and not just confined to a very small selection of "traffic builder" items like in the UK.
It is not uncommon to have sales offering "50% off all men's shirts and trousers" or "Buy-one, get-one half price on any shoes" for example -- That is the time to buy those items!
A good practice to aim for (although not always possible) is:
Do not buy something unless it is reduced in a sale!
Also, a similar principle applies to food shopping too. Use supermarket discount cards and coupons as much as you can because they give real, big savings. Look around for which brands are on sale this week, and buy those. For example, we usually find one of several brands of OJ are on sale each week, so if you are flexible you can typically save 30%+ for that item compared to retail price of the brands not on sale. When a brand of cereal is buy-one, get-one-free, then buy 2 and take home 4 to make up for next time when you will have to pay full price.
A final consideration is product availability in stores. Items are incredibly seasonal in the US, and only stocked by stores at certain times of the year. There is a very established and predictable cycle to this once you recognize and learn it.
For example, fashion swimming costumes are likely only be in stores in the spring, so if your wife need a new bikini for a winter vacation in the Caribbean then it will largely be impossible to find one in the stores in November or December.
You need to expect to re-learn and update many of your existing purchasing skills to fully adapt to the USA.
Mastering the US retail sales cycle will save you a huge amount of money, and is an important secret to maximizing the cash flow of US life.
Experiences Relocating to the USA from the UK
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