Shopping Tip: Beware of the Double Discount

We’ve recently became aware of a retail sales strategy, where an items(s) are labeled as “xx% off with an additional xx% off”. In theory, the double discount is a very good thing. However, in practice you do have to be careful not the simply add the two percentages together to come up with the discount.

30% off + an additional 30% off doesn’t equal 60% off. It equals 51% off (30% off $100 is $70, the second 30% of taken off of $70, which is $49 – not 40, which would be the case if it was 60% off)

But since our brains like to make things easier, we think it’s the lower number $40 off. So how do we get around this? Well, we figured out a mathematical way to figure out the true discount (cause who says that fashionistas can’t be great at math). It’s kinda of clunky, but an added benefit is that doing the math gives a second to think about your purchase.

How to Figure Out Your Double Discount
1. Add the two percents together (ex: 40% + 40%= 80%)
2. Put a decimal point between the numbers in each percent and multiple the single numbers together (ex: 4 x 4= 16)
3. Subtract that number from the sum of the first two percentages (ex: 80- 16= 64% is your discount)

For those of you less mathematically inclined (or just lazy)- just use the calculator on your cellphone. Remember that the second percent off is taken on the amount left AFTER the first percent is taken off.

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  1. Jeanne says

    You CAN’T believe there are people who add the % off! No one is that dim. Plus, the idea that people need to be warned that they’re only getting 51% off (as opposed to 60%)- is hardly warning. Who isn’t happy to get 51% off? That’s no warning, that’s enticing. And no American past the 8th grade would think it was 60% off.

  2. Marian Librarian says

    Yeah, I’ve known about that trick for a long time. I used to work in retail jewelry–they do it all the time.

  3. says

    Jeanne, you must not live in the same America.
    Many people just don’t get it.

    Thanks for the post – I was trying to remember the short-hand way of figuring out the percentages the other day and here it is! :]

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