Holiday shopping season means many things: giving, receiving, long lines and fluctuating prices.
The market value of any particular purchase can change within mere hours.
It can be frustrating to buy something at full price one day only to find it half off the next - or maybe 70 percent off in this final shopping weekend before Christmas.
But, if you pay attention, you can still benefit from the lower price.
Some stores offer price adjustment policies, meaning they refund the difference between the higher price and the sale price of an item.
If a price adjustment policy is not advertised or listed on a store website, ask the store manager.
The lower price must be in effect when the price adjustment is asked for.
If a store does not adjust prices, you can give yourself the adjustment with a little leg work: Look at the store's return policy and if the date on your receipt falls within the store's return timeframe, get a full refund on the item, and purchase the lower priced one.
Price adjustment, return and price match policies vary from store to store.
We looked into the policies of several major retailers in Tucson to take the guesswork out of it.
Price adjustment policies
These are in-store policies only. Online purchases may have different policies.
Price match policy: Competitors' prices will be price matched on identical items. Bring in the competitor's current ad.
Price adjustment policy: Price adjustments will be honored within the return/exchange period, which varies by product. The lower price must be in effect to request a price adjustment.
Return policy: Gift purchases made between Nov. 4 and Dec. 24 can be returned through Jan. 24, 2013. The original receipt, gift receipt or packing slip is required for all returns and exchanges.
Price match policy: Dillard's does not match prices or make price adjustments.
Return policy: Merchandise must be returned within 30 days of purchase. It must be in its original unused condition unless there is a manufacturer's defect and must be accompanied by a receipt or the original Dillard's proof of purchase label.
Price match policy: If you see a lower price on an identical item at any other local store within 14 days, Macy's will match the price unless it is a club store where you pay dues to shop. Prices will not be matched on fees, closeouts, special order merchandise or online retailers.
Price adjustment policy: If an item's price is reduced further within 14 days of purchase, the price difference will be refunded if original receipt is presented.
Prices may vary between stores and macys.com.
Return policy: Macy's accepts returns for a full refund in original form of payment, regardless of original purchase date. If you have no proof of purchase, such as a receipt, you can receive store credit for the item's lowest selling price within the last 180 days.
Price match policy: Target will match competitors' prices on identical item with a competitor's advertisement. The retail price must be shown in the ad and valid the day the price match is requested. The original Target receipt must be brought in when requesting the price match by Dec. 24.
Price adjustment policy: Bring in proof of the current lower price and Target will match that price at the guest service desk. Price match and adjustments for prices offered Nov. 22-24 are excluded.
Return policy: Most unopened items in new condition will receive a refund or exchange if returned within 90 days of purchase. Some items have a modified return policy that is less than 90 days. Those items will show a "return by" date under the item on the receipt.
Toys R Us
Price match policy: Prices will be matched on all competitor stores' advertised prices on identical items. Price match is given at the time of purchase with competitor ad.
Price adjustment policy: Customers have seven days to bring in a purchased item and get a price adjustment if they find a lower price published elsewhere.
Return policy: Toys R Us accepts returns for a full refund in the original form of payment within 90 days of the purchase date for most items when accompanied with your receipt.
Price match policy: Walmart matches prices on buy-one-get- one-free ads with a specified price, competitors' ads featuring an item for a specific price, or for preferred shopping card prices for specific items printed in an ad. Customers do not need to have the ad with them. Price match is done at the register.
Price adjustment policy: If an item's price is reduced further within seven days of purchase, the price difference will be refunded if original receipt is presented.
Return policy: Walmart accepts returns for a full refund within 90 days of purchase. Some items have a limited return/exchange period. For those items purchased between Nov. 1 and Dec. 24, the limited return period will begin Dec. 26. Customers do not need a receipt to return an item. They will have the option of a cash refund for items under $25, a shopping card for amounts over $25 or an even exchange for the product.
Star reporter Angela Pittenger, our "Centsible Mom," shares tips, ideas and news about how Tucson consumers can find value and stretch their budgets. Send suggestions, ideas or questions to her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-4137.