Our letterboxes are flooded with flyers before a holiday weekend and newspapers do a good trade in retail adverts.

But do you really get a bargain at Easter, Boxing Day, Mother's Day and Labour Weekend sales? The answer is "yes" and "no", according to Associate Professor Valentyna Melnyk of Massey University, who studies consumer behaviour.

Consumers in New Zealand have come to expect the seasonal sale weekends and they have become a self-fulfilling prophecy, says Melnyk. If a retailer opts out, the opposition will get the business.

On the other hand, not all of those big flashy adverts will be never-to-be-repeated bargains. Some won't even be bargains.


Retailers hope the flashy adverts will make you assume that the product is a bargain. I noticed one shop last week promoting the Navman EZY200 as a best buy of the week.
A quick look on PriceMe.co.nz and I discovered the price on offer wasn't the best on the market at all.

Retailers have a whole list of little cons they use to entice us to buy things.
Their flyers are designed to lure us into the store because we think there will be lots of bargains, even if we don't buy the best-priced advertised item, says Melnyk.

Not only that, if we've invested the time to go Easter or Boxing Day shopping we don't want to come home empty-handed.

The moral of that tale is consumers should shop around and check out the likes of PriceMe.co.nz and PriceSpy.co.nz before committing to buy that television or washing machine this weekend.

A quick perusal of the Easter weekend advertisements has though turned up some bargains. For example, Kathmandu has Altica 100 fleeces at $39.98. Any shopper who bought them at the full price of $139.99 is crazy. Nonetheless, this deal is pretty sharp.
Melnyk says big retailers such as Kathmandu do deals with suppliers to supply cheaper goods for the sales. They also sell last year's stock to get rid of it.

If you're not one of those people who has to have the latest model, there are some great deals on last year's car stereos at Supercheap Auto this weekend.

Another Easter sale that caught my eye was Warehouse Stationery's "Rip us off!" sale, which gives 40, 30, 20 or 15 per cent off certain departments. I really love sales that allow you to choose any item from one department (or the entire store) - meaning you can buy rarely reduced items at a decent price.

Brownie points need to go to Camera & Camera this weekend for a little asterisk in its advert. Usually asterisks are shorthand for "excluding the item you actually want to buy". But in this case it said, "includes DSLR and Coolpix". So that meant it was offering 10 per cent off all the best Nikon cameras, not just the ones the shop needed to clear.

More deals

• LoneStar restaurants have no public holiday surcharge this weekend. Check out Lonestargrabameal.co.nz for daily deals over Easter.

Sony's New Zealand Outlet Store has the KDL46EX720 46-inch Bravia TV for $1359.95, which is $50 less than the price at high-street stores and even parallel importers this week. See Outlet.

Bond and Bond's closing-down sale ends tomorrow.

• Watch out for discounted Easter eggs from Sunday onwards.