Your Lowly Penny Can Actually Buy Something

Retailers lure back to school shoppers with 1¢ gimmick
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 19, 2009 1:51 PM CDT
Signs mark back-to-school sales at The Shoe Dept. store in Berlin, Vt., Tuesday, July 29, 2008.   (AP Photo/Toby Talbot)
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(Newser) – Retailers, scrambling to connect with the fragile consumer psyche, have turned to the lowly penny for a boost, offering everything from clothing to crayons for a single cent, the LA Times reports. Nearly taken out of circulation three years ago, the penny may be a lousy coin, but it’s a great gimmick, analysts say. “Buy one, get one free has been around so long it doesn’t even make a noise,” explains one. “Buy one, get one for a penny feels like a deal.”

Staples and OfficeMax, which rely heavily on back-to-school season, have both offered weekly penny deals on standard classroom supplies. CVS, meanwhile, is selling supplies for a dollar, and Wal-Mart is running ads boasting “50% lower prices than national office-supply superstores.” “Retailers are trying to stimulate demand,” says one consultant. “This is about getting people in the store.”