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As someone who works in a retail store and also does most of the shopping for my family, I have a tip for those of you who are too shy to directly ask clerks for a discount at the checkout counter (besides, my store doesn't have ANYONE in authority - even the manager - to randomly hand out discounts).
If you see an item in a store (and don't need it immediately), ask the clerk when it will go on sale. Many employees know of upcoming sales and what items will be included. Then go home, mark the name of the item and the sale date on your calendar, and return to the store at that time (or save yourself a trip and call the store first). Our store has semi-annual sales that offer the absolute lowest prices on our items. Depending on when you ask the big sale may be next week or five months away. Regardless, you'll have some useful information. The downside to this approach is that the exact item you want - a certain color, or size, or design, etc. may be sold out by the time a sale rolls around. For example, I wouldn't recommend this approach if you're purchasing a fancy evening gown that you need to wear the following weekend. But many items can mentally be put "on hold" for purchase at a later date.