CBSN

Price matching: Watch the fine print

Retailers are offering some amazing deals this holiday shopping season, especially in the form of price matching. Walmart, Target, Sears, Staples and Bed, Bath and Beyond are just some of the retailers getting in on the price incentives act.

But what's in the fine print?

Carmen Wong Ulrich, personal finance expert and author of "The Real Cost of Living" said on "The Early Show" that some retailers exclude Internet prices in their price matching, while others, such as Walmart, have restrictions on returns.

For instance, she said, Walmart will give you a gift card if you return an item, rather than money back or a credit on your credit card. That way, she added, "You have to come back and spend your money," she said.

But some of the fine print does help consumers, Wong Ulrich noted. Walmart and Target, she said, don't need to see the item -- just the receipt -- to do a price-match. And other retailers, such as Bed, Bath and Beyond will match prices quoted by online retailers.

However, one retailer is one-upping the others. Sears, Wong Ulrich said, will give you 10 percent of the difference on top of the price-match.

What about layaway?

Wong Ulrich said the argument against layaway is often that you're locking in the top price. However, Walmart, she said, will price-match with layaway purchases, as well.

So, will these incentives bring customers back into stores after years of retail distress?

Wong Ulrich said, "We are still in a time when folks are saying, 'I don't want to spend as much money or more money during the holidays.'"

Wong Ulrich pointed to a survey by Accenture PLC, a consulting company, in which 88 percent of Americans said they're going to spend the same as last year or less.