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*(Via Sacramento Bee) – Online shopping has become as volatile as stock market trading. Wild, minute-by-minute price swings on everything from clothes to TVs have made it difficult for holiday shoppers to “buy low.”

A growing number of retailers are using software that changes online prices based on demand, competition, inventory and other factors. The main goal is to undercut rivals when necessary, and raise prices when demand is high and there’s no competitive pressure.

But the new online tools can change the price on a single item — say, a sweater — dozens of times throughout the day. And that can leave shoppers confused about when they can get the best deal.

Take Aishia Senior, who recently watched the price on a coat she wanted rise and fall several times between $110 and $139 in a span of six hours on Amazon.com. She was so frustrated by the price fluctuations that she ended up not buying the coat on the site at all.

“It’s definitely annoying,” said Senior, who lives in New Haven, Connecticut. “What exactly is making it go up and down?”

Read more of this AP report at SacBee.