What You Need To Know To Win At After-Christmas Sales
Once it’s time to pack up the holiday décor, retailers are looking to move as much merchandise as quickly as possible to make room for Resort and Spring lines, which are already on order. This isn’t limited to apparel; your favorite home departments and retailers want to reveal a fresh look too, especially after what is now months of Christmas decorations, darker, heavier looks, and extreme pine-, cinnamon-, and pumpkin-scented everything. Enter the post-holiday clearance sale: your chance to snag brag-worthy deals for a fraction of the original price.
Changes in the retail landscape have encouraged stores to keep up with a sale-savvy shopper. Nordstrom, for instance, has taken out the longtime Half-Yearly sale, the men’s version of which used to commence on December 26th, and has transitioned to a more inclusive clearance event, with discounts appearing throughout the store rather than being limited just to the men’s departments. Other high-end retailers like Bloomingdale’s and Neiman Marcus often layer discounts to customers on prime shopping days (frequently during select times of day).
This is also the perfect time to stock up on your décor for next year. Snatch up those Radkos and other delicate glass ornaments you’ve been eyeing, now at half price, and update your tree skirt, garland, and even holiday candles, now. Add to any collections you might have (the decorative Santa population always swells at my house post-Christmas) without breaking the bank. Even the beautiful artificial trees and other holiday department décor are often available for a phenomenal price, so if you can wait until after Christmas to get these, it’s definitely worth it. Bonus: next year will really feel like Christmas when you unpack all of these brand-new decorations for the first time!
While time is of the essence when you’re out there with the masses, remember that your phone is your friend, and taking the time to double check prices will ensure you get the best deal. Apps like ShopSavvy, RedLaser and yes, good old Amazon, allow you to scan barcodes to view price comparisons, see customer reviews, and more, so head to the mall with a full charge.
Full disclosure – I love Black Friday and Day-after-Christmas-shopping almost as much as the holidays themselves. While so many (including those in my own house) are still sleeping off the wine and tryptophan from the previous day’s festivities, I’m heading to the mall to scoop up some brag-worthy deals on all the things I didn’t find under the tree, or didn’t want to leave to chance in the first place. There’s even a parking spot that I’ve come to consider “mine” on these particular days. Years of experience have made me an expert of sorts, and my retail conquests have been pretty considerable, from Bruno Magli to Burberry, Joie to J. Crew, Crate & Barrel to Cartier. Here’s a complete list of my “do’s and don’ts” to help make your post-holiday shopping just as seamless and rewarding:
DO register with your favorite stores online. This will ensure you receive any emails with preferred customer incentives and advance notifications with sale details. Don’t forget to check your inbox before you head out the door.
DO start early. The best stuff goes fast, the parking lot is much less daunting, and many stores offer additional doorbuster discounts, special buys and gifts with purchase that won’t last all day.
DO check opening times for the stores you plan to visit. Not all stores will open at the same time; you don’t want to end up walking circles in the only open store waiting for all your other faves to unlock their doors.
DO make a list. Did you really come all this way to only forget the new roasting pan you’ve been waiting all year to buy?
DO confirm the return policy before you buy. Many stores are selling things as a final sale right now, so make sure it will work before you pull the trigger unless you’re OK with eBay as your Plan B.
DO consolidate your purchases in as few bags as possible. You’ll have less to keep track of, and it will be way easier to navigate the crush of shoppers and tight sale racks if you’re not carrying umpteen shopping bags. So practice these words: “No bag please.”
Bonus points for bringing your own bag.
DO dress for the occasion and stay hydrated. This can be a marathon, not a race, so dress in layers (the stores can get hot when they start getting crowded), wear comfortable shoes, and bring a bottle of water. The line at Starbucks will not get shorter as the day goes on, I promise.
DON’T put something away to “think about it” if you really like it. If it’s good, it won’t last.
DON’T be afraid to ask a salesperson for a price check if you see something you like. In the bedlam of holiday shopping, items are often missed during markdowns. There’s a good chance that the price is even lower than what the tag indicates, which will likely make the “buy or don’t buy” decision even easier.
DON’T ask a salesperson to call another store in search of an item. It’s just too busy. If they don’t refuse outright, the best you’ll likely get will go something like this: “Hold on, let me check for you – (momentary pause, with or without eye roll) – Sorry, no luck.”
DON’T use this trip to make your returns. Most stores extend their return policy period during the holidays so there’s no rush to make that return on one of the busiest shopping days of the year. And, if you don’t have your receipt, stores will often give you the current price on your return, which is likely way lower than what you paid, so take the time to find your receipt and come back later. Even if you do have your receipt, the salespeople – and the scores of people in line behind you – will thank you to take care of it during a less chaotic time.
DON’T take trips to your car throughout the day to unload. It’s dangerous, it’s annoying to the people following you in their car thinking they scored a parking spot, and it’s unnecessary. Many stores will hold your large or heavy purchases for you to come pick up at the end of your shopping day, and better retailers will assist you to your car if you ask.
DON’T skip the luxury retailers even if they’re not having a “sale.” Many luxury brands have a fixed annual price increase, often in the spring, so buying now is effectively like buying on sale. Plus, the extra attention and service (Cold bottled water! A chair!) you receive at these spots is a welcome respite from the mayhem just outside.