How To Shop The Sale Rack With Confidence

July 29, 2009

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If you haven’t figured it out already, there are mind-blowing sales going on right now! Part of the reason is stores need to make room for their first shipment of Fall merchandise – but let’s face it…they also need to move their goods because times are still really tough for so many retailers and they need the money. It is important to note that much of the Spring/Summer merchandise was ordered by store buyers prior to the credit crunch. Gauging the drastic reduction in consumer spending habits was challenging for anyone to foresee and so our favorite stores have discounted their merchandise to unprecedented low prices!

There may still be frequent sales during the Fall months this year, however, the selection of goods will be limited and the quantity of items on hand will be greatly reduced in comparison to previous years. It will be quite different than what we have become accustomed to. Buyers were more confident of their numbers in past years by the time Fall fashion orders needed to be placed, but now they are unsure and so are cautiously ordering less rather than more. So, I would highly recommend participating in this rare but opportune time to buy apparel and accessories as long as these items add value to your LifeSTYLE. Here are 5 tips to help you tackle that sales rack with confidence:

FOCUS

I have found it very worthwhile to take a moment before I seek out deals-and-steals at the stores to step back and really think about which pieces (if any) I am lacking in my current seasonal wardrobe. This open slot/gap could be an item that is absent all together from my closet, an item that would be a good idea to update, or even a trend that I just really want to wear. Now I have determined a purpose to shop. This step will ultimately save me time and money, both of which are valuable resources for us all. But before I hit the stores or wander the web, I make sure I follow my next tip.

RESEARCH

Arm yourself with a little research before you leave the house (or before you respond to the email SALE! SALE! SALE!). Let’s say I have decided that I really need (okay, maybe want!) a new pair of platform sandals to carry me through the rest of this summer. I want them to have a modern yet classic design element that will give me mileage with my outfits next spring and summer as well. Doing a quick 10-minutes of research will save you time and money. Here’s how! Simply think of the best place to get the item(s) you are looking for and either do a fast search by going directly to one of your favorite trusted online retail sites or do a broad search on your preferred search engine. For instance, to find my comfortable contemporary platform sandals at a reduced price, I might first check out the online sale section at Neiman Marcus or Saks Fifth Avenue and then do a fast stock and price comparison with online vendor Zappos, followed up by a browse on eBay. If I am unable to find what I am specifically looking for or if I am not finding a desirable price at those sites, my next step would be to do a speedy broad Google search or go to other shopping search engines like Shopzilla to see if I can locate what I am looking for within my budget. This will give me a general idea of selection and price points.

Another tried and true approach is to directly call a favorite boutique or retail chain store to see if they have what I am looking for in stock and do they have any special promotions going on before I get on the road. After a little practice this research step can be done very quickly and will save you time and money, plus get you immediate results or lead you in the right direction. So now you are an informed shopper and much more confident of making a wise purchase.

EXPERIMENT OUTSIDE YOUR COMFORT ZONE

There are so many quality goods on sale right now, this could be the ideal time for you to experiment with brands that were previously beyond your budget or explore flattering modern styles that you may have shied away from.

By the way, I am a strong believer in the credo that it is better budget/investment management to stock your wardrobe with fewer quality goods that are current and fit flawlessly than having a closet full of inexpensive looking, ill-fitting, uncomfortable goods. That doesn’t mean that one can’t occasionally find full-priced lower cost quality apparel or accessories or that all high-priced designer goods meet the same quality standards, but I find that too many people immediately overlook designer items because they mistakenly assume they are unreasonably priced. Or that pricing might limit the shopper’s ability to pack her closet. That is just not the case in these current economic conditions! So my point is…now is a rare and fun chance to experiment. Still focus and hone in on the specific pieces that you were looking for, but remain open to try new things too. Check out stores, brands or sale sections that you may not have allowed yourself to do before.

DOUBT MEANS DON’T

A major tip to help you tackle the sales rack with confidence is to adopt the motto “Doubt means don’t”. I once heard Oprah utter that phrase when she was telling her story of indecision in taking on a project she really didn’t have time for but felt compelled to take on. I adapted this motto to my shopping experience, especially when it came to sales shopping. So, if I have any doubt about whether a particular silhouette is right for me or whether I need another pair of platform sandals even if they are gorgeous, fit wonderfully, and are at an obscenely low price; I stop and remind myself that “Doubt means don’t”. I would be better off to walk away and save my money towards a future purchase. Trust me, there will only be a few occasions (if any) that you look back and think, “Why didn’t I buy THAT when I had the chance?” On the other hand, there will be plenty of occasions when you will experience ‘shoppers’ regret,’ having ignored your doubt and made an unwise purchase. The reality is that there are and will be plenty of beautiful items to choose from in the future that will add even more value to your personal presentation. So, if there is any hesitation with a purchase then put it down and walk away – there will be better options for you ahead.

HAVE FUN

Whether you have the financial means right now or not, let yourself do a little online window shopping and check out the incredible sales right now. Shopping should be fun! It doesn’t mean that you have to actually buy something to enjoy the experience. Go with some friends and support them in making wise shopping choices or scan the stores and observe the current style trends, the actual deals that are possible, and get a better idea of those pieces that you would like to include in your wardrobe when it does fit into your spending plan. Of course, it is always exhilarating to find the perfect item at the perfect price, especially when you didn’t expect to!

So you can see that with a little planning ahead, it is much easier to avoid getting caught up in a sale frenzy, be easily persuaded by others, or even forgo a smart purchase because you got overwhelmed by the experience. Just a few minutes to figure out what specifically you need or want and to research the goods at the best price will lead you to feel successful and confident as a sales shopper. Plus you’ve had fun and maybe even experimented with new shapes and brands that you previously only admired from afar! Just remember to take your doubts seriously, saving your money for even better options in the near future.

It has been suggested that ‘if something is on sale then that means no one wanted it in the first place.’ That is just not the case – especially right now! Economic challenges, fear, feeling overwhelmed, or not knowing the best way to wear a piece are more accurate explanations these days. Some of my most favored and value-added wardrobe pieces, I have found on sale. Hopefully, these tips will empower you to shop the sales rack with confidence!

For frequent sale updates, plus more tips, be sure to Follow me on Twitter or become of fan on Facebook.

Are there any particular strategies that you can share with us that you have found to be helpful when shopping at sales? What are some of the specific online sites, brands or stores that you go to first and why? Do you have any sale items with price tags still on them in your closet from previous seasons?!

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