These days, everyone seems to be looking for ways to stretch a dollar. Thankfully, there are major bargains to be found if you know where to look and when to shop. Here are 10 savvy shopping strategies to help you find the best stuff for less.
1. SHOP AT OFF-PRICE STORES
Most of these stores can’t advertise the brand name goods they sell which is how they are able to offer them at such bargain prices. Larger chains like TJ Maxx and Marshalls have more buying power so you’ll find even better deals. You may have to dig deep, but you’re bound to find something amazing.
- TIP: check back often, each store receives 3 to 4 truckloads of merchandise each week. Avoid Saturday – it is the most crowded day.
2. SHOP ONLINE
It’s no secret that this is our favorite way to shop. Not only can you avoid crowds and shop in your pj’s, but some of the best deals can be found online. Often this is because there’s typically a lower overhead associated with online-only businesses.
Online outlets such as bluefly.com and yoox.com offer a selection of luxury brands with the same bargain prices you’ll find at an off-price retailer. You can often find the same items in department stores, boutiques and within the pages of your favorite magazines at full price — yet they offer it at much lower prices. For non-fashion items, check out overstock.com and smartbargains.com.
- TIP: If you find something you like, buy it quickly, inventory is typically limited so hot items move fast.
- TIP: Be sure to sign up for email newsletters to be the first to hear about new arrivals and sales.
- TIP: Search online for special offers and coupon codes before you shop (check out our coupon site, sweet-savings.com for some amazing deals at places you love to shop)
3. SHOP AT DISCOUNT STORES
A big trend these days is for high end designers to create lower-priced mass-market lines carried exclusively by discount stores. This is a great way to grab a designer trend for fractions of the price you’d pay for their higher end lines. Of course, you also get what you pay for – most of these items are not as well-made and are made of lower quality fabrics, but they are perfect updates for a season. Target is famous for carrying limited edition designer collections (like this month’s Rodarte collection).
4. SHOP AT OUTLET MALLS
You may have to drive a distance to get to your nearest outlet mall, but you’ll often be rewarded with amazing deals on designer brands. Plan to spend the day and wear your walking shoes! Be sure to hit the department store outlets like Off Fifth Saks, Neiman Marcus Last Call and Barneys New York – you’ll find some incredible brands you won’t normally find at an outlet.
- TIP: be sure your name is on “the list” to learn about special sales and receive valuable coupons.
6. GET ON THE LIST
There’s a new way to shop that’s growing in popularity: special members-only online sample sale communities like hautelook.com and ideeli.com. They email members whenever there’s a new, deeply discounted, online designer sale.
7. MAKE A WISHLIST
Head to shopstyle.com and search for clothing and accessories from virtually every online store and create a wish list of your favorites. If you’re willing to wait for the best price (and risk missing out on an item), they’ll notify you when your favorites go on sale.
8. COMPARISON SHOP
If you’re looking for a specific item (like a black riding boot or Juicy Couture faux fur jacket), try using a comparison search engine like shopzilla.com or thefind.com to find the best prices available.
9. SHOP SAMPLE SALES
If you live in NY or LA, sample sales are a great way to get in-season designer clothes at seriously discounted prices (up to 90% off!) The caveat: selection is limited, competition from other shoppers is fierce, you often can’t try on, sales are final and many only accept cash. Savvy shoppers can get the deal of a lifetime on clothing they normally could never afford. Check out topbutton.com to search for upcoming sales near you.
10. BE A SAVVY SALE SHOPPER
There is an art to being a good sale shopper:
- Early season sales like the semi-annual Nordstrom anniversary sale give pre-season shoppers up to 40% off the newest clothes and accessories as soon as they hit the racks. If you’re up on the latest trends, you’ll be rewarded with a huge inventory, large selection and great prices.
- Late season sales are the perfect time to scoop up items with staying power: cashmere sweaters, riding boots, little black dresses… anything you think you’ll want to wear for the next few years. Selection is limited and this is not the time to purchase trendy items that you’ll get little wear from.
- Avoid Sale Psychosis. This is StyleBakery’s term to describe the temporary insanity that takes over when women encounter a deeply discounted item. Ask yourself: do you really need another leopard print bag or how often will you wear those emerald green pumps? If it’s not something you are willing to pay full price for, then don’t buy it just because it’s on sale. Period.
- If you often shop at the same stores, it might be worth it for you to sign up for a credit card. They’ll alert you in advance when a sale is coming up and will often give you additional discounts. Bloomingdales is famous for rewarding cardholders with special offers.
- Hold on to receipts. If an item goes on sale shortly after you buy it, many stores will give you a price adjustment. (Hint: you don’t need to bring back the actual item, just the receipt)
Follow these tips and you’re on your way to getting the most for your money!