Are consumers craving more warehouse and anniversary sales events?

Discussion
Sources: Facebook/@davidsbridal; Instagram/@nordstrom
Sep 15, 2021

David’s Bridal is holding its first-ever “$99 and Under Warehouse Sale” over a three-day weekend in late September at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center.

The sale promises over 25,000 items, including bridal gowns for $90, occasion dresses for $20 and accessories for $5.

“We are thrilled to be hosting our first-ever warehouse sale,” said Jim Marcum, CEO, in a statement. “As we continue to see weddings, girl’s night outs and other celebrations back on the calendar, we wanted to provide our customers with a fun pop-up experience to shop thousands of dresses, accessories, and shoes we have in our extensive inventory.”

Warehouse sales traditionally offer overstock and/or leftovers from previous seasons at savings in the range of 50 percent to 80 percent off retail prices.

Lululemon held its first warehouse sale online last July to trim elevated stocks amid pandemic-related store closures, but didn’t repeat the event in 2021.

A few chains hold them regularly, including Ann Taylor Loft, J. Crew, Levi’s and Williams Sonoma, despite risks to price integrity. The legendary Barneys Warehouse Sale ran for 42 years in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood until 2014 after the fashion boutique extended its discounts online and to outlet stores.

Warehouse sales run similar to anniversary sales held by many jewelers and furniture chains. REI has a popular anniversary sale and Best Buy has held one annually since its fiftieth anniversary in 2016.

The most famous of the kind is Nordstrom’s, held from late July through early August. Wrote Esquire recently, “The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale is beloved by fans, first and foremost, because it’s a kind of reverse approach to marking things down. Instead of offering discounts on old, out-of-season stock, the team at Nordstrom knocks a very respectable percentage off a bunch of brand-new merchandise.”

Nordstrom’s 2021 Anniversary Sale saw sales increase one percent over 2019’s event. Erik Nordstrom, CEO, said on the retailer’s second-quarter call, “As always, our anniversary sale rewards and engages our loyal customers with brand new product at reduced prices for a limited time. The event was well-timed to serve increasing customer demand for wardrobe refreshes as they return to activities outside the home.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Are you a fan of mega, off-season sales events such as warehouse and anniversary sales? Should more retailers hold them?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"If these kinds of events are needed for growth or just to maintain sales levels, that's not a healthy sign."
"The fundamental challenge here is that retailers and brands continue to buy too much, to over-assort product, and excess is a huge problem."
"...is a wedding warehouse sale really just a tradeoff of a future sale as part from a scheduled wedding plan? I think I see an overstock situation here."

Join the Discussion!

11 Comments on "Are consumers craving more warehouse and anniversary sales events?"


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David Naumann
BrainTrust

Consumers love getting a deal and the thrill of a treasure hunt during warehouse and anniversary sales. For chains like Nordstom and Best Buy that have regularly scheduled anniversary sales, it is tough to break the chain, as customers expect and anticipate the sales.

Liza Amlani
BrainTrust

Consumers will continue to crave a sale event, a treasure hunt, and an excess inventory dump from retailers. Bargain hunters are never going away as long as retailers keep marking down product because they still don’t know how much to buy.

The fundamental challenge here is that retailers and brands continue to buy too much, to over-assort product, and excess is a huge problem. We need to change the way we think of product and put sustainability top of mind when retailing. Reducing excess should be the number one priority for retailers today and sales/promo events feed into the markdown mindset.

Melissa Minkow
BrainTrust

Consumers expect to find lower prices if they look hard enough for anything, but an event isolated to one retailer where everything’s on sale does still feel exciting. A sale being a destination versus finding a deal on one specific item is a different shopping experience. I love mega sale events – they take the effort out of bargain-hunting.

Jenn McMillen
BrainTrust

I love mega-sales in whatever form, especially when I’m extended special access as part of the loyalty program. This is a win-win for both sides. The retailer gives its rabid fans first crack while ensuring sales, while the rabid fans get those special “feels” for getting in the door earlier, virtually or in-store.

Katie Thomas
BrainTrust

Agreed – and it’s also helpful when the products on sale are relatively exclusive to the retailer hosting it, which Nordstrom does well. It seemingly benefits both the consumer and the retailer. As an N of 1, I do feel like I re-engage with Nordstrom during their anniversary sale, and then have rewards that drive me to spend there for the holidays.

The “me too” sales are a strange reaction to me (e.g., in reaction to Prime Day) – it seems like a race to the bottom, and an indication that other retailers do in fact rely on those sales despite the discounted prices.

Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

A lot of consumers like anniversary sales events as they can be a great way to snag a bargain. As they are usually held for a limited duration they also inspire a sense of urgency and push consumers into making buying decisions. The REI Garage Sale is an example of an event that is very popular and being able to shop it is one of the perks of being an REI member.

Jeff Sward
BrainTrust

For most brands and retailers, I think these events present more downside than upside. It’s one thing to clear obsolete inventory. It’s a completely different animal to build these into annual events. Nordstrom seems to have institutionalized their anniversary sale into an annual event without damaging their overall brand persona. But the article is very plain about the downside for most brands when it calls out the “risk to price integrity.” My favorite line is about Lululemon, who had their first event and then didn’t repeat it — because apparently they didn’t need to and had to discipline to not repeat it anyway. And yes, it’s no small deal that their growth in all the normal channels was red hot anyway. If these kinds of events are needed for growth or just to maintain sales levels, that’s not a healthy sign. There’s a big difference between “have to” and simply using these events to randomly and unpredictably clear inventory.

Venky Ramesh
BrainTrust

Given a choice customers will always go for a deal, even when they are willing to buy at full price. Perhaps retailers should introduce a concept of a great deal on three or so (limited) items of their choice and full price on the rest, subject to meeting minimum total purchase. That way they are not setting customers’ expectations to lower prices for the future while driving more personalization and choice. Crazy thought, or maybe some have already tried that and didn’t work out!

Rich Kizer
BrainTrust

Everyone loves securing a good deal. And they love to tell their friends about it. Those endorsements drive customers into the store that have never been there, which pleases the retailer. Everyone wins.

Peter Charness
BrainTrust

Consumers love a good deal and for most products it’s a winner. For bridal, I suppose timing is everything … but is anyone really going to go buy wedding stuff because there’s a sale, or is a wedding warehouse sale really just a tradeoff of a future sale as part from a scheduled wedding plan? I think I see an overstock situation here.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest

David’s sale isn’t just off-season, it’s also off-site; translation: I would think the potential for spillover effects — be they actual sales or simply showcasing the store — is limited.

What seems to be missing from this discussion is any context: if one merchant has great success, what happens if every merchant tries the same? If one sale is great, then how about two, or three … or one-hundred and four? Nordstrom’s events are known not just for the type of merchandise offered, but the discipline they show in only holding a few each year. The temptation, of course, is to think two is good, four is better: you end up … well Macy’s or JCP, in perpetual promotion mode.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"If these kinds of events are needed for growth or just to maintain sales levels, that's not a healthy sign."
"The fundamental challenge here is that retailers and brands continue to buy too much, to over-assort product, and excess is a huge problem."
"...is a wedding warehouse sale really just a tradeoff of a future sale as part from a scheduled wedding plan? I think I see an overstock situation here."

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