4. Comparison shop online. Do your homework before the sale begins. Find the stores that carry the brands or items you want, and visit their websites regularly to compare. Some shops or sites will automatically mark down items to 40 percent off once the sale begins, while others hold out and start at only 25 percent off.
One great resource for comparison shopping is Polyvore. Let’s say you’re looking for a specific pair of Gucci boots. Polyvore will pool together all the websites that carry Gucci boots and show the prices. Then you can click and buy on the spot if you see exactly what you want.
5. Take advantage of pre-sale. Many high-end stores offer their regular customers the chance to “pre-buy” items they really want before a sale begins. This is something I’ve done many times. You give your credit card number to your salesperson, who holds the item for you, and the minute the sale begins, they ring it up. You don’t need to physically be in the shop, but you are assured to get the pieces you want.
6. Buy that luxury item you’ve been stalking all season. Sale time can be the opportune moment to score that expensive designer piece you really want. It makes more sense to invest in a beautifully made, quality garment or accessory than bringing home loads of (even more) inexpensive trendy items that won’t last past the season. Shop for quality.
Designer clothing and accessories never get marked down until the end of the season, which usually happens immediately after Thanksgiving — within the next week to 10 days. High end designer labels are the last items to be marked down, so it’s worth it to wait and not indulge in earlier sales.
7. Know your size first. Long before the sales begin, make sure you know your exact size in those Prada shoes or in those Armani trousers you’re lusting after. If you see what you want online, you know that it’ll fit you when you order it, which avoids the need for returns.
8. Wait until the third markdown. When stores get to the deepest markdowns, there are usually some surprises for patient (and lucky) shoppers. I have found some incredible hidden gems at the end-of-season sale at prices that were so good, I’m still scratching my head. This is also the best time to buy those super trendy items, if you really want them. This way, you’ll pay the lowest possible price for things that might not have long-lasting power in your wardrobe.
Third markdowns usually happen either right before Christmas or immediately after when stores are anxious to get rid of their inventory, making way for bathing suits in January. If stores still have a lot of stock left, you can continue to find great deals through the first half of January.