Join 3,558 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


best time of the year to catch deeply discounted seasonal clothing at retail or online stores?
February 4, 2009 8:04 AM   Subscribe

When is the best time of the year to catch deeply discounted seasonal clothing at retail or online stores?

I like to buy winter clothes when spring stuff comes out, and summer clothes when fall/winter stuff comes out. I don't care that much about trends, as most of them last more than a year. I have found that i can save lots by checking clearance rack, but I want to know the best times for this.
posted by l2yangop to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (5 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
(former retail / fashion buyer for world's largest department store chain)

You're already doing about all you can do. Most fashion retail categories operate on a seasonal basis, regardless of what it is. So, swimwear operates on the summer season, they'll start to stock the stores up in late spring and start to clear out of product come August or so. The bigger stores will keep a small "cruise" collection on hand for those people traveling to warmer climes. Outerwear / rainwear - same thing, follows the cold / rainy seasons, so when the weather starts to warm up, its the right time to buy.

Clothing for other categories - jeans, shirts, business wear, shoes, accessories - these kind of fluctuate by category but for the most part they run either on a 2-season a year basis or a 4-season a year basis. When I was buying women's designer denim, for instance, there were 4 "collections" a year, but really only 2, sometimes max 3 of them were big ones that you had to be sure to see at the vendors and stock your stores with the hot products in order to be in fashion and a market leader.

Figuring out when the cheaper prices are coming in these kinds of categories will be a little trickier, unless you pay really close attention to when a particular style hits the floor and how many weeks its been there. Many times big retailers are buying the more basic products on what's called a "replenishment" system - so as soon as an item rings at the register the system automatically ads another line to the next purchase order to replace that unit. So, don't focus on a basic style. Look at a sparkly, shiny new style that's right near the front of the department. Ask a sales clerk when they first got it - if it was 2 weeks ago, come back in a month and check again. Then one more month and check again. If its no longer there on the second check, then you have your answer - they're operating on a quarterly (or faster) product cycle. Going to market that many times a year is tough, though, for a buyer, so usually you're going to find that the collections are in the stores for 4 months before they're being phased out at a minimum, 6 months at a maximum.

Honestly, after all those years getting jaded working in the industry, I found that your absolute best deals are not buying at markdown price - you can do OK here, but you're going to do a lot better if you can buy at sample sales (if you're blessed to be in NYC or LA), or barring that shop as much as you can at the discount secondary retailers: TJ Maxx, Ross, Marshall's, et. al.. They get a lot of really decent product and are selling it most times well below the first and even second markdowns that mass-market retailers will take.

Good luck.
posted by allkindsoftime at 8:23 AM on February 4, 2009 [7 favorites]


Basically two times a year - the switch from cold-weather clothing to warm and the switch from warm to cold. The switch to warm clothing happens surprisingly early. I was in Target just the other day, and the short-sleeve stuff was out and the clearance racks were bare.

This may vary by climate, though. Here in the south, we're already seeing a few signs of spring.
posted by chrisamiller at 8:25 AM on February 4, 2009


I see the biggest sales most often in January and June/July, when most retailers are clearing out seasonal stock.

In addition to TJ Maxx and the like, I'd also recommend checking out any outlet stores near you. Not every outlet store is great, but (for example) the Gap outlet is fantastic for dirt-cheap basics.

I've also found that the best way to learn about the best sales is to get on the mailing list of stores where you like to shop; they'll notify you early of most sales, and many retailers have mailing-list-exclusive offers. I don't recommend this route if you're a shopaholic, though; it can be difficult to resist five special offers in your inbox every day.
posted by Metroid Baby at 9:15 AM on February 4, 2009


I don't know if you have one near you but Nordstrom Rack is AWESOME for getting deeply discounted items from their parent store.
posted by like_neon at 2:32 PM on February 4, 2009


shop as much as you can at the discount secondary retailers: TJ Maxx, Ross, Marshall's, et. al.. They get a lot of really decent product and are selling it most times well below the first and even second markdowns that mass-market retailers will take.

That said, the quality of what those guys offer has slid considerably in recent years.
posted by IndigoJones at 5:53 PM on February 4, 2009


« Older What is the best software to c...   |  I'm looking for pretty/ intere... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.