Secret Sales at Luxury Retailers & Are Those Gossip Girls Underdressed?

Hello-Hello and welcome to a Wednesday!

We start today with a look at a new phenomenon in online shopping, courtesy of several upscale retailers: the limited-time sale. It generally starts with an email like this:

Courtesy Neiman Marcus

The image above is from a Neimans email we received Monday; it is for the ‘midday dash’ at Neiman Marcus, a two-hour online-only sale.  At the appointed time this is what a savvy shopper will see at the Needless Markup Neiman Marcus site; the merchandise changes with each sale.

secret_600

As described in a July story in the Times:

“Customers learn about the sale mere hours before it begins. This week’s “dash” featured a $697 Burberry handbag, marked down from $1,395. A Carmen Marc Valvo chiffon gown was $575, down from $1,150. And Cole Haan flats were $82, down from $165.”

By no means is Neimans the only luxury retailer trying new ways to prompt consumers to open (re-open?) those pocketbooks.  The following screen grab shows what one sees today after the most recent Saks ‘Fashion Fix’ sale ended.

Courtesy Saks Fifth Avenue

The Fashion Fix email explained “Today, the rush begins. Get Yours. Online Only.” and promoted 50% savings on top brands at Saks like Herve Leger, Alice and Olivia, Chloè, and more.

However, not all ‘secret sales’ are online only, as the Times story details:

“… the benefits of secret sales — whispered discounts and discreet price negotiations between customers and sales staff in the aisles of upscale chains. A time-worn strategy typically reserved for a store’s best customers, it has become more democratized as the recession drags on and retailers struggle to turn browsers into buyers.”

Nor do the higher-end stores want to tell everyone in the world about their discounted goods.

“The conventional wisdom is that the more consumers who know about a sale, the better for business. But that rule does not necessarily hold in luxury retailing.”

The Journal has also written about the relatively new practice; from their October story on Saks testing this method of selling:

“The realm of online “private sales” so far has been dominated by a small number of retail startups that specialize in the brief sales of discount designer apparel. Their Web sites, including Gilt.com, RueLaLa.com and HauteLook.com, have built a following with virally marketed, daily “members only” sales.”

Below, a recent Rue La La screen shows listings for that day’s ’boutiques’.

Courtesy Rue La La

AOL’s Daily Finance has more on how the designers’ perceive these sales:

“The sites are popular with designers, who’d rather have their goods sold there than hung in clearance racks at department stores. Designers know their brands are their currency and they are very wary about cheapening them; it’s a constant point of friction between designers and department stores. That’s why you’ll never find Hermès sold off-price.”

Back to Stephanie Rosenbloom’s story in the Times, with more on the psychology behind selling this way:

“Such discreet sales preserve a brand’s veneer of exclusivity and help create a sense of urgency by limiting the time customers have to score a deal. Additionally, secret sales enable stores to discount their merchandise deeply without angering regular customers who may have bought at full price.”

In many respects this doesn’t seem all that different from what many retailers have been doing online for some time, providing early notice to its better customers of special discounts, sale and promotional events. One issue that may be a concern is overexposure; below, another email received here at the Prepatorium from Neimans, this one touting the Last Call sale currently underway.

Courtesy Neiman Marcus

Some customers may start to feel inundated with ‘special sale’ notifications and promotions.  It’s no secret that we find J. Crew a repeat offender in this category, with the volume of email creating a perception that everything is always ‘on sale’, and if not currently ‘on sale’, it will be ‘on sale’ again very soon.

On the other hand, here at the Princess we have been told we should email customers on our mailing lists more frequently. We only send our newsletters to those requesting them, generally every four to five weeks.  We take your email address and privacy very seriously, and while desirous of offering special savings and sharing new merchandise with you, we want those occasions to remain ‘special’. (If not a subscriber and interested in receiving either our Preppy Planet or Lilly Pulitzer newsletters, just click here for our  home page, and look at the lower right-hand side of the page to sign up.)

BTW, if anyone needs invites to the ‘members only’ sites like those listed above, just email us (thepreppyplanet@gmail dot com) and we’ll get one on its way to you.

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Also on the hit parade today, a follow-up to yesterday’s post showing a rather scantily clad Blake Lively attending the premiere of her new film. It is not unusual for Ms. Lively to be out and about in such apparel (or lack thereof), while Gossip Girl co-star Leighton Meester is generally deemed to be more conservatively clad.  Ummm… perhaps not so much any more.

PHOTO: Splash News

Ms. Meester is seen at last night’s American Eagle store opening party, where she performed several songs from her new album.

PHOTO: Steve Eichner/WWD

Whiles these images may look fairly provocative, the actress’s photos in the December issue of GQ are far racier. The one we show below is the only image not carrying the dreaded NSFW caution.

GQ

We really were amazed at the other pictures.

Speaking of G2, there is word today that Michelle Trachtenberg is doing a jewelry line with Coach.  From the story in today’s WWD:

“Trachtenberg will apply her tough-girl meets sugary-sweet vibe to her first jewelry collection in collaboration with Coach under the accessories giant’s youthful and spirited Poppy line.”

The new line will launch next Spring.

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We close with a special Pretty in Pink, French department store Printemps is all aglow for the holidays.

We loved shopping at this retailer when they entered the US market many years back (ultimately an unsuccessful endeavor), but we have not visited any located on the far side of the pond for years.

On that, may everyone enjoy an evening that is light, bright and filled with fun!

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11 Comments

Filed under Gossip Girl, preppy, preppy lifestyle, Sales & Savings

11 responses to “Secret Sales at Luxury Retailers & Are Those Gossip Girls Underdressed?

  1. LPC

    May Printemps never change. And may they always sell shirts. Because some of us still wear clothes under our jackets.

  2. I am old fashioned, but those girls are under dressed. But so many in the celebrity scene are under dressed and the message it gives to other young ladies is that is how one must dress to be “in style”.

    It is sad to see a 15yr old trying to dress more like a hooker….Oh I mean a celebrity…why? because that celebrity is their idol.

  3. Jen

    I have not heard of these special sales. Very interesting. I am also not on the Neiman’s e-mail list. Scantily clad does seem to be in these days with the twenty something celebrity set. What ever happened to showing just enough to be sexy but not so much as to look slutty? I suppose that went out with pearls and kitten heels.

  4. Not a fan of the GG stars’ hooker garb… didn’t they learn anything at all about fashion and styling during all those long hours at work?

    Also, I’m a little disappointed that Coach is hiring a celebrity to “help” with their designs – let’s hope she doesn’t ruin Poppy entirely!

  5. I kinda like it…except for the black bar code thing bra.

  6. Those Gossip Girls are most definitely underdressed!

  7. Red&White Preppy

    I have just about had it with Gossip Girl. How am I supposed to explain good morals and values to my darling students when they worship the characters on Gossip Girl? Yucky…

  8. well, those girls are underdressed…I concur with LPC. I would like to be underdressed in a like manner (stretch marks non-withstanding) but I would FREEZE. Aren’t they cold?

  9. So excited for Spring fashion! Ready to shed these winter layers already. Nautical themes make it even better!

  10. This reminds me that I’ve been meaning to add a newsletter for the website! Just for when new things are added, which isn’t constantly, so hopefully it won’t be annoying.

  11. I am a huge fan of the online designer members only sales. Not only do they allow the busy people of the world an “in” to these great prices, but they also give a fair chance to those who do not live near a big city access to these items without having to pay full price at saks.com.

    Personally my favorite is Editors Closet — editorscloset.com — great sales and amazing prices!

    The only negative aspect is that you have to get on *fast* because things fell out quickly…

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