Luxury sample sale websites are the hottest new trend in online shopping. I have memberships to four such websites: Gilt, Ruelala, HauteLook and Ideeli. Fortunately for my budget, I have not yet made a purchase on any of these sites, though I was tempted to do so many times by their colorful frocks, supple leather goods, glittering jewelry, and stylish footwear.
As a New York Times article said, these sample sale websites target consumers’ desire for a great deal (prices are up to 70% off retail) with the urgency of Today Only! sales.
The concept seems tailored to recessionary times. Any guilt that consumers feel over spending thousands of dollars on unnecessary items can be replaced by bragging rights for finding a killer bargain, like a $4,500 diamond necklace that was recently on sale for $2,250 at Gilt.
Whenever I am browsing on these sample sale websites, I have to be careful that I don’t buy more than I need or really want. The temptation to do is strong, because I think I’m getting a great deal and because there’s a giant clock counting down the minutes until the deal expires. The good news is that while most of these sites don’t offer cash refunds, they will let you send back your items for a store credit if you are hit with buyer’s remorse after you’ve clicked the “buy” button. Final sales are usually nonrefundable, so don’t buy unless you’re certain of the sizing and the style.
A dress, even at 80% off, even by a famous designer, even if it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to buy, is not a deal if it is at odds with your style or figure, or is more than you can comfortably afford. I think sample sale websites are a great resource for getting luxury at a discount in the convenience of your own home, as long as we keep those facts in mind.