Is a sale still a sale when it happens all the time? I’ve never done a random sample to prove this, but I have a sneaking suspicion that on any day of the year, retailers (particularly apparel / clothing / accessories retailers) are promoting discounted prices for whatever reason. Everywhere I go, there seems to be a up to 30% off (or 40% or 50%) sign hung outside storefronts or prominently displayed on websites. That’s not even counting websites and stores devoted specifically to discounted pricing.
Going down the chronological list, you have the sales named after holidays, and then other ambiguously named promotions tucked in between. See for example: After Christmas, New Year, Spring, President’s Day, Easter, Memorial Day, Get-Ready-For-Summer, July 4th, Twice-A-Year, Annual Blowout, Labor Day, Fall, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Winter, and Christmas. Then there are the special pricing on top of sales – for example, 20% to 40% off everything already discounted, the clearance sale, the last-chance sale.
As a consumer, I can’t complain about great sales. I wonder though, have retailers conditioned customers to expect all sales, all the time? The proliferation of discounted prices has imbued in us a sense that there’s always another sale (or sale on sales) just around the corner, so who buys full-priced items anymore?
A 2000 article says that too many store sales can backfire, because consumers just aren’t sure if a sale is really a sale, and if full-priced items are worth paying for anymore if they will end up on the discounted rack in a month or two. One of my girlfriends only buy clothes, shoes, or bags if they are on sale, and not just on any kind of sale – she is the shopping maestro who somehow gets a 20% off an item that has already been marked down 3 times so that in the end, she only paid $20 for a $120 dress.
Sales are an easy way to get consumers in the door, but that comes at a price to retailers. When sales have become so ubiquitous that they are no longer a special opportunity, but an everyday occurrence, what’s the incentive for customers to pay full price?
Have you grown immune to sales? What would you pay full-price for?
image source: revolveclothing.com