Why I’m Skipping the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale

The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale started last Friday.   This has always been my favorite sale of the year, my “holy grail” of sales shopping.  I looked forward to it all year and when mid-July rolled around, I was ready to shop until I dropped (or at least until I dropped a veritable fortune on clothes, shoes, and accessories!).

A Plan of Action and a Change of Heart

Up until last week, I thought I’d shop the sale this year as I always have.  However, as a result of what I’ve learned from writing this blog, I intended to approach the sale from a different perspective and shop much more wisely.  I had planned to write a post about shopping the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale with my new resolve and share how I met this challenge head on.

Saying No to the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale

I’ve decided to sit out this year’s Nordstrom Anniversary Sale

But then…I changed my mind.  Even as I received the sales “picks” from one of my favorite style bloggers on Friday morning, I intuitively knew I should sit this one out.  As I told my surprised husband and announced my intentions on Twitter, I knew I’d made the right decision!

This post outlines my five key reasons for skipping the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale.  I have to admit that I’m surprising even myself these days with my new approach toward shopping.  With my resolve not to shop my favorite sale, I think I might be cured of sales shopping for good!

Reason #1 – Fall is Months Away

The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale is marketed as a way of providing shoppers with a jump start on fall fashions.  New fall merchandise is sold at reduced prices to help consumers prepare their wardrobes for the coming season (and for Nordstrom to make a big profit during the summer, which is normally a slow season for retailers).

There’s one big problem with this scenario…  It won’t be fall for at least two more months, and for those of us in Southern California, autumn weather won’t begin until early to mid-November.  After all, summer weather just got started where I live.  This means anything I buy now will sit in my closet for close to four months before I get a chance to wear it!  Wouldn’t it be wiser for me to buy things I will wear right away?  I think so!

When fall weather actually arrives in my part of the world, I’ll take stock of my wardrobe and determine what additions, if any, are required.  Then I’ll set out to find what I need.  While I realize the retail calendar is always months ahead of the actual calendar, I don’t have to succumb to the timeline of the stores.  While it might be more difficult to find what I need when I actually need it, I’ll take my chances.  Whatever purchases I make within the next few months will be for things I’ll wear during the summer.

Reason #2 – My Priority List Should Be What Guides My Shopping

When I shopped the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale in the past, I grabbed anything that caught my eye, regardless of how practical it was for my individual needs.  I didn’t consider where I would wear the item in question or whether I already had something very similar at home.  If it looked “cool,” I tried it on.  If I liked the way it looked on me, I bought it.  All reason was thrown out the window in favor of getting a “good deal” on “cool clothes.”

When getting a good deal on eye-catching clothing is the main driver of your shopping behavior, the end result is not usually positive.  This type of shopping often leads to an abundance of “closet orphans,” items that don’t get worn because they don’t “go” with other items in your wardrobe or just don’t meet your lifestyle needs.

Instead of shopping with a completely open mind, I now choose to shop with a list.  As I’ve been paying more attention to what I have in my closet and how it is or isn’t meeting my needs, I’ve compiled a list of shopping priorities.  When I shop now, I go with a plan for what I hope to buy.  It’s difficult to shop a sale with a list because the things on your list are often not what are on sale.  It’s all too easy to become distracted by the sales frenzy and end up buying non-priority items.  This year, I will avoid such temptation by not shopping the sale.

Reason #3 – I Returned Most of What I Bought Last Year

Despite my excitement for shopping the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, I returned almost everything I bought at last year’s sale. Since I was a Nordstrom cardholder at the time (I’ve since closed all of my store card accounts), I was able to shop the sale before it was opened to the general public.  I ordered eight items online, seven of which I returned to the store on the first official day of the sale.  I purchased at least the same number of items that day and later returned all but one of those pieces.

Once the allure of the sale had passed and I got my new finds home, I soon learned they weren’t as stellar as I had perceived them to be in the store.  While I kept two items from last year’s sale – a top and a jacket – neither of these garments has become a “wardrobe all-star.”  Although I’ve fared better in previous years, I don’t consider my track record to be good enough to continue shopping the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale.

Reason #4 – I Already Have Too Many Clothes!

While I’ve made excellent progress in paring down my wardrobe since the beginning of this year, I still have far too many clothes!  What would be the logic in adding to this problem simply because a “good sale” is going on?  Of course, compulsive shopping knows no logic, but I am now a “recovering shopaholic”!   My brain now gets involved in the shopping process, not just my emotions.

I haven’t sworn off all shopping, but I do plan to shop strategically moving forward.  I vow to buy in small quantities and based upon legitimate lifestyle needs.  Sure, I will still buy things “for fun” on occasion, but I want most of my buys to be reasonable and responsible.   As most of you know, sales shopping is rarely either reasonable or responsible.  It’s emotional buying at its best (or worst) and I want no part of that now!

Reason #5 – Why Should I Shop on Nordstrom’s Timeline?

Finally, I want to be in charge of when I shop, what I buy, and how much I spend.  Why should I shop just because Nordstrom says it’s time to shop?  Why should I buy fall clothing in the middle (or really the beginning) of summer just because Nordstrom supposedly slashed prices on all that will be hot and trendy for next season?

As my husband often tells me, prices are arbitrary.  Stores always end up making a profit, even when they have their “amazing sales.”  While Nordstrom says the prices will go up after the Anniversary Sale ends, anyone who’s shopped the sale knows there’s very little merchandise remaining at that point.  What is left over will likely go on sale again within weeks anyway to make way for the new merchandise that comes into the store on a regular basis.

There will always be new things to buy, new trends to participate in (or not), and items will always go on sale.  Even if a “big sale” is not going on, one will always be able to find new clothing at prices that meet his or her needs.  However, if one adopts a “quality over quantity” perspective, taking advantage of “good deals” becomes less important.  The focus shifts more to what one actually needs and away from getting the lowest possible price.  This type of approach also allows one to focus on other considerations like ethics and sustainability.

I’m Happy with My Decision

I’m completely at peace with my decision to skip the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale this year.   While I do admit to browsing the website a bit and peaking at posts from others about what they bought, I haven’t really been tempted to shop the sale myself.  I’m ready to take a longer range view of my shopping and my style.

Instead of going for the “quick fix” that a sale provides, I want to fulfill upon the goals I set for myself when I started this blog.  I want to cultivate a wardrobe I love that works for my body, lifestyle, and personality.  This means no more impulse purchases or buying for a lifestyle or style that is not my own.  I’m ready to put emotional shopping and sales frenzies behind me, and skipping the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale is a definite step in the right direction!

32 thoughts on “Why I’m Skipping the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale

  1. I, too will sit this one out. Stores are here to make a profit, but you or I are not obligated to keep any one store afloat. I am a regular Nordstrom shopper online (I live in the boonies of North Central AR) , and I greatly appreciate their excellent merchandise and customer service. They will continue to have a loyal customer in me. But it took me a long time to learn that sales are the most expensive way to shop. I use much better judgment when paying full price for an item that I will appreciate compared to the ‘two-for-one-deal-of-a-lifetime’. Your are making great strides, Debbie.

    • I will remain a loyal Nordstrom customer, too, Cornelia. A lot of my favorite clothes came from there, but I do better when I avoid the sales. You’re right in that sales can be the most expensive way to shop. I had to learn the hard way that what one thinks is a “good deal” can really be a waste of money, as we often lower our standards or change our priorities in the face of low prices. At least for a while (and maybe forever), I will shop with a list and avoid sales!

  2. I’ve never shopped the sale, but thought I might this year, since–as you note–many blogs feature “picks.” Luckily, I returned from a long trip just a few days ago, and, as expected, I’m horrified by the amount of stuff in my closets.

    I learned a while ago that there’s always another sale anyway.

    • You’re right that there will always be another sale, Frugalscholar! It’s wonderful that your long trip was not only enjoyable, but it also drove the point home that you just don’t need a lot of clothes. Project 333 did that for me, but I’m not against having the lesson solidified by a fun trip. I’m long overdue!

  3. Good for you Debbie! You are making so many changes. A sale can be great if an item that you were interested in gets marked down or you find something that you need for less. If you shop just because there is a sale, you’re really not saving any money.

    • You’re right that there can be some advantages of sales, Tonya. I don’t think I will avoid them forever, but I felt the need to do so now, both to stay on track and to avoid temptation. But in the future, I may shop sales for staple items or to buy things I’ve wanted/needed but were out of my price range. We shall see…

  4. I did buy some (badly needed) new bras at the Nordstrom sale! I was delighted to find those were marked down when I went in looking to finally replace my old ones, but the rest of it, not so much. I actually had no idea there was an annual Nordstrom sale in July until the sales associate told me. When she told me I checked out the rain coat I’ve been eyeing for the last two years but alas, it wasn’t included. I’m very impressed that you’re sitting the sale out when it’s historically been a big shopping event for you, however. That is a major change.

    • Congrats on getting some new bras at the sale, Dorie! I’m glad you were pleasantly surprised by the sale. Your example is when a sale really IS a good deal. Sorry to hear the raincoat you wanted wasn’t on sale. It could happen in the future, though, so don’t give up 🙂

  5. Brilliant! This is major progress I feel, and I remember you writing about it a few posts back that you would be going, but shopping strategically, and testing your resolve!

    One thing I’ve learnt about compulsive behaviour from my own experience, is that triggers are very strong, and bring strong urges to engage in the behaviour. Therefore, I have tried to remove the triggers that I know bring on urges for me, and it has helped give me space to deal with the underlying reason for the behaviour. In a similar way, avoiding emotional, impulse sales shopping may be removing an important trigger for you, so you can have the space to reflect on the underlying reasons for becoming a compulsive shopper. What do you think?

    I have also avoided the summer sales here, my favourite stores touting reduced prices, and I’ve walked past on every occasion. I am on a clothing-shopping hiatus challenge until September 30th, and don’t want to give in to shopping for leisure, adding more clothes to an already large pile.

    Well done again Debbie, you should be immensely proud of yourself for sitting out your favourite sale. Great progress!

    • You’re right about the need to avoid triggers, Linda, especially when one is working on big behavioral changes. I am still learning about why I started shopping compulsively in the first place and finding new ways of meeting my emotional needs. At first I thought I’d test my resolve by shopping the sale. I wanted to prove to myself that I am different. But then I realized I don’t need to prove anything, to myself or anyone else. I just need to work on becoming my best possible self. I may shop sales again in the future (with a plan, of course), but most important now is for me to continue to work on my goals for my wardrobe, my style, and my life!

  6. Wow! I am very impressed! This is a real accomplishment! Even if you’re in the fledgling stages of change, knowing that you should avoid the “triggers,” as Linda wrote, above, is sure to cement your progress.

    For me, my downfall is online shopping — the store is always open and offers things I need, like tall length pants and less picked-over colors and sizes. However, you’re a good influence on me and I unsubscribed to all store announcements — thank you!

    • Thanks for the kudos, Elizabeth! I struggle with online shopping sometimes, too, but I often end up returning almost everything I buy. Like you, I need to find tall length pants, but I am not easy to fit for pants/jeans. I find that many retailers who carry pants in talls cut in more of a juniors fit and that is not my body type at all. If you have suggestions for me, I’d love to receive them. But I digress… Congrats on unsubscribing from store announcements! I’ve done that, too, and it really helps in avoiding temptation. If we don’t know about the “great deals,” we’re much less tempted to take advantage of them!

  7. Good for you Debbie. One thing that has helped me squelch my desire to purchase a sale item is to ask myself “Would you still buy this item if it was full-price?” That has helped me from buying a lot of unnecessary items.

    • Great question to keep in mind, Marianne! It also applies to thrift and consignment shopping. I think I’ve made more mistakes there than with sales, especially since I was unable to return things I bought in resale stores. Asking that question and answering honestly can help us avoid a lot of mistakes!

  8. As Dorie noted, the key to maneuvering through a sale is to go with a specific purchase in mind, such as replacing needed items of clothing. “Shopping” a sale is a recreational pursuit that has financial implications — not to mention additional storage needs. I don’t go to sales EXCEPT to purchase something I need already (usually lingerie, sometimes shoes) that I can now get on sale. The more “exclusive” a sale is, I think, the more tempting it is to over-shop and over-spend. Debbie’s rationale is spot-on and something to remember when the back-to-school and holiday sales ramp up. Being firm in purpose is essential.

    • Your strategy for sales is a good one, Dottie! If you are able to buy something you need at a lower price, then you’re using a sale to your advantage. Most people don’t approach sales that way, though. Often it’s about, “What cool things can I find at a low price?” But many times, those “cool things” will just sit in the closet because the person didn’t really need (or even particularly want) them anyway!

  9. Awesome, Debbie! Congratulations on a huge leap in your growth as a Recovering Shopaholic! As you point out, by the time fall really arrives in your area, Nordstrom (and every other store) will have a whole new crop of items to sell. So you can have your pick of the really fresh stuff when you determine what you really need for fall/winter. Way to go~ You should be very proud of yourself!

    • Thanks so much, Diane! I appreciate your kind words. Yes, I will shop for fall/winter when it’s fall winter and just trust that I will be able to find what I need at that time. And yes, I AM proud of myself 🙂

  10. Good for you Debbie! Thinking of reasons for skipping the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale certainly helps. I’m sure it wasn’t that easy, especially when you had a wise shopping plan of action and it’s your favourite sale.

    I like your reasons, especially reason #1 and #5. I like to focus on my current wardrobe. I can’t be bothered preparing or thinking about the next season wardrobe until it’s near time. I have a life and it does not revolve around big fashion sales.

    I’ve been reading your posts, both highs and lows, since I started looking into ways to improve my wardrobe about 4 months ago. I’m impressed that you’re making progress to achieve the goals you set for yourself. Keep it up!

    • Thanks, Rochelle! Your strategy of focusing on your current wardrobe is a good one. I’m still not completely sure what things, if any, I need for my summer wardrobe. It’s just too early to consider fall at this point! I like to shop on my own personal timeline instead of what the fashion/retail industries set as their timelines. I make much better choices that way, even if I don’t get the lowest prices around.

  11. Good for you, Debbie, for not “falling” for the pre-season sale gambit! I chuckled as I read your post, because as a card holding Nordstrom customer myself–I didn’t even know about the sale!

    I can’t personally get my mind around purchasing fall clothing in the middle of summer. The heat index here has been in the 100’s–not exactly conducive to an autumnal mindset. Besides, I don’t even know what I’m going to want for the upcoming season — because I have yet to tackle the culling of my fall/winter wardrobe. And its not time yet.

    • Wow, it’s VERY hot in your neck of the woods, Deby! I feel it’s too hot to consider fall here and it’s not nearly as warm here. I hope you’re enjoying your curated summer wardrobe. I know you worked really hard on it, so I’m sure you’re enjoying the fruits of your labor. I know you will do a great job in culling your fall/winter wardrobe, too – when it’s time. For now, enjoy wearing your summer skirts!

  12. I am impressed Debbie, that you have reached such a level of self-awareness! Reading this is inspiring. I guess I too am a recovering shopaholic, since I had to cut up my store cards 15 years ago. When they offer that %10 discount for re-upping the cards, I just smile and politely decline. Finally somehow I figured out I would just keep paying! Good work, thanks for the post.

    • Thanks, Jori! Good to see you commenting here. Congrats on learning your lesson about store credit cards long ago! I learned my lesson previously but then hopped on the store card train again. This time, I plan to stay away from those cards and the tantalizing sign-up discount offers. Those cards did me much more harm than good and I’m happy to be rid of them!

  13. Debbie you have really made an impressive stand so congratulations! All of your reasons are valid but I particularly liked number 4 as this is what stops me from being tempted by sales or anything other than a planned item to fill a need.
    What your husband says is also true – the stores are making a profit no matter what because the original mark up is so high. I also find it helpful to remember that many of the shiny new things will be out of date next year so your strategy of buying quality classics is the better option.
    Thanks for all your posts – I read and appreciate every one even if I don’t always comment 🙂

    • Thanks, Megan! Yes, reason #4 (too many clothes) is quite compelling, isn’t it? Why add more when I already have to much as it is? I’d rather add strategically as needed while I continue to pare down my existing wardrobe. I do have a few things I actually need, but I doubt I’d find them at this particular sale (or probably even ANY sale). I’m moving in the right direction and focusing on QUALITY. I may be a slow learner, but I’m finally catching on! Glad you like my blog! I appreciate your continued support!

  14. It’s amazing how a changed state of mind can transform your habits that you never thought you can break out of. I’ve recently found out that I am pregnant with my second child and my brain just switched off of any desire to shop for clothes that usually brings me so much pleasure. I looked through my wardrobe inventory list and predicted that I can wear 70% of my wardrobe right up to the end of my second trimester. I’ll probably only buy 2-3 items for the last 3 months of my pregnancy when I’m too huge to wear most of my clothes. But the point is, once that new piece of information entered my mind, the thought of obtaining the perfect wardrobe and shopping just disappeared, like a spell had been broken and I was snapped back into reality. Now that I’ve had the experience of being a shopaholic, I can’t imagine living my life the way I have the past 4 years. I can see that your perspective has changed so much and even if you will have moments of regression in the future, (as it’s totally normal for every type of addict) I’m certain you will never go back to that out-of-control state like before.

    • Congratulations on your pregnancy, Wendy! Very exciting news and it sounds like you have a good plan for your maternity wardrobe. It’s interesting how a shift in our lives can change our perspective on shopping. My recent health challenges have done that for me, as well as what I learned from doing Project 333. When I’ve struggled so much with feeling well, I haven’t been thinking as much about shopping. It just wasn’t a priority anymore. I hope it will stay that way as I feel better. You’re right in that I will likely slip from time to time. I did buy too many things in June (will do accountability update soon), but now I’ve course-corrected and have gotten back on track. It seems like your perspective has changed much like mine has. I wish you all the best with your continued recovery and with your pregnancy!

  15. Terrific post once again Debbie! And really fantastic progress. I have so far sat out the Matches summer sale – normally I’d spend a hefty amount of money but this year I’ve just enjoyed the feeling of control and contentment of not being sucked in.

    I was also able to resist a major temptation during the weekend. A friend mentioned a bargainous high-quality dress on sale. I went online, moved it to my basket and tried to purchase it. But there was something wrong with my profile, the shipping address was incorrect, and when I was asked to fill out my details I started asking myself ‘Why am I here’, ‘How do I feel?’, ‘Do I really need this’ etc. I left the computer, acknowledging the urge to shop but deciding to do nothing about it. In fact, I went to my wardrobe and retrieved an old dress. Not perfect, but good enough. As I already have so many clothes, I figured I’d wear anything new just a handful of times, and I might just as well give the older dress a few outings. So I’ve worn several older items to work, feeling really happy and proud.

    • Thanks for the praise, FrugalFashionista! You are deserving of praise, too! Great job on avoiding the sale (I haven’t heard of Matches, but it’s probably a place I’d like to shop!) and and the tempting dress buy. It seems like it was meant to be that an error delayed your purchase and gave you time to ask yourself some compelling questions! You definitely deserve to feel proud of yourself for the recent progress you’ve made. I’m sure the “old dress” looked fabulous on you, and it’s great that you are giving it some more wear.

  16. Your past NAS experiences sound a lot like mine. Each year I’ve shopped that sale with a different mind set, and it’s always backfired on me. The first year I shopped, I purchased whatever caught my eye. And I ended up keeping only 3 items, and only 1 of those became a workhorse piece. The next year, I had the idea to do all my shopping for the season with the sale. I had read about people that only shop twice a year, and I thought that would work for me. Nope! Then last year, I tried to shop with a list. I only stuck with half of the list, and since then have realized how few pieces I need and how many I own, and all I did was keep adding pieces last year. Skipping the sale completely is a great idea! As my husband would say, it’s not a sale, if you weren’t already going to purchase it anyway.

    • I’m glad I skipped NAS this past year and I may do the same this year, too. Where I live, our fall weather doesn’t even start until November, so it usually doesn’t work for me to buy fall pieces in July. I wish the seasons in the stores would line up better with our real seasons! Your husband sounds like a wise man! My husband says similar things, but I like the way your husband put it. Indeed!

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