For many years, the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale (NAS) has been my absolute favorite sale. I’d look forward to the sale all year and go online to check out the offerings shortly after midnight on the first day of “pre-selections” for Nordstrom cardholders. I would usually make multiple purchases before the sale was over, both online and in the store. Over the years, I’ve spent far too much money at this sale and have often bought things that I later regretted purchasing.
NAS Blog Posts Over the Years…
Every year since starting this blog, I’ve done a post about NAS. The first year (2013), I opted to skip the sale entirely, which was empowering for me at the time and proved to myself that I could successfully resist shopping temptation. The following year, I went back to the sale with good intentions, but encountered some of the same difficulties I had in the past, spending too much time, energy, and money on the process.
My NAS post last year was about FOMO and the marketing messages that Nordstrom used to trigger our fear of missing out and get us to shop more. I shopped the sale last year, too, but ended up returning the lion’s share of what I bought. Fortunately, however, I spent a lot less time on the experience and didn’t feel that I overdid it, even in the face of the intense marketing messages directed toward Nordstrom shoppers.
This year, I decided to approach the sale in a very different manner. In today’s post, I’ll share what I did and how it worked out for me. This approach could be used for any type of sale, not just the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. It can even be used for non-sale shopping, as the principles used are pretty much universal.
The Process I Used
The key to the process I used is something I’ve written about before on the blog, the “power pause.” This great tool was coined by Jill Chivers of “Shop Your Wardrobe,” who recommends that we wait at least two hours and optimally as long as two days before we buy something that we identify we want. The reason for this is that our desire for the item in question often cools off after some time has elapsed.
So here’s what I did… As usual, I went to the Nordstrom website shortly after midnight to view all of the sales offerings on the first day of NAS. This was no big deal because I stay up late anyway (although I’m working to reform my “night owl” ways, as I last wrote about HERE). I looked over the sale items in many key categories and placed anything that struck my fancy and was within the realm of reason for me to buy (within my price range and something I could see myself wearing) into my shopping cart. There were twenty such items, but I had no intention of buying them all. After I did this, I went to bed.
I told myself I would wait at least two days before buying anything, but I ended up waiting longer than three days. During that period, I looked at my cart items several times. Each time, I noticed my fervor for some of them has started to wane. A few items sold out in that short time frame, but I wasn’t upset by that. I knew that they would either be re-stocked, as often happens during this sale, or it wouldn’t end up mattering. There are always many great clothes, shoes, and accessories available. There’s really no shortage of beautiful things that we can want, and many of them will suit our lives and be offered at an affordable price.
Visiting the Store
Since I ended up returning so many of my NAS purchases last year, I elected to go to the store and try things on this time around. Before doing so, I printed out my shopping cart list and thought about the items on it in relation to my shopping priorities list. Since I’m trying to focus more attention on my at-home wardrobe this year, I decided to locate and try on those types of items first before even looking at “out and about” wear. Fortunately for me, the active wear and lingerie departments are both on the same floor of my local Nordstrom and most of the other women’s departments are on a different floor.
I located as many at-home items from my cart list as I could and tried them on. Some things didn’t work out at all, but I did manage to find one pair of workout Capri pants and one pair of lounge pants. I also ordered a short, cozy cardigan that can serve as both a robe and a topper for my walks by the water or a casual outing. I was very pleased with all three purchases, as they all meet real lifestyle needs of mine.
I then went downstairs to the main women’s clothing departments, where I was able to locate most of the other items on my cart list. Many of them looked dramatically different in person than they did on the website. Some of the fabrics were almost paper-thin and the quality was often sub-standard. Also, some colors didn’t look the same as they did on my monitor, which led me to pass them up in the store. I looked around at the general offerings for a short time, but I mostly focused on finding the pieces that I had identified online. I didn’t even visit the shoe department, as the types of shoes available in the sale were either not on my list or out of my price range.
After trying on fifteen to twenty items in the main women’s departments, I settled on two casual short-sleeved t-shirts (which I will mostly wear at home) and two casual jackets. I had to order one of the jackets in the color I wanted and I may not end up keeping both of them, as I want to see how they will work with what’s in my closet. All of the items I bought were on my cart list, none were expensive, and all are things that I can see myself wearing in the very near future. I considered purchasing a skirt as well, but when I asked myself Bridgette Raes’ pivotal question, “Where are you going in that?,” I didn’t have a good enough answer! I left the skirt in the store and am very glad I did, as it may have ended up becoming a “wardrobe benchwarmer.”
My NAS Experience Was a Success
I feel that my NAS shopping experience this year was a success for the following reasons:
- I used the “power pause” to eliminate any impulse buys.
- I focused my shopping on true wardrobe needs for my real lifestyle.
- I didn’t spend a large amount of time, energy, and money on my shopping.
- I would have bought all of the times at full price, so they weren’t “sales goggles” purchases.
- Even though NAS is focused on fall merchandise, I can see myself wearing all of the things I bought within the next month or so.
- My brain ran the show rather than my emotions.
- I stayed within my clothing budget.
Summing Up My Process
As I mentioned earlier, the process I used for NAS can be applied to other sales, as well as general shopping. Here’s a summary of what I did in case you want to try it yourself:
- Review your shopping priorities list or take a few moments to review your wardrobe and jot down what you need.
- Go on the store’s website, look through the offerings, and add anything you see that meets your needs (or simply “sparks joy”) to your shopping cart.
- Leave the website. This step is very critical! Take a walk, call a friend, or do whatever you need to do to distract yourself, but don’t buy anything at this time.
- You can look at the cart again over the next two days but don’t buy anything until that much time or longer has elapsed.
- After the “power pause” is over, you can do one of two things. If you prefer to shop online, pare down your cart by asking yourself questions like these:
- “Where are you going in that?” (which basically gets at whether or not the item suits your lifestyle)
- “Do I already own something similar that meets this same need?” (this will help to avoid “splitting your wears,” another Bridgette Raes concept).
- “Would I buy this at full price?” (to avoid the all too common phenomenon of buying something just because it’s on sale)
- “Is this in my budget?” (consider that you may have the budget to buy these items but then you might not be able to get something else that you need more)
- If you prefer to shop in the store, print out your shopping cart list and take it with you.
- Whether shopping online or in person, focus your efforts primarily on your cart list. If you look around too much, you will likely find more things that you like, which may result in impulse buys. Try to avoid that as much as possible! If you see other things you like, I recommend that you do another “power pause” for those items, even if it’s a short one. Allow some time to reflect and ask yourself the questions under #5 above.
If you’re unable to review a retailer’s merchandise before going to the store (or if they don’t have a website), you can still use the power pause. One option is to take photos of the items you’re interested in with your phone (or jot down some notes about them) and ask the store to hold them for you for a day or two (or at least a couple of hours). Basically, any time that you have between the stimulus (seeing the items you want) and your response (buying or not buying) is helpful, as it allows time for your rational mind to potentially override your emotions. Even taking a few minutes to visit the restroom, get some air, or enjoy a beverage or snack can make a difference. Try it and see for yourself!
I hope you found this post interesting and helpful. Now I’d like to get your input.
- Do you shop the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale? Is it a successful experience for you? Why or why not?
- What issues do you have with sales shopping?
- What strategies do you have for successfully shopping at sales? For shopping in general?
- Have you used the “power pause”? If so, did you find it helpful?
I invite you to share your thoughts on the above questions, as well as anything else you’d like to say about this post. I may take a while for me to respond (and I may not respond to all comments), as I’m going on a trip Thursday for five days (my first trip since last September). I’m hoping to schedule a photography interlude post for later in the week, but we’ll have to see how things go for me tomorrow.
My updates on my 2016 goals (balance | wardrobe & shopping) will have to wait until after I return from my trip, as a lot goes into writing those types of posts. I want to allow myself enough time to reflect and compile data (you know my love of numbers and stats…). I’m also going to do another “lead up to 50” post (see the first two HERE and HERE) before the big day arrives (less than three months now). Hope your summer is going well so far (or winter for my friends in Australia and New Zealand)!