Without a doubt, the biggest new craze in online shopping is the plethora of Web-only luxury sample sale sites (a.k.a. flash sales). A trend that originated in France thanks to a site called Vente-Privee.com, flash sale prototypes in North America have proven to be just as popular and successful.
Sites like Gilt.com, RueLaLa.com, RegentsSecret.com, HauteLook.com, EditorsCloset.com are among the latest crop of members-only Web sites that sell deeply discounted luxury goods, typically up to 70% off retail for a limited-period of time. Once you become a member (you need to be invited by a member), you’ll receive a text message or email informing you when the next VIP sale begins.
Why the sudden wave of these so-called flash sites? With today’s shaky economy, unsold luxury goods are piling up in retailers’ stockrooms like never before. And since major department stores and independent boutiques are so desperate to sell stock before the arrival of next season’s shipments, flash sales have proven to be a great way to move inventory.
Due to the time-sensitive nature of flash sales (36 hours or less), die-hard serial shoppers, myself included, feel a sense of urgency and inevitably get pressured into buying the merch. For example, I just logged on to Gilt.com and noticed that they’re holding a Rebecca Minkoff handbag sale this Thursday, May 29th from 12pm–midnight. That means I’ll have to act fast if I want to score the dove grey leather hobo I’ve been dreaming about.
Flash site Ideeli.com, the savviest of these social networking newcomers, posts a digital time clock informing you exactly when a particular sale is over. Which reminds me: I only have 9 minutes and 5 seconds left to score those Valentino aviator shades I’ve been eyeing…
Buyers beware: as with any e-tailer, make sure to check return policies and shipping fees before you buy. Happy shopping!