Prepping for Anthropologie’s big tag sale

It’s time once again for Anthropologie’s semi-annual tag sale. The sale will start tomorrow! Store employees are talking this sale up to get customers excited. There’s been quite a buzz in the community about this set of markdowns — the anticipation is practically suffocating. What can you expect? Read on to find out.

Believe it or not retailers are starting to clear out their winter inventory for resort and spring (!!!) It’s time to clear sweaters, coats and thicker clothing off the floor. To help the inventory sell quickly many retailers take steep discounts after Christmas to encourage loyal customers to buy an item they were on the fence about, to help gift card holders spend their loot, and to bring in discount shoppers.

The tag sale is so-named because Anthropologie used to literally tag every item in their sale section for inventory clear out. The first tag sale I remember was in 2005. There were blue tags, green tags and yellow tags. Each color represented a different markdown amount — 25%, 30% or 40%. Some stores still use the colored tags but many do not. Instead they put signs around entire racks of clothing, i.e. a “everything on this rack is $59.95” sign on one rack, a $79.95 sign on another, a $39.95 sign on another. On very rare occasions Anthro will offer an additional discount on top of the ticketed price, for example everything on the $39.95 rack might be an additional 20% off. This is very rare and often applied store-by-store, meaning it will not be honored nationwide.

Another change is that Anthro stores will move their sale section out from the back room and up towards the front of the store. I noticed this past weekend that a couple of the NYC stores had already done this.

Those in the community dreaming of 80% first cuts will want to temper their expectations. Expect more items than usual to get marked down but don’t expect steep price cuts. There should also be a lot of 2nd/3rd/etc cuts so if you’re looking for low prices start there. Don’t expect new items to go on sale either. Anthro will stick to its mysterious regular markdown cycle. Sometimes there are surprises in the sale. Mostly there are not.

Historically, the end-of-year tag sale was awesome in 2007 and 2008. Lots of shoes, popular clothing and accessories. 2009’s end-of-year tag sale was disappointing and I wasn’t thrilled by the spring tag sale this year either. In fact the set of markdowns after the tag sale was much better the last two go-rounds. So my expectations are pretty low. There are a few items I’d like to see; I’ll have my full wishlist in the Sale Guessing Game post later today. I know pre-buying has become more common but I highly discourage it. (Pre-buying is buying an item at full price with the expectation of that item going on sale that week.) It can cause you to blow your budget. Not worth it! People usually do this because they fear the item they want may sell out. Items that sell out almost always come back into stock.

In my last tag sale prep post I made some planning recommendations which I encourage you to take a peek at. Finally, I want to address some commonly asked questions. If you have any more leave a comment and I’ll update the post.

Is the tag sale in-store only or online too?
The tag sale is both in-store and online. However there are sometimes price differences, with items being lower-priced in stores. 

Is the tag sale clothing only? Or will home wares be marked down too?
Expect to see items from every department except furniture marked down. (Historically, furniture is marked down in late spring and late fall. Subject to change of course.) 

When does the tag sale begin?
Updated 4:40 PM: the sale will start tomorrow, Dec. 21.

Will I be able to get price adjustments during the tag sale?
For normal markdowns, yes. By normal markdown I mean items receiving a first, second, third, etc. cut. Any “promotional” cuts, for example take 20% off all sale items, may not be eligible for PAs. Your experience will likely vary depending on your local store or the customer service rep you speak with. (Lame, I know.)

Will my store open early on tag sale day?
Possibly. Last year here in NYC 5th Ave and Rockefeller Center did not, but the Soho Anthropologie opened early and had hot chocolate and cookies! So it’s worth calling your local store ahead of time to see.

What about Canada?? And London??
My sources tell me that our international friends will each get in-store tag sales of their own — but probably not until Dec. 26. Online, the tag sale should start at the same time for everyone.

Any tips for a successful tag sale??
Read through my tips in the last tag sale prep post. Beyond those tips, if you’re doing a store search try to call right around store opening hours or about 30 minutes after a store closes. Don’t call during high peak times which are lunch time and between 5:30-7 PM local time. Remember to be polite with SAs even if they don’t give you the answer you want! This time of year is very busy in-store and items will get shuffled around in ways you can’t even imagine. And lastly remember your budget!! It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the excitement. Nothing is more important than sticking to your budget. Have fun but be careful. And as always, happy hunting!

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