A sample sale is a temporary event used by retail businesses to liquidate excess merchandise. Sample sales can take place in physical locations or online, and they offer production samples and excess inventory at prices that are steeply discounted from retail. For shoppers, these sample sales are the perfect opportunity to get a brand-name item at a fraction of the price. Due to the nature of the event, most events are final sale and security is tight. Shoppers use apps and aggregation sites, such as ShopDrop app to find information about when and where said sample sales are taking place. Most physical sample sales take place in NYC and LA, with smaller sample sale communities in Miami and London. In 2020, many brands shifted their sample sales to online venues so that people can shop from the comfort of their home.
There are two sample sale seasons per year: October-December and March-May. During those seasons, the majority of brands host a sample sale. On a weekly basis during high-season there can be more than 50 sales per week. Most brands will run a sample sale twice a year, with some running a sale more sporadically, depending on when they have enough merchandise to liquidate. There are sample sales during off-season as well. However, they are spread further apart and most of the sales are for smaller boutique brands.
The discount at sample sales varies from brand to brand, however, most sales discount their merchandise anywhere between 60% to 85% off retail. It is possible to find some items selling for 90% off, that is more the exception than the rule. Many sample sales will have racks with one-of-a-kind samples and irregulars that are more steeply discounted than the rest of the merchandise. Others will continue to increase the discount percentage toward the end of the sale.
Depending on the season, there can be anywhere from five to one hundred sample sales per week.
With the massive city shut down in March 2020, many brands opted to move their sample sales online during this period. While some brands can’t wait to return to physical store sales, other brands are looking forward to keeping all or some of their merchandise online to reach a wider array of customers.
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