The Saks Fifth Avenue bi-annual consolidation sale starts tomorrow, but like most time honored retail experiences-- it's just not the same as it used to be. The markdown, the selection and the shopping atmosphere have drastically shifted since we've been covering this end-of-season event. Some may blame the shift on the rising popularity of off-price discount stores but whatever the reason it ain't like it used to be.
In the "old days," like 2007, the consolidation markdown would be an additional 25% off the lowest ticketed price. That would mean that the final price would range between 75% and 85% off retail. Today the discount is generally a straight 70% off. That's not bad but not epic either.
The selection within the sale has also changed over the past several years. Recently, we've noticed the absence of designer clothing from Missoni, Pucci, Herve Leger, Dior, Fendi and Chanel. Poof not an item to be found. It's even been difficult to find items from designers like, Dolce & Gabbana, Chloe, Jason Wu, Yves Saint Laurent and Alexander McQueen.
The most undesirable part of the sale, however, is how all the merchandise is exiled to the 9th floor of the department store. Sure, we understand that it might be a bit gauche for fall 2012 to mingle with cruise 2013 but velvet ropes that corral shoppers seems a bit disrespectful to the the customer. Is there no difference from shopping at Saks to shopping an H&M collaboration launch? We wouldn't be surprised if the store started handing out color coded bracelets at the start of the sale.
We have also noticed that this markdown promotion has inched forward by several weeks. In 2009, the consolidation sale started January 21 and ten days is practical a life time in retail. As a matter of fact the Saks Fifth Avenues in Short Hills, Paramus, Stamford, Greenwich and Garden City all still have some winter sale merchandise, which means that most of the consolidation has been within the flagship store itself.
Of course, we will bring you a full report of the sale on Monday but we wouldn't hesitate to stand this one out. If you wait a bit, you might be able to take advantage of true end-of-season discounts or you can just wait for next year to begin stalking your local Off-Fifth.