How to Navigate Department Stores
Ah, July. That transitional, dead-of-summer month that’s too early for the Fall collections to hit the stores, yet too late to actually want to invest in a new bikini. There’s almost always a reason for a sale. July seems to hold great potential for shoppers frequenting the department store circuit, but how are we to sift through the piles of clearance, isles of discount cosmetics, and racks of couture to find the perfect product?
Follow our 4 step guide for navigating a department store.
1. Know what you’re looking for, and don’t forget about it.
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Sometimes the most difficult part of shopping is choosing where to start. Department stores seem daunting, but they’re often created as a user-friendly (or shopper-friendly!) as possible. They’re created to make your shopping experience easy, but with the sheer volume of options, us shoppers are often consumed by variety and distracted by shiny things (read: unreasonably tall stilettos).
So, before you set foot in the store, set a goal, and don’t let yourself get sidetracked until you’ve bought what you need. Before even glancing at those slide-sandals or suede slip-on sneakers, get that dress, that ceramic bowl or whatever you came in looking for.
2. Know your price-point
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This dictates where you shop in the first place. If you’re looking to save on trendy, casual clothes and pick up some toiletries along the way, head to Target. If you’re looking for affordable home goods, maybe don’t start in Nordstrom’s, but rather check out Marshall’s Department Store, or Macy’s Home Goods first. If you’re looking to cash-in on an evening gown, or that chic top you saw on the runway, head to Neiman Marcus.
That being said, don’t write off department stores based on their reputation – many Lord & Taylors have an entire floor dedicated to affordable evening and formal wear, and often in the back of Nordstrom’s, behind the endless, ever-tempting racks of high-end women’s wear there is a reasonably priced section of cocktail and evening attire tucked away. And there’s always the outlets! Nordstrom Rack and Neiman Marcus Last Call are notorious for high-end steals.
3. Know the lay of the land.
So, you walked into a department store with a “just 20 minutes” mantra in your head, and left three hours later with an armful of bags, and maybe some regret, too – we’ve all been there. Even if you’re simply in the mood to spend with no particular product in mind, resist the urge to flock to the first thing you see. Instead, take a lap. Wander a bit – but don’t touch anything (as painful as that might be!). See what’s in stock, what’s new, what you like, and make a mental note to come back to it. That way, you’ll not only know what’s being offered, but also be able to budget yourself financially and in terms of time management.
4. Know when you want it, plan ahead.
Department stores always have sales, markdowns, and coupons floating around magazines and the Internet, so unless you’re looking to elbow your way through the crowds, don’t flock to the alleged markdowns no matter how many times you hear “annual” and “biggest sale of the year.” If you need something for Labor Day, head to the shops now. Don't fall victim to the last minute sale purchase that you can't return. Try and strategize the right time to buy.
How do you navigate department stores? Let us know your tips in the comments below!