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How Nordstrom Engineers Its Annual Anniversary Sale

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Photo: Nordstrom/Facebook

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The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale might be the one place left in retail where promotions fatigue hasn't set in yet. According to WWD, the company starts orchestrating the famous Anniversary Sale 12 months in advance in order to make it feel special enough that people will literally plan vacations around shopping the sale.

In the report, WWD says that new fall merchandise is stocked specifically for the Anniversary Sale and the (brand new) product usually is priced at 33–40% off.  The company knocks down the amount of product it'll carry from popular brands to create a sense of urgency and exclusivity, and it maintains early access for Nordstrom credit card holders. Once the sale is over, the product is marked back up to full price. The approach is clearly working: one shopper interviewed for the story admitted that she spent over $2,000 at the sale.

The Anniversary Sale is just as appealing to vendors as it is to shoppers. "They are able to get really juicy brands to participate like Burberry and Kate Spade — and it would be a nice, brand-new Burberry shirt or a tie at a great deal, not worn-out clearance," an anonymous source told WWD. "It's all Nordstrom stores. It's online, and it keeps growing."