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By Brad Tuttle
June 22, 2020
Courtesy of Amazon

Amazon’s first-ever “Big Style Sale” launches on Monday, June 22. And, like most things Amazon does, this “Big” sale is BIG: The e-retail giant promises thousands of deals on brand-name fashion, footwear, and accessories, with discounts of 40% off or higher, spread out over the course of a full week.

Announcing a random sale like this is par for the course for Amazon, but this event isn’t popping up entirely out of the blue. The coronavirus pandemic has crushed the retail industry, and no category has suffered as much as clothing — which saw a 89% drop in April, year over year, according to Census Bureau data.

Months of self-isolating and quarantining have meant that people weren’t going to work or socializing, at least not at normal levels. One way that people have been saving more money is that, perhaps outside of sweatpants, there hasn’t been a need to buy clothes when all everyone is doing is hanging around the house. What’s more, even though online shopping has grown in popularity, clothes tend to be more of a spontaneous in-person shopping experience. People like to touch and try on clothes before buying, and it’s been impossible to do this when stores are closed.

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Even as malls and stores reopen, retailers are sitting on an enormous amount of merchandise that went unsold over the past few months. That’s why shoppers can expect major deals on clothing this summer, including this new sale from Amazon. Here’s everything you need to know about it.

Amazon Big Style Sale: Where Do You Find the Best Deals?

Here’s the page where Amazon Big Style Sale deals will appear, and new deals will pop up every few hours. The sale runs for seven days, starting on Monday, June 22, and wrapping up on Sunday, June 28.

Like most Amazon sales, the deals during this weeklong fashion event will vary widely. Some will last only a few hours (or less if they sell out quickly), while others will linger for several days. Shoppers can look forward to discounts on Ray-Ban sunglasses, Nicole Miller handbags, footwear from New Balance, Reebok, and Crocs, and fashions from dozens if not hundreds of brands, including labels like Levi’s, Armani, Van Heusen, Tommy Hilfiger, Lacoste, Hanes, Dockers, Columbia, and Calvin Klein. Amazon’s own various brands of clothing, which are sold under labels like Goodthreads and Amazon Essentials, are on sale too, of course.

The level of discounting will vary widely, too. Based on sneak previews, most major labels should be offering discounts in the neighborhood of 30% to 40% off list prices, but some of the deals are only 10% or 15% off, and still other markdowns will give well over 50% off.

Many items are listed at plain old regular price too. For example, when the sale launched on Monday, Amazon promoted “up to 30% off Adidas.” When you sift through the merchandise at the Adidas page, it’s not always clear which sneakers and apparel are actually on sale, or what the level of discounting is. You’ll have to select the exact color and size of each item to see if it’s discounted, and by how much.

Is This the Same as Amazon Prime Day?

No. Amazon Prime Day launched in 2015 as a one-day sales event in mid-July, billed as a “summertime Black Friday,” with a huge range of deals available exclusively for Prime members. Promotions have run the gamut from housewares to hammocks, and there have been some genuinely bizarre items on sale. But overall the emphasis on Prime Day has been similar to Black Friday and Cyber Monday — with the most popular and best deals on things like smart TVs, Instant Pots, and Amazon devices.

The Amazon Big Style Sale, by contrast, will focus exclusively on clothing and fashion, and it’ll run for a full week. Also, there is no need to be a Prime member to take advantage of the deals — they should be available to all shoppers. (Even without Prime membership, you can get free shipping on most Amazon purchases, so long as you make a $25 minimum purchase and you’re OK with slower delivery, which takes about a week to arrive.)

It’s also worth noting that it looks like Amazon Prime Day is being postponed for 2020. Amazon has yet to confirm this information, but several media outlets have cited sources who say that Amazon Prime Day 2020 won’t take place in July and will likely be pushed back to September.

So, Will Amazon Have Good Deals or What?

Yes and no. As mentioned above, the level of discounting during the Big Style Sale will vary widely, and not everything is on sale. Also, the percentage discount hardly tells the whole story to a shopper hunting for genuinely good deals.

It’s important to understand that the list prices at Amazon — and from many other retailers — can be notoriously sketchy, especially when it comes to clothing. It’s standard practice for retailers to use inflated list prices (or “original” or “compare to” prices) for items, so that the inevitable discounts seem bigger and more impressive to shoppers. Just look at Cyber Monday, when major clothing sellers like Gap, Abercrombie & Fitch, Calvin Klein, and J. Crew offer site-wide discounts of 50% or more on everything.

Why are inflated list prices more common with clothing than other items? Well, for so many people, new clothing purchases are hardly a necessity. (If your closet is full of clothing you never wear, you’re hardly alone.) So, in order to manipulate shoppers into feeling a sense of urgency to buy more clothes, retailers often have huge markups on list prices. They know relatively few shoppers will pay full list price, but that original high dollar figure allows the store to offer a seemingly amazing discount that’s hard for some customers to pass up. For whatever psychological reason, a $100 sweater marked down to $50 is much more exciting than if that same sweater was always listed at $50. (Meanwhile, the store is probably happy to get $50 for it, or even $30.)

So how do you tell if a particular Amazon Big Style Sale deal — or any item on sale anywhere, for that matter — is actually a deal?

There are a few strategies you can employ. One is looking back at the brand’s deals on Cyber Monday or other big sales events, when retail competition is fierce and discounts tend to be steep. If the current price you see is in the same neighborhood as a major sale from the past, then it’s probably a pretty darn good deal.

Also, check out Amazon price-tracking tools, such as Keepa and CamelCamelCamel. These resources allow you to see how much Amazon (and third-party sellers) have been charging for any product you plug into the search box. Often, what you find is that the price typically available on the site is far less than the misleadingly high list price.

Finally, try to totally ignore the list price, and instead take a hard look at the final sale price that you’d be paying. If you saw this figure, without the inflated list price next to it, would you think it’s truly an amazing deal? Would it be such a bargain you couldn’t pass it up? Do you need to have it? You may want to take a look what’s already inside your closet before answering.

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