How Final Sale Lingerie Can Be(come) More Expensive Than Full Price Lingerie

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What is Sale Lingerie?

Online, you can buy sale lingerie several ways. You can use a free shipping promotion from a store that usually charges for shipping or use a discount code. You can buy an item that is actually physically discounted whether it be under the label sale or clearance. Some companies offer a gift with purchase, which also classifies as a sale of sorts. Once in a while, these offers can be stacked: such as using a coupon code on top of a sale-priced item.

Sale lingerie simply means you are paying less than the stated retail cost of the item. In turn, the company is taking a smaller profit margin, taking no profit margin, or loosing money. Companies do this for various reasons: to attract new customers, to clear out deadstock, to bring in money in order to fund manufacturing for a product, etc..

The vast majority of physically discounted items – sale / clearance items – are not eligible for return. They are final sale. Final sale policies vary by seller and it is important to always check an individual store’s return policy before placing an order.

Why We Buy Sale Lingerie

As customers, we are the beneficiaries. There are many reasons why we purchase discounted lingerie including:

  • to save money
  • to reduce risk when trying new brand
  • to experiment with different sizes
  • to buy more items with the same/less money
  • to purchase a brand we could never afford at full price
  • we just cannot afford the item unless it is on sale
~ Feel free to add your own reason in the comments below ~

Personally, most of the lingerie in my wardrobe was purchased on sale. My reasons fall into the categories above: 1) to reduce risk as I have an unusual body shape and 2) I simply cannot afford many of the brands I like at full price.

However, buying lingerie on sale has that dark side that few people talk about: final sale. As I mentioned above, the majority of sale lingerie is unable to be returned to the seller. Should you not like the piece, should it not fit, or should you no longer want it… you are suddenly left with your own mini-collection of deadstock. So let us talk unwanted lingerie.

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The Cost of Consumer Deadstock

Deadstock is defined as merchandise that was never sold to or used by consumers before being removed from sale.” I am bastardizing the term a bit but I think my version is quite relevant. To me, consumer deadstock is “merchandise that was sold to but never used by the consumer and is ineligible for return.” This lingerie sits with tags still attached (or not) in draws or storage trunks. For whatever reason, it will never be used. From a cost-benefit point of view, this is 100% WASTED MONEY. You are receiving NO benefit from this lingerie.

While the ratio of consumer deadstock lingerie to well-loved lingerie purchases varies per person, I have had months (years *cough*) where it was at around 50% (don’t tell anyone… 😦 ) as I heavily buy online. You may think this is ridiculously high, but, in the last two months alone, I have received three items that could be considered consumer deadstock. This is after years of learning what works on my body.

The Hidden Cost of Solutions

What are you going to do with lingerie you never wear? I have previously blogged about What to do with Lingerie that Doesn’t Fit, and the solutions amount to: alter it, sell it, donate it.

1) Alterations invest more money into an item that is currently unusable. If alterations result in a wearable piece, then the additional cost may be worth it. However, you need to consider adding on the cost of alternations onto the sale price of the garment to get the true final cost.

Equation: sale price + alterations = final price/value

2) Selling tends to be the most popular way to reclaim lost money from your wardrobe. Facebook Bra Swap groups, Bratabase, Reddit, and eBay are all popular choices. Unfortunately lingerie, like clothing, does not have a very high resale value. It is very difficult to make back your initial investment even if the item was on sale. Buyers need to pay for shipping or you need to build shipping into the price and this added expense will give you a smaller return on the actual item. When assessing value, buyers usually use the retail value and do not consider the taxes you paid or shipping rates you paid. In addition, buying from another person places all risk on the buyer’s shoulders.

There are further financial considerations when using sale outlets like eBay. They charge fees for listing and they receive a cut of both the item’s sale price and the shipping price. To remain competitive, you often have to price your item low and wait months for an item to sell. That is money paid to sell and money tied up in a product until it sells.

Equation: sale price – net income from sale = final price with no value

3) Donating is simple. All of the money you spent on that item is ‘lost’ to you. Now, I believe strongly in donating but from a cost-benefit analysis you have lost 100% off your financial investment.

Equation: sale price = final price with no value

Real-life Example

The cost of having customer deadstock and trying to get rid of said stock can often outweigh the benefits of buying many items on sale. I work better with examples so here is one from my own ledger:

chart

Not only do I no longer own the bra, I have also spent $24.50 USD for the pleasure of not owning that bra. The sad thing is that returns to that store would have cost me no more than $12.50 USD so – in essence – the bra that I no longer own cost me double what it would have should I have bought retail and returned it.

For most lingerie purchased at regular price, the cost of return even if there is a minimal restocking fee is less than the amount of money you will swallow for an item you do not want and cannot return. Now, this example is just ONE item. As a lingerie lover and blogger, I order many items a month so the cost of customer deadstock can escalate quickly.

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Extra Hidden Costs

This article mostly ignores (until now) a couple other integral costs to purchasing final sale lingerie: time and transportation. It takes extra time to get an item altered, dropped off for donation, or given away. It takes a lot of extra time to photograph an item and create listings on various websites in an attempt to resell. It also costs fuel or a bus pass or transit tickets to go to the Goodwill, your friend’s house, the tailor, or the post office. The value of your time and the cost of transportation should be added on to all the previous equations in order to calculate the true cost of your final sale purchase.

Conclusion

When you buy lingerie on final sale, YOU assume all the risk. While we tend to calculate such risk as minimal, it can actually become a formidable cost.

We can a) get stuck with consumer deadstock lingerie, b) swallow the entire cost by donating or giving away, c) add on to the original cost through alterations, or d) resell at a loss that is often quite substantial. This financial loss often cuts into our larger lingerie budget as we end up paying ‘something for nothing’ and this can add up to several hundred dollars wasted per year. Of course, we can also keep the item and be perfectly happy with it. It happens. πŸ˜‰

In addition to this risk of buying final sale items (specifically online), we often use sales as a way to ‘try new things’, which has an inherent risk all of its own as the item is often a size, brand, or style we have not purchased before. Although counter-intuitive for many, it may be better to purchase the more risky items at full price and sure-fire items on sale. With full retail price comes the promise of returns should that risky purchase turn out to not work for you.

What are your views on buying lingerie on sale and customer deadstock?

Note: Do check return policies always. Some full retail-price items, like panties, are often not returnable.

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