My Most Powerful Shopping Secret: How to Shop at Lord & Taylor for Cheap

When you see the sign for Lord & Taylor, you should not be intimidated by the artificially high prices of new inventory. The possibilities for major savings are infinite!

When you see the sign for Lord & Taylor, you should not be intimidated by the prospect of artificially high prices on new inventory. The possibilities for major savings are infinite!

As someone with a reputation for being able to buy anything and everything at rock bottom prices, I am often inundated with requests to join friends in their shopping excursions. With a few rare exceptions, I go shopping solo, to the chagrin of many. I do this not because I am anti-social (I frequently chat with store employees and friends whom I bump into), but rather because I feel that my slow perusal of all the racks will bore them and make them impatient. To everyone’s surprise, myself included, I find the best bargains (or as I say in Hebrew, metzias) at Lord & Taylor. The other day I had an incredibly successful trip there, paying barely 10% retail. Having critically analyzed Lord & Taylor’s business structure, I have uncovered a foolproof way to exploit maximum savings.

Lord & Taylor markets itself as being glam and too expensive for the layman. Who goes around looking like this?

Lord & Taylor markets itself as being glam and too expensive for the layman. Who goes around looking like this?

When I tell people who are on a tight budget to try Lord & Taylor, I am met with severe skepticism. The public perception is that it is an upscale chain geared toward the Upper-Middle class. Lord & Taylor promotes this image by selling luxury labels and formal attire. Moreover, you often see well-off, middle-aged women shopping for a cocktail dress for the new season. But then, of course, there’s me, looking disheveled in a graphic t-shirt and a messy bun, and on the prowl for a good deal.

Lord & Taylor facilitates the bargain hunting process. However, you must be willing to exhibit self-control. No matter how much you fall in love with something from the new season’s shipment, you must resist buying. Paying the original, full price is antithetical to the fundamentals of bargain hunting, and it pains me to know that the store can successfully take complete advantage of you.

Don't worry if you forget to print it-you can get Lord & Taylor to automatically text it to you!

Don’t worry if you forget to print it-you can get Lord & Taylor to automatically text it to you!

In order to maximize savings, it is critical that Lord & Taylor is both having a sale and is circulating a coupon; if you go when only one is true, you will not achieve the absolute best deals. The possible coupons issued are 15% off regular priced items, 20% off sale and clearance, and, my personal favorite, $20 off $40 or more. (You can even combine the latter with one of the former coupons!)  My theory for why Lord & Taylor began issuing the money bonus coupons is to increase the cash flow in the stores; even with a loss of $20, it will still increase its cash on hand by at least $20, if not more (it is often difficult, but certainly not impossible, to spend exactly $40). But be careful, as sometimes you are not able to use the savings pass on their special Anniversary Sale, which is currently going on. In order to get the biggest bang for your buck, flock to the clearance rack and use these coupons- you will get savings on top of the discounted prices. Clearance often has a stigma attached to it. However, in Lord & Taylor, with its selection of fancy clothing and shoes, this section is of the same quality as the rest of the store, albeit a bit messier.

This is another good deal I got. Unfortunately, the employees were very anal about the minimum purchase price being $40; $39.99 was too little. Not to be deterred, I headed to the clearance section in the socks department. That put me over the minimum required balance, and I got the sweater for around $16. A good deal, considering the fact that it is Cashmere(so soft)!

This is another good deal I got. Unfortunately, the employees were very anal about the minimum purchase price being $40; $39.99 was too little. Not to be deterred, I headed to the clearance section in the socks department. That put me over the minimum required balance, and I got the sweater for around $16. A good deal, considering the fact that it is Cashmere(so soft)!

This plan sounds good in theory, but does it work? Yes. Recently, I bought a dress that, on clearance, was $30, but with a 20% coupon, cost $24. On Friday, I returned to Lord & Taylor and found a nice shirt for $10. A light bulb went off in my head. I returned the dress and rebought it with the shirt, for a total price of $40. I had a $20 off $40 bonus coupon as well as the 20% coupon, and ultimately paid $16-paying less for 2 items than what I had originally paid for just the dress. Did I mention that the dress is Ralph Lauren and originally retails for $135? If that isn’t proof enough, then I do not know what will convince you!

Part of the appeal of Lord & Taylor is that shoppers can have a shopping experience in a neat, relaxed ambience. By having so much clothing, Lord & Taylor often gets cluttered and messy. An aesthetically unappealing store will deter customers, guaranteed.

Part of the appeal of Lord & Taylor is that shoppers can have a shopping experience in a neat, relaxed ambience. By having so much clothing, Lord & Taylor often gets cluttered and messy. An aesthetically unappealing store will deter customers, guaranteed.

The reason I am able to get such good deals is not only due to my penchant for perceiving them from a distance. Lord & Taylor in particular has a terrible business model, which makes bargain hunting extremely easy. The main reason Lord & Taylor is not growing like its competitors is due to a major flaw: excessive inventory. Lord & Taylor gets far too much clothing and shoes, much more than it can possibly sell. Consequently, it is often forced to sell them at the end of the season at a loss.  One would think that a chain that prides itself on its exclusive ambience would try to distinguish itself from Target, which often suffers a similar problem. The only difference, though, is that Target has a high inventory turnover rate, meaning that the goods do not stay on the shelves for very long before being bought. This is not the case with Lord & Taylor, where a pricy item will linger on the rack. And forget about trying to clench an extra discount by pointing out that something is ‘Defective Merchandise’. Normally, stores do not want such inventory, and are willing to sell it at a discount because people will otherwise not buy it. Lord & Taylor corporate policy, on the other hand, is now not to give discounts for such items, but rather to ship them back to headquarters. Not only do they make a loss by not selling the good, but also they must pay even more to transport it again. Another bizarre policy I have noticed is of returning clearance priced items back to the original price (if the same style is reissued for the new season). Suddenly, my Sperry’s that I bought for $24 scan for $80!

I am afraid that these bad policies will lead to the demise of my favorite store. I love getting a terrific bargain, but I would be upset if Lord & Taylor were forced out of business due to mismanagement. Regardless of the corporate policies, it would behoove you to immediately take advantage of the possibility for extreme savings!

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Published in: on March 30, 2014 at 4:38 am Comments (0)


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