Luxury Flash Sale sites fall victim to consumer boredom

Really now. . . how many L.A.M.B. purses, seasonless Hugo Boss dresses, and gourmet cheeses can anyone afford these days?  Apparently, not too many….

no, this is not today's gourmet cheese offering from Gilt Group, but oh, if it was! ;)

BetaBeat reports that several luxury flash sale sites have sustained substantial layoffs in the past few months, including Gilt  Group, the American imitator of Ventee-Privee.  The article gives a heads-up on what’s what at many of the top, and not so top, flash sale sites.  Are they retail flashes in the proverbial pan, or will they have staying power over the long haul of our recessionary times??

Honestly, I signed up for Gilt, Hautelook (owned by Nordstroms), Ideeli, and several others in order to see what was under the hood, so to say.  And here’s my take: they’re boring.  Item offered on a continual basis are handbags, shoes, shoes and handbags.  Maybe some jewelry, maybe some cute underwear (perhaps not in my size.)  There may even be clothing from time to time, but the really good items sell out quickly–or there aren’t any good items to begin with.

The thing is, shopping, for me anyway, is a way to satiate that old hunter-gatherer instinct.  There’s something incredibly satisfying about getting out of the house to go hunting and gathering–so much more funthan pointing and clicking.  Sure, I can send something back if it turns out not to be what I want, but I’d rather make that decision before an item gets into my home.  Once an item crosses the threshold, I don’t want to concern myself with packing it up and sending it back, even if the return shipping fees are paid.

The appeal of luxury flash sale sites must be to the suburban McMansion owner who works long hours, lives off credit cards, and believes that status is conferred on those whose wardrobes are branded with big names.   Because, honestly, in small towns we don’t really care about status brands.  And in big cities, status brands are, literally, just around the next corner.

If you really feel the need…

As our economy shifts, the suburban McMansion owner may no longer have the spare credit rating to own a litter of  L.A.M.B. handbags,  let alone care about the status conferred by private vineyard wines and artisanal cheeses.

So, who knows what the long-range is for these sites–some may last, and some may fold.  But since I really enjoy the tactile sensation and hurly burly of hunter-gatherer shopping, I think I’ll spend more time at the malls and outlets and ditch my “memberships” to these sites.  That certainly will cut down on my daily spam intake for sure.

Flash Sale Overload!

Another Flash Sale site? Oh, no Tish, I just can't handle looking at another pair of Louboutins!

This morning, as I was updating my Facebook status, an ad appeared for another one of those Flash Sale sites..

For those of you who don’t know what that is, a flash sale site is a website that offers special deals on designer clothing, home furnishings, travel packages, etc. for limited time periods.  Many of the flash sale sites are for members only, while all you need is an email addy and password for others.  Sales can last from several days to several hours.  With some sites you can earn points towards purchases for signing up friends.  Examples of flash sale sites that I belong to are ideeli, Gilt Group, and Haute Look.

Not that I’ve ever made a purchase on any of them.   I find that for me, a dedicated frugalista, these sites function as look books, where I make mental notes on designers, cuts, colors and fabrics–which then makes it easier to find that unique, on-trend look when I hit some of my favorite shops.

I guess, too, the other thing I don’t like about flash sale sites is that it’s difficult for me to buy something as, say, a $270 Hugo Boss dress, because I would like to try it on first.  As an Average Woman, my size ranges anywhere from a 12 on a good day, to a 16 on a badly cut designer day (if I can find a 16, that is.)  Not knowing the cut of a particular designer’s clothing or shoes, nor how the dress will look,  causes me to hesitate before making a costly, disappointing, online ordering mistake.

All I can think of is the *great* Michael Kors dress I found in Macy’s, on sale, that looked fantastic on the mannequin, and utterly dreadful on me.  Not to mention that Kors’ extra-large was (happily, though) too large for me.   Could you have imagined how I would have felt if I’d ordered it online?  I would have had to stare at my disappointment for several days (or in my case, several months) before I returned it.  And then the hassle of waiting for the credit to appear back on my account…ugh!

I guess if you know the way a particular designer’s clothes fit,  or if you’re ridiculously model thin, the whole return thing isn’t a big concern….

The bigger question though, is do we need another flash sale site?  Maybe the folks who set it up think so, but the flash sale strategy is usually aimed at young female consumers with an unquenchable thirst for FASHION.

I’m not sure how long, nor how many sites, a strategy like that can support.

As usual, it will be interesting to see what happens to all these flash sale sites in a few years.  For now, I’m suffering from flash sale site overload.