Fashion trends may> come and go, but good deals are always in style.
And they re especially trendy this back-to-school season. Not only are consumers expected to spend about 8% less because of the recession ($549, down $45 from last year), but roughly half of shoppers say they re also waiting for sales and coupons to purchase items on their list, according to the National Retail Federation, an industry trade group.
Deal hunters are seeing plenty of promotions this fall, but retailers have scaled back inventory to avoid a repeat of last year s deep discounting, says Kathryn Finney, founder of TheBudgetFashionista.com, which tracks trends and sales. It s not going to be crazy, cuckoo Saks (SKS)
Still, there are better deals out there for shoppers who know where to look. Try these four sites that keep tabs on the latest deals:
1) Your Retailer s Dot Com
A lot of retailers are moving away from coupon codes because they re not easy to control, says Michelle Madhok, founder of sale and deal tracker SheFinds.com. Many deals expire fast, or are generated for a single shopper to use. With that in mind, consider signing up for your favorite retailers email newsletters so that you ll be aware of deals from the outset -- instead of having to hunt for them. Worried your inbox will overflow? Set up a separate free email account solely for such correspondence.
Sample deal: Tuesday, teen retailer Delia s emailed customers to tell them about new clearance items for sale at 80% off. The store also offered coupon code DXKW75 for free shipping on orders of $75 or more. Offer expires Sept. 8.
Sign up for a free account to receive regular emails from the site about sales on your favorite brands. You can specify sizes and items, says Bronwyn Phonseya, a spokeswoman for MomsLikeMe.com, a social networking site for mothers. That way, you won t give in to a 20% off sale when the shirt you wanted is sold out in your size and color. It s the one email newsletter I read every single day, that I ve never unsubscribed from, she says.
Sample deal: A recent sale mail spotted a French Connection double-breasted coat, originally $268, marked down to $159. A shopper would save 41%.
The worst thing is searching for a code and not knowing if it works, Finney says. This site curbs that problem with an active user community. Visitors click to indicate whether a code worked for them or not. The survey gives old or bad codes a low rating and pushes the best ones to the top of the list, she says. Check user comments that warn consumers that they ll have to pay with a store credit card or avoid sale merchandise to snag the deal.
Sample deal: At Talbots.com (TLB),
Compare prices on your favorite women s, men s and children s fashions from store to store. You can also browse the latest trends, narrowing the lists by whether an item is on sale. Sign up for a free account to receive email notifications when your favorite brands and wish-list items in your size go on sale. The idea is that everything comes to you, Madhok says.
Sample deal: A search found Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star sneakers at a dozen stores ranging from $30 to $52 -- including a pair on sale for $30 on Amazon.com (AMZN)