How To Shop The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale

How to shop the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale: tips and strategies. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Aaaand, it’s almost that time again. The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale is one of the few sales I’ve actively planned ahead for and shopped for over a decade. What makes this sale different is that the items are brand new for fall, rather than picked over pieces from the current season. Granted, some years are better than others, but I’ve learned to approach it with realistic expectations and be selective. And I’ve also learned to keep my eyes and mind open, because I sometimes stumble across some great finds that I might have otherwise overlooked.

Nordstrom card holders can shop beginning July 12. (If interested, you can apply for the card online here. I find the rewards program is a great incentive to use it when I shop there.) The sale opens to everyone on July 20.

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale 2018: Shopping Strategies

Shopping this sale can be overwhelming because there’s just So Much Stuff. And yes, some popular items do sell out quickly. So I’ve learned to take a strategic approach when the sale goes live that I’ve shared below.

Consider this a “cheat sheet” you can bookmark and refer back to it once you’re ready to start shopping.

First Pass

This is my most targeted approach. I’ll take a gander at the sale catalog, and see if there are any specific items that catch my eye. Items in the catalog will often be the first to sell out. If you haven’t received a catalog in the mail, you can pick one up in a store or view online here: CATALOG

Once the sale is live, you can click through from the catalog to the item shown. Or you can search directly by product name. But there’s usually MUCH more included in the sale than appears in the catalog, so…

Second Pass

Now I’m going to see what’s offered in the sale from brands I like or normally buy. Such as…

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Third Pass

Next, I’ll have a list of any specific items I might be looking to replace or update, and will search by category. For example:

Fourth Pass

I may wait a day or so to clear my head, then I’ll do what I call a “stream of consciousness” lap, just scrolling through broad categories (e.g. Clothing, Shoes, Beauty, Jewelry) to see what catches my eye that I might have overlooked. (I’ve actually found some of my best Anniversary Sale purchases this way.)

Keep In Mind…

  • Many popular items may sell out quickly. If you’re unsure of sizing, you might want to order multiple sizes to try. Shipping and returns are free, so it’s a risk-free proposition.
  • If something you wanted is sold out in your desired size or color, don’t despair! Bookmark it, and keep checking back regularly throughout the sale. Many people will do what I’ve suggested above, and will be returning items that didn’t fit or didn’t work for them. I’ve often seen items become available again after a few days.
  • If you live near a Nordstrom location you can order items online to pick up at the store, depending on availability. You can often pick up the same day, and by ordering online you can guarantee that your favorites won’t be sold out by the time you get to the store.

Once the early access sale begins, I’ll post my “first round” sale picks. I’ll continue to update throughout the sale, so keep checking back. And I’ll be checking out and trying on some of the sale items at the store and posting to my Instagram stories.

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19 Comments

  1. July 5, 2018 / 4:34 am

    Good Morning- A sales person last year referred to an item I had purchased as made specifically for the Anniversary Sale. That made sense to me because I have noticed the same T. Burch boot style only avail. for the sale, several years in a row. I ordered (and returned) several T. Burch bags to check out since I do not close to a store. The bags seemed to be of a bit lower quality than a bag I purchased in the store. So…my question is do you find that many brands make up for the lower prices by selling merchandise made for the sale sort of like outlet and factory stores at discount malls? Asking because yes the prices are lower during the sale but still not inexpensive. Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

    • Susan B
      Author
      July 5, 2018 / 5:26 am

      Hi Nancy, while I don’t have an inside source at Nordstrom, I have also heard that some brands produce items specifically for the sale. As to reduced quality, I haven’t noticed that with items I’ve purchased in the past, but I have also heard this from other commenters. As with any purchase, my advice is to be selective and discriminating, and never buy anything just because it’s on sale if you don’t love it.

  2. Catherine
    July 5, 2018 / 5:14 am

    I’ve also noted, like Nancy, that some of the items made for the Anniversary Sale tend to be of lower quality. I’m a long-time Nordstrom shopper and can say that the Anniversary Sale is not what it used to be. I will still look every year, but don’t always find those must-have items.

  3. RebeccaNYC
    July 5, 2018 / 5:38 am

    A question about logistics….with each of these passes, do you place a separate order? Or do you wait until the 4th pass to finally place one order? Just curious how you manage this. Happy shopping!

    • Susan B
      Author
      July 5, 2018 / 6:11 am

      I’ll usually place an order after each pass.

  4. Mary Clifford
    July 5, 2018 / 7:01 am

    I have been shopping the Anniversary Sale for 35 years now. My first Sale was at 16 with my mom and it became our annual tradition. This year will be the first without my mom due to her failing health. I to shop strategically but have become much more discerning through the years. We go online as soon as it is live, but I still go into the store as I prefer that. I do miss the old sale though before the pre-sale days. (I also miss the piano player and the brown card).

    • Susan B
      Author
      July 5, 2018 / 7:13 am

      Oh, I miss the piano player too!

  5. Clarissa
    July 5, 2018 / 7:35 am

    I have done the sale for 5 years now. Refresh my memory though, please: we cannot put anything in our cart until the sale is live ? Are sale items even shown on the site before it is live? Seems like a like of scrambling. Last year the site got hung up due to so much traffic, and we first day shoppers got a conciliatory 10 rewards points bonus on our purchase for the inconvenience; I would imagine they are better prepared now. I have learned not to get too giddy about the sale pricing; I was happy to get Vince cargo pants at an unnaturally low price (made for sale only?) and 6 weeks later they were marked down 40% and were quite a bit lower than the sale price. Best values for me have been quality bras, and high end cosmetic products. Some of the latter are not in the catalog so I hope they will be online.

    • Susan B
      Author
      July 5, 2018 / 7:39 am

      Correct, some of the sale items can be viewed through the catalog link, but the rest will not be shown online until the sale goes live. And nothing can be added to your shopping bag until the sale is live (July 12 for cardholders, July 20 for everyone.)

  6. July 5, 2018 / 8:23 am

    I’m a relative newbie with the anniversary sale. We’ve only had Nordstrom here in Canada for a short time… at least in eastern Canada. My buddie who works at Nordstrom here in Ottawa sent me the link to the catalogue last year, but so many of the items were not available in Canada it seemed a pointless exercise. Now I take advantage of being a Nordstrom card holder to shop the pre-sale at the store. I prefer to shop in person. And to take advantage of the advice of an on-site sales person I trust, who helps me pick through the racks. She knows what’s a good deal and what’s really just cheaper (in price and quality.) Unless you know the brand and spend a lot of time pricing, I think a trusted salesperson is the best resource.
    Thanks for this Sue:)

    • Susan B
      Author
      July 5, 2018 / 12:26 pm

      Thank you!

  7. Beth
    July 5, 2018 / 6:11 pm

    This is an awesome post, but I have to say I was not “wowed” by this year’s catalog. I hope some brands do offer more items than what are presently online. I’m a big EF fan, and maybe I missed something but I saw no EF at all!

    • Susan B
      Author
      July 5, 2018 / 6:29 pm

      Thanks, Beth. I wasn’t wowed either overall, saw maybe half a dozen items in the catalog that I’ll take a closer look at. I didn’t see any EF included in the catalog either, which was surprising.

  8. July 5, 2018 / 7:12 pm

    My memory may be incorrect, but I believe that “July 12” begins online midnight East Coast – therefor 9:00 pm (July 11)for the Left Coast.

    The catalog was awful this year. My Anniversary Sale strategy (has changed over the last 40+ years) is to look online for items that are standard items (for instance Paul Green shoes ) to see if they are discounted for the sale. Items that are specially made for the AS (like Tory Burch, Marc, Kors) are almost always lower quality. Lots of EF last year specially made for the AS, but quality was good. This year, my favorite bra is discounted – I plan to purchase several.

    Finally, if there is something that you really want and you are close to a store that has the item, MAKE THE EFFORT to go to the store and purchase the item. Last year, my daughter wanted a specific dress – it was available at our local store (Bellevue WA) and we reserved it (paid for it) – but when we went to pick up the next day, there was nothing available. Someone had purchased it off the rack before clerk could read our order and pull the dress.

    • Susan B
      Author
      July 5, 2018 / 7:15 pm

      Hi kathryn, I think they’ve adjusted for time zones. I tried at 9pm last year, but couldn’t shop the sale until 12am PT. 🙁

  9. Eva Gayle Cox
    July 5, 2018 / 8:44 pm

    Hi Susan! On the top left on the pictorial that says “Modern Neutrals”; was that an article? If so I would love to read it or possibly post those larger so we can read what each one says. Any help would be greatly appreciated!!

  10. Daniella
    July 6, 2018 / 12:54 am

    Interesting write up on Nordstrom sale. I’m sure many people would find it useful. I rarely shop Nordstrom as I find most items there too banal and repetitive. I much prefer small boutiques where I can see, smell, touch, feel and try on the items of interest which many times are one of a kind. I don’t buy much online either. I always find something of interest while traveling, whether it’s Lake Como, Chicago or Kathmandu .

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