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A sidewalk sale is an outdoor sales event that retailers hold to get rid of end-of-season merchandise. In sidewalk sales, merchandise is always placed outside the storefront. Since the outside entrance to most stores has traditionally been off of a sidewalk, this is where the name for the sale originates. Sidewalk sales may be annual, semi-annual or one-time events. A sidewalk sale is usually held in the summer months.
Any type of retail business may have a sidewalk sale. In general though, clothing stores, book stores and gift shops are among the most likely retailers to have these types of sales. Electronics and luxury goods retailers don't usually have sidewalk sales because their goods are expensive and may be easy to steal when placed outdoors away from store security cameras. The only security a small sidewalk sale may have is a cashier watching from inside the store's window. Some may have a table set up outdoors with a cash box to make change, but many of these outdoor sales are set up for customers to pay for their purchases indoors in the store.
A sidewalk sale for a clothing retailer could be as simple as several racks of clothes and some bins of accessories all marked down to between 50% and 75% off. A bookstore's sidewalk sale may feature shelves of books organized by discount prices, such as one rack that is marked two books for the price of one. Some sidewalk sales may involve an entire shopping center or strip mall.
Customers usually like sidewalk sales because they can look for bargains without having to enter the store. Sidewalk sales are also convenient for people that are walking dogs or pushing children in strollers. They benefit retailers by allowing them to entice new customers as items outside the store do attract attention. Having a sidewalk sale is also a great way for retailers to please regular customers as seasonal stock may be reduced by large amounts. Retailers may advertise the sale in advance in local newspapers.
Stores often need rooms for fall and winter items so summer is a great time to mark down items that haven’t sold. Some sidewalk sales may also feature back to school bargains. Events such as face painting and prize draws can help attract customers to a sidewalk sale.
@Bhutan - I have seen those sales and I usually end up spending too much money. Sometimes if you get on a mailing list with the company they will give you advanced notice of these special sales so that you can save up and take advantage of them. That is what I do now.
I don’t shop unless the sales are huge because I always hate when I buy something thinking that it was a good deal and then it goes on a fire sale the following week.
I think that sidewalk sales are really fun and you do get great deals. I think it is smart from a marketing perspective because it shows these incredible deals on the outside of the store and you have to go inside of the store to pay so you will probably pick up additional items.
I see this a lot in outlet malls especially during holidays. Some of the companies that do these shopping sales also offer a list of what the discount would actually end up costing the consumer.
For example if a top is normally $100 and it is advertised at 75% off then both prices would be listed and the 75% off price would be highlighted. This really encourages the customer to buy more because they immediately see the value in their purchases.