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Ralph Lauren spring sale?

29 May 2008
Last Wednesday was very exciting. I got an email from my pal Ralph Lauren, informing me there was to be a “private sale” over the following five days – May 15 to May 19. In my experience these private sales mean that the items in the store are on sale, but not marked as such. The sales assistants will reluctantly admit that there is a sale, if pushed (see this posting).

The email promised 40% of most lines, and an extra 20% off on the Thursday. I had bought a pair of Purple Label monk-front shoes at a similar discount a year ago, and they are the most comfortable thing I have ever worn, including slippers and trainers (the Purple Label is made by Edward Green – see this posting). So I was beginning to get excited.

When I turned up on the Thursday, there were no sales signs up. No surprise there. No discounts on the price tags. Again, not unexpected. But when I asked a sales assistant which lines were on sale, he denied all knowledge of it. Given previous experience, I asked a more senior assistant, showing him the print-out of the email. This produced a sigh.

“That sale is only at stores in the US sir, and online,” he said.
“And the online sales are only available for US delivery, is that right?” I asked.
“Yes. We were going to have a spring sale here as well, but that’s been shifted back to June. Management upstairs will be pleased to know this went out to everyone, not just those on the US mailing list. I’ll go tell them now.”

Off he stomped to deliver the bad news. As I turned round I saw someone else walk into the store, clutching a print-out of the same email. I felt a little sorry for the staff. They were going to have a long day.

So, no sale for me. But you heard it here first – there will be a private sale at Ralph Lauren in the UK in mid-June. I couldn’t get them to confirm a date, but there aren’t many weekends in mid-June – my money’s on June 14/15. Also, if any US readers went to this sale on the May weekend, can you report back on what the discounts were? If I remember from last time, there was 40% off Polo and Black Label, 50% off Purple Label.

On a separate point, an article in The Times here last week predicted record discounts this summer, as stores struggle to get cash out of us before the whole world goes into recession. The sales can only be more extreme in the US. So start saving now.