In a matter of days, the Gap on Walnut Street will close its doors, leaving eight display windows barren and reminiscent of the chain’s better days. A couple blocks down the street, “sale” signs clutter the windows of American Apparel in the wake of the retailer’s bankruptcy. In a building near Domus, the sign for Eastern Mountain Sports remains, while the space stands empty.
The dramatic changes in retail have poked through the Penn bubble and into University City as clothing stores close and Amazon shipping centers pop up. Spending hours at the clothing boutique is fun when you want the experience of trying on luxurious items or digging through vintage frocks, but when you are looking for the best variety at the best prices, online shopping puts it all at your fingertips. Street has the tricks you need to score fashion and beauty steals from the comfort of your bed.
Let retailers pity your college student budget:
If you haven’t signed up yet for an account with Unidays or Student Beans, you're not making full use of your Penn education. These free websites connect you to retailers who give out a daily discount just for having a university email. From Urban Outfitters to Apple, these accounts can help you save big on stores you already love.
If looking for the next ZARA:
The futures of American Apparel and Nasty Gal have been unclear since both companies declared bankruptcy. The replacement for going–out staples and trendy pieces: boohoo.com. This UK online fashion retailer is making strides in the industry; in Wharton terms, the company pushed up its stock by 260 percent in 2016. The fast–fashion retailer is striving to outpace ZARA by turning over trends to consumers twice as fast. The site offers free shipping over $60, no taxes, frequent sales and a 35 percent discount for students on already affordable items.
Cheat on Amazon with its grandkid:
You've probably turned to Zappos.com, owned by Amazon, when you wanted a great selection of shoes. When you want that great variety but even better prices, turn to Zappos' baby, 6pm. By not offering free shipping and only offering a 30–day return policy, the site is able to lower its costs and slash prices by up to 75 percent. Be sure to check out their daily flash deals and sign up for their newsletter to receive surprise coupons.
Skip Sephora; go Ulta:
Ulta has more discounts on the same brands that Sephora stocks. In addition to upscale brands like Clinique or Urban Decay, Ulta carries drugstore favorites like Neutrogena. You can also rack up rewards on the site.
Never visit CVS again:
If Walmart owns it, you know you are going to get great deals. Jet.com rewards customers who make it easier for the company to ship products; for example, you can save money on your favorite face cleanser by choosing the "no returns" option. Free shipping kicks in once your order hits $35, so stock up on essentials you won’t need to return to reap the most benefits.
When using Amazon, price track:
Save on Amazon purchases with camelcamelcamel.com, a free website that allows you to track the price of product on Amazon. Simply enter the product and a price threshold to receive email or Twitter alerts about current price information and availability.
Stop searching, start saving:
You can't search every site to find the cheapest deal on a purchase, but PriceBlink practically can! The free browser plugin automatically scans more than 4,000 stores when online shopping. A yellow bar across your screen lets you know if the item is cheaper on another site or if another retailer has a coupon for it.
Smart Shopping Habits
Play hard to get:
First off, most shopping websites encourage you to create accounts that are well worth the time it takes to sign up. They give you access to exclusive sales, discounts and often reward your purchases. Once you're logged in, leaving an item in your cart can help you squeeze out unseen savings. Within a few days or hours, you will most likely get an email innocently reminding you that something was forgotten. Oops! Let’s hope they added a discount.
Wait for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday:
You already knew the week gets better after hump day, but apparently these are also the days most retailers roll out discounts and sales.
Sort out the subscriptions:
As pretty and price–saving store newsletters can be, they wreak havoc on your inbox. Cue Unroll.me. This free service for the desktop or mobile identifies your subscription emails and organizes them into one digest. You can even choose what hour it's sent to you.
Photos courtesy of Creative Commons and companies' websites.