Each year, customer visits and purchases dip significantly in the fall. It’s an interesting trend, and one that many lingerie retailers report. I’ve heard many theories, from wardrobe shifts to strained budgets. The suggestion has also been made that people tend to wait for sales that pop up between Labor Day and the post-Thanksgiving shopping boom. As the annual slowdown looms, it seems like a good time to talk about those “sales” and present The Snark-Free Response to “Can I Get This Bra Cheaper Online?”
Snark-Free is sincere! We get it. Quality bras can be expensive- for some very valid reasons– and most of us have limited resources that we need to allocate wisely. Even the most affluent folks usually don’t like throwing money away.
The short answer to “Can I get this bra cheaper online?” is, “Probably not.” In the lingerie world, most reputable brands have policies that require all retailers carrying their products to adhere to uniform pricing guidelines. These policies go by various names: VAP (Value Assurance Policy), MAP (Minimum Advertised Pricing Policy), MRP (Minimum Retail Price Policy), or UPP (Unilateral Pricing Policy). Their purpose is to safeguard the brand’s viability and reputation, protect the investment of its retailers, and prevent resellers from undercutting each other in a race to the bottom. In essence, it protects small brick-and-mortar businesses like ours from being trampled by massive online storefronts who do a ton of sales volume. The penalty for any retailer, whether they operate online or in a physical shop, for violating these policies is that the brand will no longer supply them.
An exception to this is discontinued products. Once a style or colorway stops being produced, the pricing policy is no longer in effect. If you look at some of the big online bra retailers, you’ll notice that they typically give a price range for a given bra style. Click further, and you’ll discover that the basic colors (usually neutrals, beige and black) as well as the latest season’s colors are full price while older seasonal colors are marked down. These are clearance items, essentially; the size range will be incomplete and consist of the least common sizes. It’s much easier to score a deal online when you need a 28HH rather than a 36DD. The same size-fracturing happens with clearance items in brick-and-mortar stores, including ours: what’s left is what’s left. It just so happens that we have a huge clearance rack jam-packed full of older items we’d love to move out!
Watch out for online sellers presenting these clearance markdowns as “sales.” (We’ve discussed this practice in detail here on the blog in a previous post.) Some brands do run a couple of authorized promotions throughout the year where their stockists are allowed to offer discounts, but these are infrequent and the markdowns modest: usually around 15%. Anyone advertising “Up to 70% off Brand X!” isn’t giving you a price cut on current inventory; to do so would jeopardize their relationship with that brand. Also, brands themselves may operate online storefronts, but once again, the prices will be the same that you’ll find in-store here at Grail.
Lastly, we hope that you consider that when you shop with us or other bra-fitting boutiques, you’re getting more than just a bra, the product. You’re also getting a collaborator to help you navigate the ridiculous world of bra sizing, the experience of someone who can help guide you to styles right for your individual body, and the ability to try a variety of bra options before putting any money down. Your business keeps us in business. 😊 We are so grateful for all of our customers who give us that opportunity.