When is sample sale season?

Posted 2 years ago

The mysterious "sample sale season" varies from city to city. We look at the stats to find out exactly when sample sale season is!

When is sample sale season?

Whether you're new to sample sales or a seasoned bargain hunting professional you will have heard people talk about sample sale season. But what is it, why is it and when is it?

Sample sales originally began as a way for brands to sell "samples" - one off production prototypes that were produced when designing the latest collections. These samples were often production quality, but were never produced in large numbers and were therefore never shipped to store or sold online - so you could get an original item from a top designer at an amazing price.

As sample sales have become more popular these genuine "sample" sales are often supplemented or entirely replaced by excess stock clearances - so past season and archive stock that was not sold through retail in time for the next season to arrive, and so is sold at a large discount. These sales are still sometimes called sample sales, but you'll also hear them called warehouse sales or archive sales.

Because of the nature of sample sales they very commonly come at the end of fashion seasons. But when is that? A lot depends on the brand - some of whom are rejecting the traditional seasons approach completely - but traditionally the last delivery date for Spring/Summer is the end of May, and the last delivery date for Fall is the end of September - and that's when you'll usually start to see the volume of sample sales ramping up.

Comparing City by City

Because the fashion markets are different in different cities - the sample sale seasons are subtly different in each one too. For example in New York, there is a clearly defined sample sale season for Spring in April to June, and then a massive peak for Winter in November and December:

Sample sale seasons in New York

In London the pattern is similar, but the Winter peak is not so dramatically pronounced, making for a slightly more even chart:

Sample sale seasons in London

However note that in London the scene is completely dead in both January and August - while New York hardly ever has a very quiet month in Summer/Autumn at all.

In LA the pattern still peaks in December, but the rest of the year is much more even, due in part to the monthly sample sale events that occur at the various fashion markets in DTLA, such as the Cooper Design Building, California Market Center and New Mart Building:

Sample sale seasons in LA

So now we know the seasons, when should you shop?

Clearly there is very well defined seasonality for sample sales, but what does this mean for shoppers? Well, first thing to note is that quantity does not always equal quality - there are many amazing sample sales during the peak sample sale season but even in off season there can be occasional sale events that bargain hunters just should not miss. At Chicmi we're on the lookout for sample sales all year long - and as a shopper you can sometimes find that hitting an off-season sale can be a more pleasant experience and give you a higher chance of grabbing something really special.

The second takeaway though is make sure you're prepared for Christmas! All three markets we've studied here have significantly pronounced peaks in sample sales over the festive season, so prepare your wallet and your bank balance for an onslaught well in advance to make sure that you don't miss out!

Keep up to date with sample sales

To ensure you don't miss out on any sample sales, make sure you're on our free daily or weekly mailing lists. You can sign up here.

If you're a brand organising a sample sale then you can check out our business solutions or go ahead and submit your event for listing on Chicmi.

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