Are flash sale websites a good deal?


According to a recent survey, flash sale sites are seeing an increase in traffic over the last year. These sites are different from group buying websites, because instead of a few items up for grabs each day, flash sale sites offer a boutique of items, and some shoppers can't resist.

When the clock hits 10am, online shopper Ann Herlocher is usually near her computer, waiting to check out the latest flash sale. She is a fan of several flash sale websites.

"I do Rue La La, One Kings Lane, Zulily is another one," she said.

And Ann has found the deals are really good. She purchased a pink bag for the summer for $90 but the original price was $165. A lime green wallet was another one of her finds. The original price was $90, but Ann's out of pocket expense was just $35.

"I have nothing but positive experiences with these sites," she said.

Melissa Liebling-Goldberg, a Houston native with the flash sale website Gilt Groupe, says the company goal is to give shoppers access to goods at a great price point.

"Every day you get something new and surprising to delight you and to have fun shopping with," Liebling-Goldberg said. "So we try to really deliver a new and unique experience every day."

On one day on Gilt, a Monique Lhuillier dress that retails for $498 was offered at the Gilt price of $199. A Furla bag that retails for $498, was$249 on the flash sale price. A designer men's shirt that retails for $199, was $39 on Gilt -- more than 80 percent off!

But there are some things to keep in mind. Once you place an item in your cart, you are immediately on the clock -- usually ten minutes.

"They do give you a limited time, so you can't sit there and contemplate your purchase, you have to be ready to buy it and buy it then, because someone can come in and purchase it right from under your feet," Ann explained.

Monica Russo with the Better Business Bureau warns consumers of making impulse buys based on pressure. "The sense of urgency is a very well known sales technique," she said. "It's a marketing technique."

Russo says other things to keep in mind on these flash sale sites:

  • Some items are non-returnable
  • You will have to pay for shipping in most cases
  • The turnaround time to ship items can average 14 to 21 days
  • Russo also suggests you do your homework by price comparing online to see if you can actually find the same item on another site for a better price.

    You have to become a member to use the flash sale websites, but membership is free. Once you join, you will get at least one email a day from the site reminding you about current sales.
    Some flash sale websites:

  • Gilt
  • Zulily
  • One Kings Lane
  • Rue La La
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