Amanda Sanders
Amanda Sanders
NYC's Top Fashion Consultant & Personal Shopper

As Barneys files for bankruptcy, here are the best ways to get a designer deal

Published: Aug 7, 2019 9:29 a.m. ET
By Jeanette Settembre

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Drew Angere/Getty Images

Drew Angere/Getty Images

Barneys New York, Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor have tried to get customers to spend more money in stores amid rising rents and competition from online retailers

Barneys, the iconic luxury department store, filed for bankruptcy this week.

The struggle to get shoppers into high-end retailers is real.

Barneys, the 96-year-old New York City mecca of high fashion, announced on Tuesday it would close 15 of its 22 stores, including locations in Las Vegas, Chicago, Seattle and many of its outlets after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. It’s the result of rising rent costs at brick-and-mortar department stores, and declining foot traffic with fierce competition from e-commerce sites.

The Barneys Warehouse sale is offering a 70% clearance sale currently on designer clothing, shoes and jewelry.

As consumers increasingly turn to online retail and subscription box clothing and rental services, Barneys joins a number of high-end institutions that have had to shutter some locations recently. Other iconic shopping destinations like Lord & Taylor and Henri Bendel flagships on Fifth Avenue have closed this year after 104 years and 123 years in business, respectively.

Indeed, customers spent $513.6 billion shopping online in 2018, the U.S. Department of Commerce estimated, up 14.2% on the previous year. And online sales of luxury items are slated to grow at twice the market rate capturing 18% of all sales revenue by 2023, according to Statista’s Luxury Goods Report.

High end retailers have boosted efforts to lure customers with trendy pop-up stores, in-store promotions and exclusive merchandise.

In March, Barneys launched a luxury cannabis boutique called The High End, a head shop selling smokers’ accessories like rolling papers, leather ashtrays, bespoke glass bongs and cannabis-infused candies at its Beverly Hills location.The hip collaboration was aimed at its Manolo Blahnik wearing, marijuana-smoking customers who might be interested in spending $1,475 for a sterling-silver pot grinder.

Last year, Saks Fifth Avenue aimed to capitalize on the wellness obsession with a temporary pop-up dedicating a whole floor at its New York City flagship, offering boutique fitness classes, meditation, a salt room and juices. It was an attempt to complement the leggings and yoga pants for sale on the same floor.

Here’s how to shop smart by taking advantage of sales in Barneys (and other) stores:

Promo codes and discount cards

Before you buy anything in stores or online, look for a promo code or coupon. Groupon is offering 40% off some items at Barneys this week. Other coupon sites, like RetailMeNot, offer 10% off to shoppers via an email sign up. And Barneys is currently offering 10% off when you sign up online for U.S. orders only.

Save your money for Labor Day

Save up for Labor Day –– there’s likely going to be a big holiday sale, New York City-based stylist Amanda Sanders says. “They always go up to 40% off right around Labor Day or before Christmas,” Sanders told MarketWatch.

Check out the Barneys Warehouse

Sanders says shoppers can also get up to 40% off at outlet stores. However, she advises customers to proceed cautiously, as some items are typically made specifically for these outlet stores. She recommends shopping the Barneys Warehouse online rather than in store for best selection.

The Barneys Warehouse sale is offering a 70% clearance sale currently on designer clothing, shoes and jewelry. Some Prada handbags are selling for $224.70 (originally marked $749).

Wait until the Barneys fire sale

The real deals, however, often come when a store is going out of business. On its final day, Lord & Taylor had a blowout sale selling clothing items that once cost as $100 for as low as $5.99. Shopping experts say it may be worth waiting until fire sales at Barneys stores.

Barneys says it will continue to operate as a retail destination in markets with the most demand including its Madison Avenue flagship in New York City, San Francisco, Boston and Beverly Hills and online. It’s currently offering up to 75% off on designer collections from brands such as Altuzarra, Tom Ford, Balenciaga, Chloe and Givenchy.

Online bargain-basement apps

Apps like Lyst, Yoox, which is part of the Yoox Net-a-Porter Group, and Poshmark, which sells new and used clothing, jewelry and accessories, make it easy and affordable for shoppers to buy barely-worn and even new designer pieces for less –– like this $190 Dior monogram bag (originally $950), to a $185 Gucci Belt (originally $460).