How To Shop The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale: A 2020 Guide

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Gang, we’ve been looking forward to The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale for months. It’s both a nice distraction from our world right now and — easily — the best sale around. This year, the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale opens August 19 to the public, while Early Access shopping begins August 4 (but it’s a bit complicated – more on that below).

Bottom line: Prices go back up August 31.

One good change, due to COVID circumstances, is that Nordstrom released a comprehensive sneak peek into the sale via the preview — an online catalog of sorts that replaces the traditional Nordstrom Anniversary Sale catalog. Unlike the catalog The Preview includes, well….everything that’s going to be in the sale.

Or *almost* everything. Nordstrom has been adding a few new things every day since the preview was released. And as you read this, the TME editors (myself included, mwahahaha) are rounding up the fashion and beauty pieces we’ll actually be shopping and ordering, and we’re dropping our wish lists, Nordstrom Looks and – a new feature we’re really excited about – capsule wardrobes all week long so you can bookmark what you’ll actually be shopping as soon as you have access to the shop the 2020 Nordstrom Anniversary Sale.

Changes to the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale — our Christmas In July (Christmas in August?) were expected, given the state of our world, so we were anxious to see what it would really look like this year.  Would the sale itself change (will it be smaller? have more sweatpants?) and can we even go in-store to shop?  What will the in-store shopping experience look like?

We’ve got the answers to all your questions here, so keep scrolling. And bookmark our Nordstrom Anniversary Sale 2020 Guide  – this is where we’re highlighting the best pieces from each category in the sale related to fashion and beauty (think sweaters, denim, boots, dresses etc.,) – it’s basically The Mom Edit’s edit of the sale, as well as links to all the articles we’re publishing throughout the sale (including those capsule wardrobes as they get released). Then, if you’re new here, or you just want a bit of nostalgia for Nordstrom Anniversary Sales past, you can find that coverage in the guide too

If you’re up-to-date on the dates of the sale and how it works, and are ready to just get started, here’s what we’re looking at already: (You can head to our up-to-date cheat sheet here or to our full ultimate shopping guide here.)

#DressingRoomSelfies
Shana’s Anni Sale Selfies, Round I (Hint: Lots of Sweatpants)

Capsule Wardrobes:
Shana’s Ultimate Capsule Wardrobe (& Complete Edit)
Best Of Nordstrom Anniversary Sale: A Decidedly SoCal Capsule Wardrobe
Nordstrom Anniversary Sale: The Ultimate Plus-Size Capsule

Best Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Picks: An Animal Print Capsule Wardrobe 
Scotti’s Capsule Wardrobe Worth Investing In 
Scotti’s Comfy Capsule Wardrobe For Now & Later

Nordstrom Looks: (like paper dolls, but we do the work)
Best Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Picks: 5 Cute EILEEN FISHER Outfits
Cute Fall Outfits From The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale
The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Is Live…5 Cute Looks To Get You Excited  

Wish Lists:
Kat’s Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Wish List
Laura’s Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Wish List
Linzi’s Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Wish List
Emily’s Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Wish List 
Cam’s Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Wish List 
Julieta’s Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Wish List
Jess’ Nordstrom Anniversary Sale 2020 Wish List

Um…What Is The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale?

The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale is a bit unique. Unlike other sales, which typically discount in-season or post-season merchandise that didn’t previously sell, the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale offers deep discounts on pre-season items. Which means that all of the bootsbagsjeans and sweaters that you’ll be investing in this fall can be had — at a really discounted price — for a few weeks in August. Once the sale is over, the merchandise goes back up to it’s retail price. It’s a genius concept, really. One that I wish more retailers would copy. The sale will be a bit different this year, so keep reading.

On a personal note….I’ve been shopping this sale for years. And I’ve found, really and truly, even on the years where everything sells out, or the years that everyone complains that it ‘wasn’t as good as last year’ and even on those years when they’re right….I still ended up with pieces I really and truly do wear for years to come. The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale is worth the time invested.

How To Shop The 2020 Nordstrom Anniversary Sale


So far, it looks like the biggest changes to the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale (aside from the preview, which we’ll get back to in a minute) will be to the in-store experience, shipping and/or curbside pick-up.

For those of us who can shop in-store, keep in mind that it will be a very different shopping experience (read more about that here). We’ll likely encounter a bevy of hand sanitizer stations, store ambassadors wearing face masks (and maybe gloves), well-spaced clothing racks, and frequent reminders of social distancing and “healthy habits”. We may see signs imploring us to only touch items if we really intend to buy them. Shoppers are also required to wear masks in all Nordstrom stores (regardless of location) – a move we applaud. But these changes could also mean fewer dressing rooms, as well as try-ons with a face mask.  Furthermore, we’re a bit worried about the selection in-store: Nordstrom is going to put all tried-on pieces into a short quarantine before putting them back on the floor.  It’s smart and safe (I wouldn’t expect anything less from Nordstrom), but…depending on when you go, that piece you’re hoping to snag might be in quarantine.

So the biggest change you’ll likely see this year is that big dressing-room haul — both yours and ours. We won’t be going into dressing rooms this year, and we may have more limited versions of said “haul” since we’ll have a mix of curbside pick-ups and deliveries. BUT, we’ll have just as much coverage, and the online preview gives us the added benefit of planning more curated coverage (aka those capsule wardrobes I mentioned) to help you shop.  I actually think our coverage this year will be…better.  We’re all pretty excited.

For the online shoppers (and I highly recommend taking this route), we imagine that you may wait patiently at home (ha!) for your ginormous online order to arrive via USPS, UPS or FedEx, or that you’ll pull up curbside at your local Nordstrom, and, donning your chic face mask, you might either…send a text indicating your arrival and a sales clerk will meet you at your vehicle?  Or…you’ll go through a pick-up drive-thru, or line up (6 to 10 feet away from everyone else), and wait in line to retrieve your packages.

This year’s sale lasts a little longer than previous years’, due to The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale 2020 preview, which began July 24 for all shoppers. It also looks like each shopping period for Early Access, cardholders and Nordy club members lasts longer (more on that below). We can anticipate that with additional safety measures in place for both employees and customers, in-store and online delivery, this might be a more…intentional (and mindful?) shopping experience than the frenzy we’re used to?

Which actually sounds pretty darn good.

1. When Is The 2020 Nordstrom Anniversary Sale? 

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Dates: The public sale begins August 19, while Nordy Club members/Nordstrom credit card holders get to shop first during Early Access, beginning August 4. However, a new feature this year is the preview, which goes online July 24 (it replaces the usual Nordstrom Anniversary Sale catalog). The sale ends August 30, 2020. Below is a rough timeline for when Nordy Club members and the public get to shop the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale.

July 24: Preview (Digital. Replaces The Catalog. Open For All)
August 4: Nordy Club Icons Shop Early Access 
August 7: Nordy Club Ambassadors Shop Early Access
August 10: Nordy Club Influencers Shop Early Access
August 13: Nordy Club Insiders Shop Early Access 
August 19: Public Sale Begins
August 30: Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Ends
August 31: Prices Go Up

 

The 2020 Nordstrom Anniversary Sale is on! We have all the tips & hacks: dates, Early Access, the catalog/ preview & a shopping strategy for the best deals.

2. Get A Nordstrom Card, Get Early Access

You don’t need a Nordstrom Card (a credit card) to shop this sale. But you do need a Nordstrom Card to shop during that first critical week of the sale — Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Early Access. If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the years, it’s that the best stuff typically sells out during this first “Early Access” week. (More on that, below.) 

If you haven’t already, sign up for a Nordstrom Card, here 

Secondly, if you are really opposed to signing up for a Nordstrom Card (and we’re not able to persuade you otherwise…) there is some value in signing up for The Nordy Club, a free rewards program. There are benefits to using your Nordy Club Card (like an extra $60 bonus note if you sign up before right before the sale, or an extra $40 bonus note good through the beginning of the Anniversary Sale, if you already have a Nordstrom credit card). You can still enroll in The Nordy Club and earn rewards points, even if you won’t get to shop during Early Access week. You can earn rewards at Nordstrom, Nordstrom.com, Rack, and HauteLook…but…I’ll say it again:  you won’t be able to shop Early Access without a Nordstrom Card.

3.  Schedule Your Triple Points Day For The First Day of The Sale

One of the smartest things you can do is schedule your Personal Triple Points Day during the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. Just check that baby online during checkout at Nordstrom.com. You’ll earn a $20 Note for every $334 you spend on your Personal Triple Points Day (and these tend to add up pretty quickly during the sale).

4. Follow The Mom Edit For The Best of The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale

Year after year, our approach to the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale is to try and make it easier for you guys to shop. We narrow it down to only the best stuff — the stuff you really will wear and use all year long, the stuff we’ve personally tested for comfort. We start shopping on the very first day of Early Access (Icon level), and cover this sale…pretty much everywhere (we’re all over social media) so the best way to get our recommendations is to follow us on your favorite social media channels, and subscribe to our daily newsletter.  We typically send one newsletter per day (and never share your email), but for the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, we’ll be sending out a special edition you don’t want to miss.

And as I mentioned earlier, this year we’re trying to be even more intentional (and mindful) with our own coverage, and are coming out with special capsule wardrobes, made up of pieces from this sale, for all different styles and lifestyles.

Want to stay up to date with all things NSale? Sign up for The Mom Edit Daily below!

5. Check Out The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale 2020 Preview

New to the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale in 2020 is an online preview that dropped on July 24. You’re now able to browse the preview and save items to your wish list in your Nordstrom account. Check out the preview articles linked above —don’t worry — we got you, even before we start our own dressing room selfies — and bookmark them to return to when it’s your turn to shop. And if you love our coverage and want to support it, please be sure to come back to out articles and click our links before you checkout. THANK YOU.

Of course I’ll be doing my usual #DressingRoomSelfies thing (or #AtHomeSelfies this year), and we’ll update this page with more comprehensive picks once the sale opens…but these things take time (genius can’t be rushed, haha). We are publishing wish lists now – basically a list of each contributor’s top picks from the sale – as well as those capsule wardrobes, so those are all good places to start.  May the force be with us.

6. What About The 2020 Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Catalog?

In a bittersweet twist to the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale we’re used to, there is no Nordstrom Anniversary Sale catalog for 2020. For nostalgia’s sake, you can see our 2019 Anniversary Sale catalog picks here to get the gist. But, as noted above, the preview has replaced this bit of magazine-style goodness.

7. Go For Early Access To Shop The Sale As Soon As Possible

I cannot state this enough: The best pieces — the stuff we really want, really will wear — typically sell out during that first week. Highly anticipated re-stocks have been few and far between. A few readers have gotten lucky waiting for returns to come back into stock…but most have not. Your best bet is to shop the sale as early as possible. Once again, this means shopping (with your Nordstrom Card) during the first Early Access week of the sale.

8.  The Best Way To Shop The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Online

If you’ve ever wandered into a Nordstrom during the Early Access sale…it’s a zoo. Historically, even when pieces are theoretically in stock in-store, chances are they’re stuck in someone else’s dressing room (or this year, possibly being quarantined for a short period of time). Despite the gaggle of helpful staff Nordstrom has on hand during the sale, it’s a grueling shopping experience. That said, 2020 is a different year, and the 2020 Nordstrom Anniversary Sale likely will be a very different shopping experience. The good news is that Nordstrom’s online inventory is completely synched up with their in-store inventory, so if the website says that it’s sold out online….it is, in fact, sold out everywhere. Shopping online also means taking advantage of free shipping, one of the best perks of shopping at Nordstrom. If you don’t love the idea of packages sitting on your doorstep while you’re at work (hey, Philly)— or uh….playing camp counselor all day— you can pick up online orders in-store or drive-thru/curbside! 

Another perk (again, we don’t know how this plays out in 2020): if the items you’re crushing on are in-stock at your local store, Nordstrom will deliver them to you SAME DAY for only $15 ($20 in NYC) — historically. Check to see if same-day delivery is available for your local Nordstrom store here.

9.  Buy Sale Items With Huge Sell-Out Risk First

Seems obvious, right? But how does one know which items are at risk of selling out? Well. I’ve been doing this blogging thing for more than 10 years now (crazy, right??), and after 10 years of covering this sale, I do have some thoughts on this subject. As soon as the preview hit, we started rounding up our favorites (as well as made a few predictions) — you can check those out below — but for now, here’s what I know:

  • Don’t worry about kids’ or men’s. The sell-out risk pales in comparison to Women’s.
  • If you like brands like VINCE, rag & bone and Nike…you really need to shop that first week. These pieces almost always sell out.
  • Statement athletic wear (like the really cute leggings from Alo, for example, and that matching sweatshirt) rarely last past that first week. Snap ’em up!
  • Nordstrom brands (Treasure & Bond, Halogen) tend to be better stocked than non-Nordstrom brands…the exception being Nordstrom Signature Collection. If there’s a cute cashmere sweater in the actual sale, don’t hesitate. In years’ past, they’ve been some of the best cashmere sweaters I’ve owned.

The links to our 2020 Nordstrom Anniversary Sale posts are here and, you can check out our 2019 catalog favorites and our 2018 predictions here. Some of the predictions will overlap.

10. Don’t Rely On Re-Stocks

In years’ past, Nordstrom would reserve a decent amount of merchandise for the public sale. Which meant that even if something sold out during the Early Access week, there was still a chance to score it during the public sale. This is no longer true. Don’t bet on a restock, even for public sale.

However, this also means that if there’s something you can’t live without…buy it in multiple sizes, just in case. It’s much better to send back what you don’t want than to totally miss out. (But do the rest of us a favor, and send it back before the sale ends, OK?) Also, we got a reader tip during Facebook Live yesterday: If you love something, but need to exchange for a different size that’s not in stock during the sale, hold on to it, tags on, until the end of the sale. Once the 2020 Nordstrom Anniversary Sale is over, and items are restocked at full-price, you can make your exchange and keep your discounted price.

11. But Don’t Give Up On Returns

This year – since more people will be shopping online – many sold out pieces may come back into stock as returns get processed.  Since online shoppers tend to buy more than one size, it’s reasonable to think that a larger number of items will be returned.  So if a piece is sold out in your size, I think it’s worth stalking, this year more than past years. It may come back as a return.

12. Avoid Being Overwhelmed (We Can Help)

That’s (hopefully) why you come here. We Do. Alllllll. The. Research. All the #DressingRoomSelfies. All the “Best of” lists. All the “Best of what’s left” lists.

The 2020 Nordstrom Anniversary Sale is on! We have all the tips & hacks: dates, Early Access, the catalog/ preview & a shopping strategy for the best deals.

We do it all…for the entire length of the sale, with contributors literally from coast to coast. We try stuff on, wear it around, make sure it actually works for our everyday lives, and blog the heck out of it. Don’t forget to keep up with us here, at our Nordstrom Anniversary Sale 2020 Guide.

Happy shopping!
xo,
S

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