Nordstrom Anniversary Sale 2021 Pro Tips: An Expert’s Shopping Guide

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Gang, we’ve been looking forward to The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale for months. It’s easily the best sale around, especially for those long-term investment pieces. Unlike other sales, which discount in-season pieces that didn’t sell, Nordstrom’s Anniversary Sale sources pre-fall merchandise a month or two early, specifically for this sale event. So when the sale’s over, you’ll see those pieces again…but at full price.

This sale is always worth the hype, but this year feels extra exciting because I know…we’ll get to wear these clothes out. Yay, vaccines!

The 2021 Nordstrom Anniversary Sale opens with a non-shoppable online preview that starts on July 6th. This is when we’ll get to see the exact pieces included in the sale. Nordstrom cardholders (depending on tier) can start shopping Early Access on July 12th (it’s complicated, more below), and the general public can shop on July 28th.

Bottom line? Prices go back up August 8th.

The online preview (that starts on July 6th) was one good change that came out of the pandemic last year. The online preview is a comprehensive sneak peek into the sale — 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.

As soon as the 2021 preview goes live — July 6 — the TME editors (myself included) will be rounding up the pieces (fashion and beauty) we’ll actually be shopping and ordering, and will be sharing our wish lists, cute outfit ideas (like this one) and fall capsule wardrobes all week long, so you can bookmark what you like until you have access to the shop the 2021 Nordstrom Anniversary Sale.

Um…What Is The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale?

The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale is a bit unique. As we mentioned, this sale offers deep discounts on pre-season items, rather than discounting in-season or post-season merchandise that didn’t previously sell. Which means that the fresh stuff – the bootsbagsjeans and sweaters we’re already eyeing up for fall – can be had at a really discounted price for a few weeks in July. Once the sale is over, the merchandise goes back up to its retail price. It’s a genius concept, really. One that I wish more retailers would copy.

On a personal note….I’ve been shopping this sale for more than a decade — and covering it for just as long. 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 end up with pieces I really and truly do wear for years to come. The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale is worth the time invested.

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Tips: Dates, Early Access Details + Shopping Strategy

The 2021 Nordstrom Anniversary Sale opens July 28th, but Early Access shopping begins July 12th. Our coverage begins July 6th when the preview opens.

For those of us who can shop in-store, keep in mind that it may still be a slightly different shopping experience from 2019 and before. There are still measures in place to keep both shoppers and employees safe. This includes sanitizer stations, store ambassadors wearing face masks, well-spaced clothing racks, and plexiglass partitions. Best to shop mindfully if you’re going in-store. Face masks will still be required where mandated, and store hours may be in flux. Nordstrom has also noted that they will be temporarily limiting the number of customers inside their stores.

Like last year, Nordstrom is offering contactless and curbside pickup — order online, pick it up easily. A perk I hope never goes away.

1. When Is The 2021 Nordstrom Anniversary Sale?

The 2021 Nordstrom Anniversary Sale opens July 28th, but Early Access shopping begins July 12th. Our coverage begins July 6th when the preview opens.

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale 2021 Dates

The public sale begins July 28th, while Nordy Club members/Nordstrom credit card holders get to shop first during Early Access, beginning July 12th and continuing per the schedule below. However, a new feature as of the 2020 sale is the preview, which goes online July 6th (it replaces the usual Nordstrom Anniversary Sale catalog). The sale ends August 8th, 2021. Below is a rough timeline for when Nordy Club members and the public get to shop the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale.

July 6: Preview (Digital. Replaces The Catalog. Open For All)
July 12: Nordy Club Icons Shop Early Access 
July 14: Nordy Club Ambassadors Shop Early Access
July 16: Nordy Club Influencers Shop Early Access
July 28: Public Sale Begins
August 8: Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Ends
August 9: Prices Go Up

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 the critical first two weeks of the sale known as 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.) 

The 2021 Nordstrom Anniversary Sale opens July 28th, but Early Access shopping begins July 12th. Our coverage begins July 6th when the preview opens.

If you haven’t already, sign up for a Nordstrom Card, here. If you’re a current card-holding member, check your Nordstrom Card status, 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 Bonus Points Day For The First Day of The Sale

One of the smartest things you can do is schedule your Personal Bonus Points Day during the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. Just check that baby online during checkout at Nordstrom.com. Ambassadors and Icons can earn three points per dollar spent, and folks with Influencer status can earn two points per dollar spent.

4. Follow The Mom Edit For The Best Nordstrom Anniversary Sale 2021 Coverage

Year after year, our approach to the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale is to try and make it easier for you 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 (we’ve earned our Icon level – there’s no special privileges granted by Nordstrom), and cover this sale in depth. The best (and fastest) way to get our recommendations is subscribe to our newsletter. If interested, we have a special newsletter group dedicated to Nordstrom Anniversary Sale coverage if you want to be the first to hear. Just click that box when signing up.

The 2021 Nordstrom Anniversary Sale opens July 28th, but Early Access shopping begins July 12th. Our coverage begins July 6th when the preview opens.

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 and outfit formulas for different styles and lifestyles, all based on the kinds of practical (yet cool) pieces we personally wear the most.

If you love our coverage and want to support it, please be sure to come back to our articles and click our links before you check out. We really appreciate it. (And a huge thank you to our Facebook Insiders for even asking this question. xo!)

5. Check Out The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale 2021 Preview

The 2021 Nordstrom Anniversary Sale has an online preview that will drop on July 6th. Unlike the Before Times when we received a catalog, we’re now able to browse the preview and save items we like into our Nordstrom account.

During the preview period, look out for articles on TME editor’s wish lists, as well as a few capsule wardrobes to help with the plotting and planning required for smarter shopping. Frankly, the ability to plot and plan (and not buy in a frenzy) is one of the very best parts of the preview period.

I love going into Early Access with a well-thought-out game plan.

6. What About The 2021 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 2021; it went away in 2020. For nostalgia’s sake, find 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. We’ll get our favs from the preview published as soon as humanly possible after it drops — seriously. Watch for it.

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. Despite the gaggle of helpful staff Nordstrom has on hand during the sale, it’s a grueling shopping experience. That said, 2021 is a different year, and the 2021 Nordstrom Anniversary Sale likely will be a different shopping experience.

The good news is that Nordstrom’s online inventory is completely synced 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 curbside!

The 2021 Nordstrom Anniversary Sale opens July 28th, but Early Access shopping begins July 12th. Our coverage begins July 6th when the preview opens.

Another perk (again, we don’t know how this plays out in 2021): 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 shopping thing for more than 10 years now (crazy, right??), and after a decade of covering this sale, I do have some thoughts on this subject. As soon as the preview hits, we will start rounding up our favorites (as well as making a few predictions)–which you will eventually be able to check 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.

– Boutique brands like La Ligne, Jenni Kayne, rag & bone and Beyond Yoga typically sell out that first week.

– Statement athletic wear (like the cute patterned leggings from Zella, for example, and that matching top) 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. They’re some of the best cashmere sweaters I’ve owned.

– Nordstrom just released a list of brands in the sale this year, and we’re excited to see many of our favorites are back: Zella, Nike, UGG, Vince, Barefoot Dreams, True & Co, AllSaints, Veronica Beard, Charlotte Tilbury and La Ligne. AND we’re getting over 100+ new brands in this year’s sale! Anyone else excited to see Jenni Kayne, Dyson and Club Monaco on that list?

You can check out our 2020 Preview Picks and our 2019 catalog favorites 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?)

The 2021 Nordstrom Anniversary Sale opens July 28th, but Early Access shopping begins July 12th. Our coverage begins July 6th when the preview opens.

(You guys asked about the above dress – it’s Good American’s Dreamy Cut Out Dress)

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, it’s worth stalking, this year more than past years. It may come back as a return.

Also, we got a reader tip during Facebook Live last year: 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 2021 Nordstrom Anniversary Sale is over, and items are restocked at full-price, you can make your exchange and keep your discounted price.

12. Avoid Being Overwhelmed (We Can Help)

That’s (hopefully) why you come here. We do allll the research. The try-ons. The honest reviews. We find the hidden gems, show you seven ways to wear it and determine if something is, actually, worth the cost.

We do it all…for the entire length of the sale, with contributors literally from coast to coast. We find the good stuff, 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 2021 Guide.

xo,

Shana

The 2021 Nordstrom Anniversary Sale opens July 28th, but Early Access shopping begins July 12th. Our coverage begins July 6th when the preview opens.