Nordstrom Anniversary Sale – Cause for Celebration?

The Nordstrom’s Anniversary Sale is a nearly month-long opportunity for one of the top apparel retailers in the US to drive serious consumer interest. Yet, there are a variety of components that make the sale especially interesting. 

From extended dates that risk limiting the urgency leveraged by other major sales, like Amazon’s Prime Day, to having multiple periods with the first week focused only on Nordstrom card members.

With the 2019 iteration in the books, we took a look back to see what the data tells about the Anniversary Sale’s performance in 2019.

Summer Peak

The Anniversary Sale has become an important part of the Nordstroms calendar with the event producing a peak that is only surpassed by the holiday season. The four weeks that overlapped with the event in 2018, produced weekly visit numbers that were 30.5%, 30.7%, 20.3% and 21.5% above the baseline for the period between the start of 2018 and July 11th of 2019.

2019’s effort didn’t disappoint, with the four weeks producing visit rates that were 20.0%, 23.4%, 16.5% and 18.9% above the same baseline. While this does demonstrate a dip from 2018, the drop is also related to store closings, and a more integrated online effort.

Additionally, the Nordstrom Rack brand also saw the last two weeks of the sale drive better than normal visits, taking ‘away’ some of the shoppers.

Changing Shopping Patterns

Yet, beyond showing the ability to drive visits during an otherwise quieter period, there are unique attributes to the shopping that takes place during the sale event. Comparing the normal breakdown of visits of the period from January 2018 through July 11th, 2019 (blue), there is a different shopping pattern during the sales event (red). 

Throughout the period from January 2018 through July 2019, visits disproportionately come on weekends. 23.6% of visits during the baseline period come on a Saturday and 15.7% on a Sunday. These numbers drop during the sale period giving significant bumps to weekday traffic. Monday visits are 12.5% higher than normal, while Tuesday and Wednesday visits are visits 28.2% and 19.1% higher, respectively. This presents a unique opportunity not only to Nordstroms but to their neighbors who have the chance to tap into greater than normal weekday traffic patterns.

Another difference comes in the length of the shop itself. Visitors during the sales period look to be more mission-oriented leading to a greater percentage who stop in for a short visit than normal. While an extended stay is normally a goal for a retailer, it is interesting to see that the ability to create demand in the build-up to an event can potentially produce a more efficient shopper.


Nordstrom’s Anniversary Sale is a huge event in the retailer’s calendar driving major boosts in traffic to physical locations. Yet, the impact of their success goes beyond purchases to one specific retailer. Significant jumps in mid-week traffic and in-store shopping behavior create opportunities for other brands to latch onto. The ability to effectively understand and leverage these trends can help retailers improve conversion throughout the year.

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