The Siren Call of the Flash Sale Email

I receive a dozen emails every day from various online boutiques and flash sale sites. My morning wake-up routine mostly involves deleting these emails from my phone while I lie in bed. I’ll only open maybe a quarter of them, and my click through rate is even more dismal. It’s not that I’m annoyed or disinterested by these emails. Au contraire, I want to open them ALL very badly—I just don’t let myself.

These emails are coming to me by choice. I have signed up to receive sale updates, coupon codes, and discounts from my favorite shops and sites so that, when I do (and can) shop, I’ll save. But most of the time, I can’t give in to the luxury of temptation, so I just don’t look. For someone with a shopping compulsion, ignorance is bliss.

Holiday sales, however, have a tendency to make even the most savvy financier say, “Budget, what?”

Black Friday and Cyber Monday flooded my inbox with emails singing siren songs of free shipping and “50% off the entire site.” I was lured into every single one; I didn’t stand a chance. I read all the subject lines the same: “MAJOR SALE TIME, HEATHER! GRAB YOUR WALLET!”

The catch of course is OTHER PEOPLE. The holidays are about giving to the ones you love! But I really love myself. Lots of lady blogs tell me that this self-love is my most valuable asset! Shouldn’t I take care of myself by buying lots and lots of clothes? (Nice try, Heather.)

Receiving emails, tweets, and Facebook updates about sales from all my favorite brands over a month before the actual holidays lends itself to some self-gratification. The season of giving is still far enough away to feel like there is still ample time to shop, and I’m not necessarily being shown great deals for brands and sites that my loved ones would enjoy, just the products I want.

Hallmark commercialism, trees, candy canes, twinkle lights—the pressure and cost of buying presents for everyone in my life is overwhelming. The money I’ll be shelling out on others makes spending $50 on treating myself manageable. It’s easier to rationalize that small amount of money on myself when I know I’ll be spending a large chunk on others. It’s the two for you, one for me mentality.

This year, I’m not going lie; I got sucked into a deep hole over at Modcloth’s 50% off Black Friday sale. My shopping cart held about ten items before I snapped back to reality. I couldn’t be spending $100 on pretty dresses and sweaters that look like everything else in my closet! I have baby cousins that need toys this year! A boyfriend who desperately needs new sneakers!

In the end, I bought a couple things for myself. I also did some early holiday shopping, but those emails man…they almost got me. I have resolved to not open anymore until 2013, no matter how enticing they are.


Heather Sundell lives in Los Angeles.


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