Looking for the best deals on that hot “it” purse or that tony musk fragrance? Then you might want to skip Amazon.
It turns out department and specialty stores are cheaper than the online giant on a range of full-priced items, according to a study conducted by the International Council of Shopping Centers.
A comparison between the same 547 (nonsale) apparel, accessory and beauty products at 124 department and specialty stores across the country, such as Bloomingdale’s, Macy's and Sephora, revealed that on an item-to-item basis, department and specialty stores were up to 30% cheaper than the online juggernaut.
Burberry Bag: $3,127 On Amazon, Versus $1,595 At Burberry Store
When it comes to women’s clothing and accessories, Consumers can save 9% and 5%, respectively, by shopping department and specialty stores, rather than Amazon, according to the study.
As one example, digital think tank L2 pointed to the huge price differential of Burberry’s Medium Banner bag, which listed for $3,127 on Amazon on Jan. 4, versus $1,595 at a Burberry store in Aspen, Colorado, as well as on the brand’s web site.
In the beauty category, the ICSC survey revealed an average price savings of 6% for the same items purchased in a store, versus on Amazon.
A 3.4 ounce bottle of Chanel’s Chance illustrated an even bigger savings: As of Jan. 4, the perfume sold for 16% less at a Macy’s store in Boston than it did on Amazon.
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The bottle is selling for $124, which matched the price on Macys.com, versus $147.84 on Amazon for the same item.
Amazon did not respond for comment.
Too Small A Sample To Make A Price Conclusion?
But pricing expert Susan Lee, a partner with retail consultancy Simon-Kucher & Partners, cautioned that the 547 items studied across 17 product categories are too small a sample from which to conclude that department and specialty stores are generally less expensive than Amazon on full-priced merchandise.
“This type of price comparison is incredibly difficult to be representative because there are hundreds of thousands of items across these categories,” she said.
“Given the variation of prices even within Amazon and the vast number of SKUs, one can make the result say anything depending on the sample selection.”
Shoppers Don’t Seem To Care That Amazon Might Not Be The Cheapest
Even if it turns out that Amazon is generally more expensive than department and specialty stores on full-priced goods, shoppers might not care much. Many don’t expect the site to be their bargain basement be-all anyway.
Indeed, 38% of respondents surveyed in the study cited product selection as the main reason to shop on Amazon, followed by prices (29%) and speed of delivery (13%).
“I strongly believe that people buy from Amazon mostly because of non-price reasons — the ease of shopping via the website, the selection, the reliability of shipping, the speed of shipping, and the peace of mind that returning is very easy,” Lee said.
And the idea that Amazon aims to offer the lowest price on the retail market is a widespread misconception. In fact, quite the contrary, said Jack Blackledge, managing director for Cowen and Company, at a December conference entitled, "Amazon: Beat 'em and Join 'em!" by the Retail Marketing Society.
“Amazon is a price follower and will follow [retail] pricing declines, not initiate them,” he said. Instead, they aim to be “trusted for their everyday low pricing.”