Worst: Apple Store
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Apple, Chanel, and Other Brands That Almost Never Go on Sale

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Save Your Pennies

In today's competitive retail landscape, it's hard to go a day without emails about blowout sales cluttering our inboxes. But believe it or not, there are some brands and stores that rarely or never discount their offerings — and they're doing just fine. We've rounded up some of the most notable places where you might have trouble snagging something on sale, as well as some tips for dogged bargain hunters who are still determined to pay less.

Related: The Secret Histories of 25 Popular Brands

Worst: Apple Store
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Apple

One of the most notoriously stingy companies when it comes to discounting is one of the most ubiquitous names in tech: Apple. The brand has the cache — and the dominance — to mostly avoid discounting products in its own stores. As ZDNet notes, "Apple plays by its own rules. It makes the products that you want. You'll wait. You'll pay the too-high price." So don't expect to see red or yellow sale signs maring the austere white interior of an Apple Store any time soon.

Related: Famous Brands That Refused to Die

iphone 11
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How to Save on Apple

  • Buy elsewhere. Authorized resellers can and do discount the very same Apple products that you'll pay full price for if you buy from Apple. For instance, you could have snagged the AirPods Pro for $169 from Amazon and Walmart this holiday season, when they were still $249 from Apple. 

  • Consider refurbished. The risk of getting a lemon is very low when you go through Apple itself. Whether you're buying a refurbished Mac, iPhone, or Apple Watch, everything is backed by a standard one-year warranty and eligible for additional coverage through AppleCare, same as brand-new products.

  • Be special. "Special," as far as Apple is concerned, means you're a veteran or active-duty military, or a college student or educator. Those groups get a discount (albeit a modest one) year-round. 

Chanel
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Chanel

Audrey Hepburn and Jackie Kennedy probably weren't pawing through the sales racks. This iconic designer label is savvy enough to know that its customers don't need discounts, and that the brand might lose its luster by giving them. Chanel doesn't even sell many of its products online: If you're after clothing, jewelry, or watches, plan to visit a boutique in person.

Related: On Jackie O's Birthday, Remembering Her Iconic Style

chanel bag
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How to Save on Chanel

  • Buy second hand online. And no, we're not talking about the guy who sells "Chanel" bags from a blanket near Times Square. To get the real thing, stick with sites like TheRealReal and Vestiaire Collective that authenticate every item before they're cleared for sale. 

  • Be careful with eBay. The site's authenticity guarantee is only available for watches and sneakers, not the handbags and apparel that are often the most-coveted Chanel items.

  • Check estate sales, high-end consignment stores, and auctions. You never know what you'll find, especially in high-income areas. 

Peloton
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Peloton

If it seems like everyone you know suddenly owns a Peloton, there's a little kernel of truth there. The pandemic has done wonders for the company's business, but even before then, Peloton wasn't exactly known for giving many (any) discounts on its swanky bike or treadmill because it was courting an upper-income customer (remember all those sweaty, beautiful people pedaling like mad in their multi-million-dollar lofts?)

Related: Which At-Home Exercise System Burns Calories Fastest?

woman on Peloton bike at home
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How to Save on Peloton

  • Wait for Black Friday. In years past, Peloton has thrown in a free accessory package with the purchase of a bike. That may not sound like much, but it's a $250 value and includes shoes, a mat, weights, and other not-too-shabby extras.

  • Be special. That is, take advantage of the free essentials package (a $150 value) given to military, health workers, and first responders. 

  • Use a friend's referral code. You'll get $100 off accessories, and they'll get $100 off apparel. 

  • Buy second hand online. Yes, not everyone falls head over heels for their Peloton. If you go this route, note that the original purchaser's warranty does not transfer. The best place to look? There is an unofficial Peloton Buy Sell Trade group on Facebook, but your local Facebook Marketplace and sites such as Craigslist may also be worth a browse.

View of Tiffany & Co. Building on Wall Street in the Financial District in Manhattan with doorman
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Tiffany & Co.

Look, we don't want to dash your dreams of fishing something sparkly out of a little blue box. But as the jeweler with one of the most storied and swanky reputations out there, it simply doesn't need to discount its products, even during the holiday season. "Tiffany does not conduct price promotional sales on Black Friday or any other day," an executive once told MarketWatch

Related: Most Ridiculous Items Sold at Luxury Retailers

Tiffany+ Co. pearl bracelet, gift bag and gift box shot on a veil background.
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How to Save on Tiffany

  • Work there, or know someone who does. In all seriousness, Tiffany's employees do get a "generous" discount on merchandise, though the company is tight-lipped on what exactly it is. 

  • Buy second hand online. This is obviously a more feasible way to find a discount, but it's also risky. Luxury brands like Tiffany are commonly counterfeited. If you're comfortable going this route, places to look include I Do Now I Don't and TheRealReal. Again, eBay is worth a look, but the burden of ensuring pieces are authentic largely falls on the buyer.
  • Check estate sales, high-end consignment stores, and auctions. Auctions may be your best bet — heirloom Tiffany jewelry, particularly pricier pieces, are unlikely to languish in a shop.

Lululemon
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Lululemon

It's the brand of fancy athleisure duds that everybody swears by, and that fiercely loyal cadre of fans means the brand has little incentive to put its products on sale. And why, exactly, are its leggings, T-shirts, and jackets so expensive? According to The List, it's not just because Lululemon knows its devotees will pay up, but because the company doesn't skimp on research and development when making new products. 

Related: Canadian Stores Americans Love

August 20, 2019 Palo Alto / CA / USA - Lululemon store entrance
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How to Save on Lululemon

  • Check if they made 'too much.' Though Lululemon is loath to use the "s" word, you can get a discount on select products by shopping the "We Made Too Much" section. Just expect popular sizes and styles to go quickly, and don't expect the discounts to be crazy (think $20 off a pair of $100 leggings, for instance).

  • Shop the outlets. Unfortunately, there are only about 20 sprinkled across the nation, and selection will be hit and miss, but it's worth browsing here if one is in your neighborhood.

  • Be special. Military, military spouses, health-care workers, and first responders can snag a 25% discount in store only. Trainers, coaches, and certain athletes can join the Sweat Collective program for a 25% discount in store and online

  • Buy second hand online. Your best bets for Lulu: Poshmark, eBay, and Mercari.
Trader joe's
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Trader Joe's

TJ's may seem like the odd duck out on this list, but it's true: You'll simply never find your Two-Buck Chuck or Everything But the Bagel at a discount. Trader Joe's admits as much on its own site: " ‘Sale' is a four-letter word to us. We have low prices, every day. NO coupons. NO membership cards. NO discounts. NO glitzy promotions or couponing wars at our stores." In a nutshell, Trader Joe's feels it's already cheap enough, so don't get greedy.

Related: The Best Things to Buy at Trader Joe's

Trader Joe's
Trader Joe's by Infrogmation of New Orleans (CC BY-SA)

How to Save at Trader Joe's

  • Clip coupons anyway. Yes, they won't be good on Trader Joe's own store-brand products, which is most of what you'll find in the store. But TJ's will honor manufacturer's coupons on the non-store brands it carries.

  • Try it before you buy it. Trader Joe's is constantly tempting customers with new products and special seasonal finds. If you find something intriguing, ask an associate if you can nab a sample first, and avoid wasting your hard-earned cash.

  • Bring your own bag. It's not just good for the environment: A lot of Trader Joe's stores will enter you into a daily raffle for a $25 gift card as a reward, though pandemic strictions have thrown off that plan in some states.
Front street of Lahaina town with shops and tourists shopping and sightseeing. Lush store
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Lush

Think of Lush as a crunchier, pricier, trendier version of Bath & Body Works. This purveyor of ethically made lotions, soaps, and all things fantastic-smelling is particularly known for its whimsical bath bombs. Unfortunately, it's also known for its high prices (said bath bombs cost $10 a pop) and its utter lack of sales. Ahhhh … relaxing.

Related: Inexpensive Products to Relieve Stress at Home

Handmade cosmetics on the counter of the store. The concept of eco body care products.
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How to Save at Lush

  • Wait for Boxing Day. This after-Christmas sale is the only time of year you can rely on getting a discount at Lush, according to Blacker Friday. That said, the discounts are sweet enough that customers often crash the Lush website when the sale finally rolls around.  

  • Check out the British site. Lush is based in the U.K. and Redditors report that products are often cheaper on the British site. Of course, this will depend on the exchange rate and shipping, but it's worth a look: A recent check revealed bath bombs and handmade soaps were often about $2 or $3 less, savings that could definitely add up on a big order, even with steeper shipping costs.

  • Get a free sample. Lush is known for giving out relatively generous samples of many of its products, so see what's available before spending big on something you might not like.
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Ikea

To be fair, Ikea does hold occasional sales, but they're very hit and miss, and only ever on a tiny fraction of the products this furniture giant carries in its enormous stores. It's unlikely that you'll ever find half-off blowouts for a couple simple reasons: First, everything has already been meticulously designed and engineered to cost as little as possible, and second, the company lacks a true competitor

Related: Secrets and Hacks for Shopping at Ikea

Expensive Items at Ikea
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How to Save at Ikea

  • Join the family. You won't be able to snag any of the few price breaks Ikea does offer unless you join Ikea Family, the store's loyalty program. It's free, and besides occasional discounts, perks include a free coffee or tea in the restaurant, plus extra time for the kids at Ikea's kid-watch, Smaland. 

  • Shop the as-is section. This is basically Ikea's scratch-and-dent section, where imperfect items are sold for less. It's always worth a look, because sometimes defects are quite minor. You'll also find perfectly good floor samples and discontinued items here.

  • Buy second hand online. Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist are often full of used Ikea. Just be sure to inspect the condition before you buy — some Ikea products are more solid than others — and make sure the price is fair (it's not uncommon for out-of-touch sellers to ask for as much or more than what the item would cost new). 

Related: 25 Ikea Products to Buy — and 25 to Skip

Restoration Hardware New Store Concept at International Plaza Tampa
Restoration Hardware New Store Concept at International Plaza Tampa by Tom Jackson (CC BY-NC-ND)

Restoration Hardware

You won't find anything flat-packed here, and if you're used to Ikea prices, prepare for a little (OK, a lot) of sticker shock. We're talking $1,000 side tables, $500 duvet covers, and $1,200 leather bean bags, because, well … we don't know why. And if you've been to a swanky RH store lately, you know that bright red sales tags and acrylic paint on the windows aren't exactly part of the aesthetic. 

Related: Exceptional Restaurants and Cafes In Your Favorite Stores

Lighting  Restoration Hardware, Hillsdale Shopping Center, San Mateo.
Lighting Restoration Hardware, Hillsdale Shopping Center, San Mateo. by Christina B Castro (CC BY-NC)

How to Save on Restoration Hardware

  • Get a membership. One of the reasons you don't find many sales at RH is that the store has shifted to a membership model. Coughing up $100 gets you 25% off all full-priced items for a year, among other benefits. Given the prices, it's not hard to make this back, even with just one purchase.

  • Ask about the floor models. Stores maintain lists of customers interested in certain pieces, and sell them at a deep discount when they need to get rid of them.

  • Scour the outlets. RH has outlets sprinkled across the country; some are in outlet malls, while others are stand-alone locations. As with all outlets, selection will be hit and miss, and you'll need to check for defects. But the savings can be substantial.  

  • Buy second hand online. Stick to local sites (shipping furniture will eat up your savings) including Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, and OfferUp.
People walking on the sidewalk in front of the Louis Vuitton store at Fifth avenue."
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Louis Vuitton Handbag
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How to Save on Louis Vuitton

  • Buy second hand online. We've said it before, and we'll say it again: Stick to sites that do the authenticating for you (example: The RealReal). Like Chanel, Louis Vuitton is one of the most counterfeited brands out there. 

  • Rent instead of buy. If it's a handbag you have your eye on, consider trying out a rental site like Bag Borrow or Steal

  • Check estate sales, high-end consignment stores, and auctions. Again, you'll probably have the most luck in high-income areas.