Like most other small businesses, retail clothing stores need repeat business to stay in business. Spending advertising dollars to get customers in the door each time can bust your budget. Rotating different discount promotions that consider apparel purchasing habits will help keep you in customers’ minds and maintain a steady flow of regulars.

Percentage Discounts

A common discount clothing retailers offer is the percentage discount, where you take a certain amount off the regular sale price. Consider offering a tiered percentage discount on ensemble purchases. For example, 30 percent off jackets, 40 percent off slacks purchased with a jacket, 50 percent off blouses purchased with slacks and a jacket, and 60 percent off belts purchased with the other trio. However, this promotional strategy can be a double-edged sword for retailers of upscale apparel because of the message it sends about quality. If you offer a significant discount on individual pieces, such as 70 percent off skirts, customers might feel your items are so undesirable you practically have to give them away.


Apparel shoppers often purchase complementary pieces, and everyone loves freebies, so offer a free item with the purchase of another. Pair freebies that work together, such as slacks and a free blouse, a shirt and free tie, or a jacket and a free skirt. If you want to make your promotion easier to manage, offer a free product with the purchase of a similar product, rather than letting shoppers pick different items. For example, let shoppers pick different colors of the same sweaters or slacks. Don’t give away obviously low-quality merchandise as the freebie or customers might feel duped by your promotion.


Work with your apparel suppliers to time any co-op programs they offer with seasonal coupon promotions. This lets you advertise a spring clearance sale, for example, with low-cost advertising that reduces your overhead on these already low-margin items, paid for in part by your suppliers. The manufacturer might prefer that you advertise its upcoming season's line. Track which apparel companies generate the most coupon traffic by putting the manufacturer's logo on the coupon, or by using a unique coupon code for each company. Or, instead of a straight discount on apparel items, offer a discount coupon to any customer who donates a useable clothing item for charity, getting the charity to cross-promote you to its donor base. Limit the number of coupons you'll give to a single customer and/or the dates of the promotion.

Buyer’s Club

Offer a “perpetual discount” to customers who join a buyer’s club by giving members a straight discount on any items they purchase year-round. Exclude items you don’t want to discount in advance, such as not including belts or ties, if you those are big sellers or have low margins. Optionally, offer different, pre-specified discounts on different types of apparel, such as slacks, skirts, blouses, shirts, jackets and accessories. Review the buying habits of your regular customers, who are the most likely to join a buyer’s club, to help determine what percentage discounts you can offer and still make a profit when you average your sales at the end of the year.

Special Occasion Discount

Clothing is a personal purchase, and other than mothers who shop for family members or girlfriends who shop for boyfriends, you might not get much business from customers who buy for others. To stimulate "friend buying," create a "Special Occasion" club. Let customers leave a card in your files with their birthdays, selected apparel items they'd like as gifts, and holidays on which they'd like to receive gifts -- similar to a wedding registry. Offer a discount to customers who sign up a spouse, significant other or parent who will receive advance notification of birthday, winter holiday or Valentine's buying opportunities. Club members provide you with their contacts' email addresses or phone numbers and you send birthday and holiday alerts to these people. Friends of birthday club members will appreciate being reminded about the birthday and notified about the opportunity to buy a gift their friend wants at a discount.

Fashion Shows

Hold in-store and off-site fashion shows, giving attendees a discount on any purchases they make of clothing shown at the show. Don't deliver the items at an off-site fashion show if you think customers will come into your store to get the bargain. This will stimulate more in-store impulse purchases and give you the opportunity to up-sell complementary pieces or accessories.