Flash Sale Sites Offer Great Deals… with a Deadline

Sites can offer discounts of 70 to 80 percent off or more

Ready set shop!

In this economy, the race is on for a deal.  But this kind of bargain hunting is not for the faint of heart.

Flash sale websites, as they’re called in the industry, offer up deep discounts on items you thought you could never afford before.  And they're not just for fashion.  These sites offer deals on entertainment, home décor and travel too.

Gilt.com, Ideeli and Rue La La are few of the more popular ones.

"We work with Zac Posen, Valentino, and Oscar de la Renta to get incredible deals," said Alexandra Wilkis, the founder and Chief Merchandising Officer for Gilt.

The sales can be tremendous, offering discounts of 70 to 80 percent off or more.  For example:  $1,200 Alberta Ferretti shoes recently sold for $200.  And for the men, a Travata Jacket that retails for $450 went for just $98.

"We have great designers to curate the best possible experiences for all of our members," said Wilkis.

Most sales last only 36 hours, making Gilt an addictive destination.  When the merchandise is gone, it’s gone.

Sales on Gilt start at 11 a.m. CT and hot items can go in minutes.  You do have preview time, but when the sale starts, shoppers have to be ready to buy or they'll miss out.

Be warned about quick turnarounds on returns.  Some sites have made extensions for the holidays, so read the fine print.

Even the best hotels and restaurants are finding these sites as viable ways to get rid of excess inventory without advertising. The savings are passed on to you.

Gilt requires membership and has extended an invitation to NBC viewers at www.gilt.com/nbcsmartmoney.

Gilt City is a new feature with deals on local entertainment in Chicago. Jetsetter is Gilt’s travel site.

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