In an attempt to drum up sales during Hurricane Sandy, American Apparel sent out an email to customers Monday night offering a 20% discount off its entire site for 36 hours the superstorm barreled across the Northeast, leaving many without power and as many as 50 people dead.
In order to take advantage of promotion — which was only available to the nine states hardest hit by the storm — online customers had to input the discount code “SANDYSALE” at checkout. “In case you’re bored during the storm,” the ad jauntily noted.
Predictably, nobody was thrilled. New York resident David Honig expressed his less than favorable views:
Julie Wax, who runs the I Heart Heels blog, echoed the sentiment:
Many others jumped onto the bandwagon criticizing the L.A.-based retailer, including fashion blogs Refinery 29 and Racked. A company representative explained the rationale behind the move to Fashionista.com:
Of course we’d never mean to offend anyone and when we put the email out yesterday it came from a good place….Retail stores are the lifeline of a brand like ours so when they are closed, we need to come up with ways to make up for that lost revenue. People forget how expensive it is to run a Made in USA brand like American Apparel and if we made a mistake here it came from the good place of trying to keep the machine going–for the sake of our employees and stakeholders.
American Apparel was not the only retailer to offer discounts; according to Racked NY, retailers such as Urban Outfitters, Catbird and Lauren Moffat offered deals such as frees shipping to stuck customers. Though Saks Fifth Avenue did not run a promotion, the luxury department store did not hesitate to encourage shopping through its online outlet on Twitter.
Unfortunately, shopping for luxury goods is probably the last thing on the minds of people affected by the storm. And for 6.2 million Americans still in the dark following the storm, it’s difficult to take advantage of online deals without power.