At Bon Marche in Seattle, summer business is anchored by the white sales, which run through June, and the Home Show, which begins in August, said Bob Gordon, DMM.
By combining back-to-school with an August white sale, "it's ended up be one of our better months," Altmeyer continued.
On the concurrent white sale, Altmeyer said: "August is a good towel month--I guess because it's so hot and people take more showers.
A key difficulty with white sales in the '90s is distinguishing them from the myriad promotional events held throughout the year.
Says Toolan, "In many cases, the only thing that makes white sales different are the two words on the outside of the book and the number of pages devoted to home textiles.
Indeed, unlike everyday promotional events, white sales shift the spotlight to the home textiles department, giving it an opportunity to showcase a broader range of merchandise and make a greater impression on the consumer.
Federated's department stores use fashion as a means of distinguishing white sales from everyday promotion.
A few years ago, Federated management considered offering coupons for additional percentages off and other promotional gimcrackery in an effort to make white sales more productive.
Another new take on white sales is to link them with promotions in other areas of the home, such as furniture and housewares, to create a total-home event.
Federated runs white sales in the second and fourth quarters -- usually in May and November, although the Rich's and Burdines divisions run additional white sale events in the first and third quarters.
White sales are the 'big events' and we try to keep them exciting with special purchases rather than heavy markdowns to get customers in the door.
Today, however, promotional books go out virtually every week, leaving the once powerful (because infrequent) white sale events searching for an identity amid the many clearances, home sales and one-day events.