A New Way to Shop July 4 Sales

SaleSorter, a new app, helps shoppers find the discounts closest to them.

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If you plan to be out and about on July Fourth taking advantage of sales, then you might want to consider incorporating a new tool into your routine: SaleSorter, an app that was created by a San Francisco-based brother and sister team. The app, which is free in the iTunes store, allows customers to locate sales that are geographically close to them as well as ones at their favorite stores.

“We had been talking about all the noise on Twitter and Facebook and how retailers communicate sales,” says app co-founder Thayer Meicler, adding that there wasn’t an easy way for shoppers to find out about sales as they were happening. Sure, some people spend time sorting through Sunday newspaper circulars or searching online before they shop, but no single resource sifted through all of that information on shoppers’ behalves.

That’s why Meicler and her brother, Peter Christodoulo, created their app. While many shopping-related apps focus on coupons and online commerce, SaleSorter takes the opposite approach, zeroing in exclusively on brick-and-mortar store purchases. Meicler points to statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau that show the vast majority (95 percent) of retail transactions happen off-line, and a survey from the consultancy WSL/Strategic Retail that shows almost half of Americans exclusively shop during sales.

[Read: Confessions of a Former Shopoholic.]

“It seemed like there was a need in the market to help people find what they were looking for,” she says. Meicler and her brother are well-positioned to do that with their financial backgrounds; Meicler worked for American Express and Christodoulo for investing firms.

When a consumer downloads the app and opens it from a mobile device, it immediately identifies shops nearby that are currently offering sales. Users can also customize the display by flagging their favorite stores. “You’ll see a combination of the stores you like, what’s nearby and the strongest sales,” Meicler says. She explains that their sales database is constantly updated in real time, as new sales are announced, and they currently feature 150 national retailers – a number they are constantly looking to expand.

 [Read: Why Shopping Can Be Good for Your Health.]

“If you’re at a large mall, you can fire up the app, and see where the sales are … it makes your shopping trip more efficient,” she says. The app has already been downloaded thousands of times and has overall positive ratings in the iTunes store.

What’s not entirely clear is how Meicler and Christodoulo plan to make money from their app; Meicler declined to discuss their business model. (Possible models include getting paid by retailers who want to spread the word about their sales or accepting advertising from retailers.) Meicler says she is committed to keeping the app free for consumers.

[See: 50 Smart Money Moves.]

And about those July Fourth sales: SaleSorter reports that Gap is featuring 40 percent off select styles through the weekend, Pottery Barn is offering 60 percent off hundreds of items (including outdoor furniture) through the weekend, Sears is taking 20 percent off grills and up to 60 percent off mattresses (along with an array of other discounts) and Bath & Body Works is featuring its semi-annual sale, which takes up to 75 percent off items.

Shoppers taking a break from fireworks and grilling can check out the app on their phone for more sales near them. Meicler suggests not waiting too long to make purchases, though. She says, “Even though some sales will be around through the weekend, don’t delay because [items] will likely be picked over by then.”