Pre-New Years Lucky Pack/Fukubukuro Report
Lucky packs are a must for the thrifty/stingy/budget lolita shopper. Since this post is a little different than my other posts and there are already so many good sources of descriptions for what LPs are, I'll keep the description to the bare basics. If you are already familiar with what these are, please feel free to skip right to the bottom to see the report itself.
Fukubukuro (福袋) are often known as "lucky packs" in English. These are essentially discounted grab bags. In Japan, the new years traditions include clearing out old clutter for a fresh start. Similar to spring cleaning in the west, this tradition is not only present in the home, but vastly shared in businesses as well. Many retail shops will bundle up old merchandise and overstock in mystery grab bags and sell them at a significant discount. Stores ranging from convenience stores to drug stores to high end fashion stores will partake in this practice, and over the years, these lucky packs have become so popular that many variations have come into existence including lucky packs that contain items which are produced solely for these packs (usually done by stores/brands that are confident that their packs will sell out) and lucky pack vouchers that can be exchanged for your choice of products (often used for food).
In the lolita world, lucky packs usually come in one of two forms, dead-stock lucky packs and specially made lucky packs. Dead-stock lucky packs will contain items from the brand that were previous sold as regular stock whereas specially made lucky packs contain items which were produced for the sole purpose of being sold in lucky packs. In both of these cases, the contents may be announced in advance or may be a complete mystery. The value they contain will usually be 3-5 folds of the tag price of the lucky pack. Some brands will promote their packs with phrases like "10 500yen lucky packs: contains over 35 000yen in items". In the case of specially made for lucky pack contents, you have to take this with a grain of salt since the items were never sold at retail prices, so the tag price of each item do not have an original retail price to reflect.
Stemming from a New Year tradition, lucky packs usually go on sale at the beginning of January with the New Year; however, as my friends and I discovered, some stores may put a batch up for sale early without any prior notice. Below you will find my casual report of our discovery of this anomaly as I finally achieved my ultimate lolita/shopaholic vacation this year, a lucky pack shopping trip! I think it's now shifted from ultimate goal to annual addiction.