Struggling Nordstrom is banking on exclusivity to compete with Amazon and overcome sales woes

Though the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale officially opened to the public on Friday, July 19, the bargain hunting had already been well underway for an exclusive group of people — Nordstrom card holders.

For several years, the department store has granted its most loyal shoppers special access to the annual sale, an effort to generate buzz and clout in a market saturated with major sale events, most notablyAmazon Prime Day. As Nordstrom extends the sale to the non-cardholding public, marking the close of the member-only period that kicked off on July 12, analysts say its sales performance will be an important litmus test for the future of the struggling retailer.