It’s that time of the year when everyone is skint, but somehow we can’t help being tempted by the potential bargains in the January sales. To make life that little bit easier BritMums’ shopping expert Laurretta Wright outlines some pointers that will make your sale shopping more productive, focussed and economical.
1. Make a list and set a budget
I’m not talking about writing a list the length of your arm – this is a ‘need it’ list rather than a ‘want it’ list. And there’s a huge difference. Yes, it’s fine to treat yourself of course, but keep things in perspective and don’t go mad with the money. By making a sensible list of items that you need and will use regularly, you’ll ensure that you remain focused on the task in hand. Also think about setting yourself a budget – it helps to have an idea of what you have in the bank, how many days until payday and what you can afford to spend. It’s tempting to go crazy in the January sales, especially when you can buy Christmas wrapping paper for 20p a roll, but if you’ve already got a surplus of stock in the loft that will do for this year’s Christmas gifts, why buy it? Before you commit to buying something, ask if you really need it right now.
2. Compare and contrast
I bet those two words take you back to the good old school days don’t they? But they can also be applied when it comes to getting the best bang for your buck. You see, before you even set foot out of the door (or before you hit the online shops), you’ll need to do a bit of research. With your list firmly in hand, you can start doing price comparison checks on items. Websites like Kelkoo, Pricerunner, Pricechecker and Idealo make this easy for you – but don’t forget places like Amazon, Facebook Marketplace and eBay to see if you can save more money. In fact, there’s a website called Camel Camel Camel (why didn’t they call it The Three Camels?), which offers an overview of the prices people have historically paid on Amazon for products. There are plenty of people looking to get rid of unwanted Christmas presents, so they’re worth bearing in mind.
3. Sign-up for alerts and follow favourite brands on social media
If you’re a fan of a particular shop or brand, sign up to receive their newsletters or alerts. It’ll put you in the front spot to get the heads up on the latest offers straight to your inbox. You can also follow them on social media to see if they have any ‘specials’ on, or when they’ll be announcing new stock (meaning they’ll probably be looking to ditch some of their old stock for cheap!). Think about getting a loyalty card if you haven’t already done so (to accrue points for money off), and also think about asking your favoured retailers for discounts directly. If they can see that you’re a loyal fan then retention is an important consideration for them, so it’s worth a try.
4. Don’t fall for cheap imitations
Have you noticed that there are imitations of everything nowadays? And when it comes to sales shopping, cheap imitations of products seem to be everywhere – if it looks too good to be true, then it might just be. So avoid cheap buys that are not economical to purchase in the long term (buy cheap, pay twice remember). Look for brand names you are familiar with and that you know are reputable.
5. Know your rights
The rules around sales shopping differs from store to store, so it’s important to know where you stand on returns if you buy something. Shops are not obliged by law to offer an exchange or refund on non-faulty goods that are returned – even though most do. However, they are required to issue a refund if what you’ve bought is faulty. Websites like Money Saving Expert are great for advice on this sort of thing, but be prepared to ask the question while you’re at the till so there are no surprises if you have to take something back.
6. Enjoy the shopping experience
As a last piece of advice, have fun with your shopping! It should be a pleasurable experience where you come away feeling like you’ve got a great deal on something that you need and will regularly use. And if you follow the rules above, you can’t go wrong with taking time to appreciate and enjoy a little sales shopping spree.