Thursday, 5 January 2012

How to avoid costly sales shopping disasters.


Photo of Hendrix and me by Sean Malyon
Back in December, Suzanne Savill from The Bristol Evening Post interviewed me for an article she was doing about successfully shopping the sales. It’s so easy to get carried away in the sales, so just in case you missed the article and to make sure that your bargain really is a bargain, I thought I’d share the interview here.  Do you have any tips or advice?

Suzanne: Do people need to take a different approach to sales shopping compared to going shopping at other times – and if so why?

Me: Yes! Shopping during the sales is a totally different experience to shopping at any other time of year.  It’s not for the faint hearted you need good stamina.  Not only do retailers make the most of every available space, cramming the shelves and rails full with reduced stock, but the shops are busier than they’ve ever been before.  You’ll find yourself fighting other people for car park spaces, personal space and of course, the best bargains.  There may even be the odd elbow fight.  If you find shopping difficult mid season, then shopping during the sales is enough to bring you out in a rash!

Suzanne: What are some of the most useful tips you can give about going shopping during the sales?

Me: As a personal stylist, I spend a lot of time taking people shopping.  I’ve picked up lots of tips over the years and know exactly where to go, and what to source for each client.  I also know that when it comes to shopping during the sales, some of you find it really stressful, so here are my top ten tips to get you working the sale rails like a pro.

Top tips
1. Start early and do your research.  If you know what items you want to buy. Start tracking them online before the sales so you’re in with a chance of getting your size when the price is slashed. Maybe even ring the store to see if it’s in stock before you venture out.

2. Use the sales as an opportunity to invest in good quality items that you wouldn’t normally be able to afford. 
3. Be organised and work out what’s really missing from your wardrobe.  This isn’t the time to try umpteen different outfits on, you need to make a list and stick to it.

4. Get to the shops nice and early.  It always amazes me how quiet the shops are first thing. 
5. Keep focused.  It’s very easy to get seduced by slashed prices, those bright red sigs are very persuasive!

6. Before you buy something make sure it goes with three things you already own.  If it doesn’t then the chances are that you’ll get it home, not know what to put it with and will never wear it.

7. Be sensible.  There’s a tendency to panic buy, especially as most shops don’t allow you to put items on hold while you think about it.  If you find yourself 'umming' and 'erring' think to yourself ‘do I really love it, would I buy it if it was full price’?  If not then put it back.

8. Check the returns policy.  Sometimes this differs during sale time, so check that you can return it if you get it home and change your mind. 
9. Stick to your budget.  It’s so easy to get caught up in the shopping frenzy and go over budget without realising.  Check the price before you hand over your money, and keep a note of what you’ve already spent.

10. Listen to your head not heart.  If you absolutely love something but think it might not be quite right for you, leave it.  Something’s just aren’t going to suit you no matter how much love them.

Suzanne: What are some of the biggest mistakes that people make when shopping in the sales?
Me: Everyone loves a bargain and it’s very easy to get carried away in the sales, but a bargain is only a bargain if you actually wear it, otherwise you’re just wasting your money.   The biggest mistakes people usually make when shopping the sales, are buying something in the wrong size because it’s a bargain (with the intention of shrinking into it) or buying random items that they’d never normally wear...and never wearing them. Statistics show that the average woman will spend a whopping £13,500 on clothes in her lifetime that she’ll never wear.  I have no doubts that shopping in the sales is the biggest single contributor to this. 
Suzanne: Have you ever had any disasters shopping in the sales, and if so what?

Me: I once bought a pair of really cute Lulu Guinness pumps in the sale. They were about 70% off - such a bargain!  Only they were a size too small and I could only just squeeze my feet.  I thought I’d be able to stretch them, but of course I couldn’t.  I ended up selling them on eBay.

Suzanne: What have been some of your best bargains in the sales?

Me: If you know what you’re doing you can bag some great bargains.  I’m always on the lookout for premium denim at reduced costs.  Other things worth hunting down are accessories, classic knitwear, footwear (in particular a good pair of winter boots) and evening dresses.  All of these items are in abundance in the January sales, and all are key items for every wardrobe.

Suzanne: Have you ever had to do personal sales shopping, and if so what is your approach?

Me: The best time to buy winter clothes is actually during October and November, before the winter weather sets in.  The high-street’s seasons don’t run alongside the weathers, so you’ll tend to find that when the weather starts to get really cold, the shops are coming to the end of their autumn/winter season, the sales are starting and the shops are preparing for the spring collections.  I find that most people don’t start to think about their winter wardrobe until the weather gets cold and as a result, I tend to get quite busy just as the sales start.   While I try to avoid taking clients shopping during the sales (the stock becomes very fragmented and it’s often hard to source the correct sizes) I often find myself having to.  I’ve built up a good working relationship with the local retailers over the years and this helps to make it a more enjoyable and successful experience than it might otherwise be.

Happy shopping! xx

1 comment:

daisychain said...

fabulous interview and some very spot on advice.