- How to get the most out of your sales experience
- Your rights in the sales
- Buying online
- Using a credit card
- Best places to shop for sales online
Doing well at the sales is like a military exercise. You need to plan, eat well beforehand, keep yourself together and make sure you’re strong when you actually get in the shops! Here are our tips for winning in the sales.
1. Plan ahead and only buy what you need
Normally we say “Before the January sales arrive, take some time out to have a look in all your favourite shops and make a list of anything you want or need but can’t quite afford. When you hit the high street in January, take your list with you.”
Of course, now it’s December sales and there are even pre-Christmas sales, but the principle still holds. The big sales are on now and it’s a good idea to think about what you want to buy before you go. If you wander down to the shops – or even browse online – for pretty much anything that looks like a bargain, you will come unstuck financially.
If there are any specific dream items of clothing you have on the list it’s likely you’ve already tried them on, so you know exactly which size to look for – which can be a great time saver. Same goes with having measurements for sofas and other furniture.
This trick will also help you to avoid buying unnecessary junk – if you liked it in December and still love it now it is more likely to be a worthwhile purchase.
2. Deals can be too good to be true
Look out for offers that seem too good to be true. More often than not, they are. Always read the small print on any adverts before rushing into making a purchase.
Check out the quality, the warranty, and anything else that might make the buying decision easier.
Have a good think about whether the amount of the reduction is really a bargain – and is it a bargain if you really don’t need it?
3. Set a spending limit
Before you switch into crazy shopper mode, think long and hard about how much you can really afford to spend. Once you have this amount in your head – stick to it. If you don’t have the cash to buy what you want, it’s not worth it.
Add up your spending as you shop to make sure you don’t run over your limit. Putting sales spending on your credit card means that, unless you pay the balance in full or get an interest-free deal, you can end up paying more for the item than its pre-sale price.
If you don’t trust yourself, take your maximum amount with you in cash and leave the cards at home.If you pay off your credit card in full each month, now is a good time to get a cashback credit card, which rewards you for spending money.
4. Find a sales buddy
Sales shopping alone increases your risk of buying clothes that look silly and cost too much even with a discount. Invite your most brutally honest friend to come with you to ensure you don’t buy clothes that are two sizes too small solely because you’re getting 50% off. It’s also fun to have someone around with whom you can go off for a cup of tea and a rest every now and then.
5. Don’t panic if they don’t have your size
If you fall in love with an item of clothing, only to discover your size isn’t on the rail – don’t panic! Ask a shop assistant if they have your size in the stockroom.
Failing that, ask them to call other stores in the area; to see if they have what you want. It might not be convenient to call at that moment so ask them if they’d be prepared to phone them at a quieter time.
6. Eat well and rest well
One sure-fire way of buying the wrong things is to get so tired and hungry you stop thinking straight. Make sure you eat well before you go out and arrange quick breaks every hour or so to re-charge your batteries.
We have a full run-down of your rights in the sales in this consumer rights article. The important things to know, though, are that:
- Consumers have the same rights when they buy goods in a sale as at any other time of the year. Any shop with signs declaring “no returns on sale goods” are illegal and misleading. Your rights do not decrease when prices are reduced.
- But bear in mind that when it comes to items that customers want to return because they’ve changed their mind, it’s the wrong size or a duplicate of what is already owned, there is no legal requirement for the shop to take the items back. You must rely on the goodwill of the retailer.
Most shops, especially the large retailers, have a “returns policy” where they will allow customers to return their item and get a refund, exchange, credit note or gift voucher to the same value instead. Most policies have time limits so be aware when buying.
Shops do have a legal requirement to take back goods that may have been faulty or damaged before the purchase. However, if the item was marked as faulty or defective and customers still buy them, the shop does not have to refund or exchange the purchase.
It’s illegal for shops to pretend that items have been reduced from a higher price to the sale price. But be aware that shops will sometimes buy in goods just to sell during the sales.
If you lose your receipts, your rights still apply but you will need an alternative proof of purchase such as a credit card bill or bank statement.
If you buy online you have more rights, interestingly. There’s a cooling-off period starting from when the you place the order and ending seven working days after you get the item. You can cancel the order for any reason during that time. You still need proof of purchase and if the item was a gift, you need to know the date that it was received by the buyer (not the person given the gift).
If you buy things with a credit card and then you have problems with the item (say it doesn’t turn up if you have ordered it or it is seriously faulty), you can get the credit company to refund you. Under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, the credit-card company is ‘jointly and severally liable’, along with the retailer, for the goods. This also applies to items that are bought abroad. You must have spent between £100 and £30,000, but you don’t have to have paid the full amount. Even if you’ve just paid part, such as a deposit, you can still make a claim.
All of these have great sales on right now. In fact some (such as John Lewis) have already started to reduce items even further. The great thing about shopping in the online sales, too, is that you can do it in the comfort of your own home in your pajamas! What could be better?
- John Lewis
- Dorothy Perkins