The Professional’s Guide To Sales Shopping « Stylelogue

The Professional’s Guide To Sales Shopping

December 28th, 2011

How To Survive The Sales

Sales shopping can be a chaotic minefield but it doesn’t have to be. We all lust after being the proud owner of a bargain. Likewise we all hope to find those pieces we’ve had our eye on for months at vastly reduced rates. Armed with just a few simple tricks and clever tactics, why not endeavour to make this year’s experience a success for you, your wardrobe and your bank balance? 


The most important aspect of your shopping trip- to ensure you don’t end up with those post-shopping blues, look at your finances before you begin. Work out what you can afford for your shopping spree before you start making a list of what you want. It will be harder to do it the other way round.


Think carefully about what you need in your wardrobe, then about what you want and then decide how far you are willing to compromise. If you know you need a new pair of black boots and all you can find is a pair of chocolate brown boots, it is not necessarily the right second choice, if your reasoning is, “I just want to buy something”. If you know you need black boots then hold out for them. Make a list with two or three columns- 1/ Things I really need, 2/ Things I’d like but don’t really need, 3/ Luxury items that I’m lusting after. If you’re on a strict budget you should aim to stick to 1/ but if you have less financial constraints or you don’t actually need anything then keep it to 2/ with a smattering of 3/.


Decide on your route and destinations before you arrive. Plan exactly when you’re going to leave and stick to it. Look upon your trip as fulfilling a mission rather than a pleasant day’s shopping. January sales are exceptionally busy, chaotic and competitive. Without clever planning, they have the potential to leave you feeling stressed and jaded, making you more likely to miss out on those really smart purchases and ending up with rubbish you neither like, need nor want.  

Tip….. Why not be clever and try on those things you’re hoping to buy before the sales start so you know exactly what size you take and won’t have to queue for the fitting room. 


When you go shopping is crucial but the best time to go depends on what you’re hoping to achieve. If you are looking for particular items that you’ve had your eye on for a while and are pretty sure they hadn’t sold out weeks ago, it’s probably best to brave the first couple of days of the sales and snag your prizes. This means leaving at the crack of dawn and being willing to queue if necessary. Crowds and congestion increase in the middle of the day and at the very end so avoid these times at all costs and go early, early, early!

The advantages of going at the very beginning are 

- more choice in style, colour and size meaning you are more likely to find what you are looking for as well as the very best pieces will not be sold out. 

But the disadvantages also need to be considered- 

- Prices are higher as reductions are only at their very beginning. Waiting just a couple of weeks could see a further 20-30% slashed off. 

- Shop floors, changing rooms, tills and toilets will be swarming and heaving with eager, ambitious shoppers desperate to find a bargain or a particular item. This can be stressful, hot and might mean you’re queuing for ages just to try something on. This can try the patience of the very calmest individual.

- Restaurants, cafes and public transport will also be much busier than usual. 

Tip…. If you don’t have your heart set on something in particular, why not wait a week until the crowds have died down? What you haven’t seen you won’t miss and it’ll be a much pleasanter experience all round.

Tip…..Think twice about travelling with babies and children in the first few days of the sales. It will be harder to navigate with a buggy than alone and think about whether your baby or child will enjoy the experience of manic sale shopping with you.

Need Vs Want

In these less than forgiving financial times, we all want to come out winners in our wardrobe and clothing purchases. For this reason and many more, the allure of the January sales and all they promise should be carefully rationalised and considered. If an item is 30% off you do not necessarily need it. It might not look that great on you. It may not fit that well. The colour might be slightly wrong. As with every other purchase you make during the rest of the year, only buy something if it feels right and you can see yourself wearing it. A bargain is not a bargain if you never cut the label off, it is merely a waste of money.   

What To Wear And Bring

It is vital that you dress for the ‘occasion’. Your first priority should be comfort and ease of changing. Ideally, wear leggings and a long, loose top over a vest which will allow for some swift shop floor changes and avoiding the fitting rooms. Leggings are comfy and easy to get on and off when you are in a private room. Choose comfortable footwear that you’re happy to be on your feet all day in. If you can, wear shoes or boots you’d normally wear so you can get an idea how they look with your outfits. Bring a pair of flats (if you can) if you’re looking for new clothes that you’ll be wearing without heels. On the other hand, keep your handbag small but big enough to fit a bottle of water inside and make sure you bring a bottle and some light snacks to keep you going such as nuts or dried fruit. The best handbags for shopping are across the body small bags which won’t be knocked off your shoulder in congested environments. 

If you can, wear a lace free, strapless, nude tee shirt bra and nude knickers. The less distraction the better when trying things on and nude underwear is always the safest bet as it camouflages against the skin. Avoid heavily embellished bras and pants which can distract from outfits. 

If you’re going to a shopping centre consider leaving your coat in the car so you’re left with as few layers as possible.

Check Returns And Other Store Policies

Certain upper market stores have different policies during sale times meaning their returns’ period can be shorter. Make sure you check this in advance either by phoning ahead or on the internet. Some stores do not allow refunds on sale items at all.

The other thing to be aware of is that most shops will not put items on hold during the sales. This means that if you like something but want to look around, now is probably not the time to do so. If you are aware of the shop’s returns policy, it’s worth buying what you like as you see it because it might be gone five minutes later.

And finally, make sure you check whether or not an item is faulty. Sometimes items are unearthed from the stock room because they are damaged which invariably means they are non-refundable so make sure you are aware if this.

Discounts, Savings and Rewards

Now is the time to use cash back credit cards or store reward cards to earn points. Also check for deals and discounts that shops are doing in addition to their standard reductions. Just because a sale is on does not mean there are not further bargains to be found. Many vouchers expire mid January so check everything and spend them while you can. Go online and search for voucher codes or go to websites like <>  < <> >  for latest offers and discounts.

Shop Online

If you either can’t face the crush of the high street or you can’t find a particular item in your size, go online. Most online refund policies are far more in favour of the consumer than their high street equivalent. It is also much easier to return goods at the post office than to make a trip to the shops. Check online for free delivery deals too. The only disadvantage of this method is that you may be liable for return postage costs so check the retailer’s policy before you buy.

Be Polite And Courteous To Staff And Shoppers

It is not only stressful for shoppers but for the staff too. They are experiencing exactly what you are, except they are trying to work and do not have the pleasure of making purchases. A little politeness and a smile goes a very long way. Speak to staff and others as you would hope to be spoken too. They will be more likely to want to help you, will be more lenient with how much you can take in the changing room and may even go to search for things in the stock room despite telling the grumpy person before you that they had sold out!



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