Sunday 4 December 2016

7 tips for sales shopping

As stores around the country prepare to open their doors to bargain hunters, we ask the experts for tips

Grainne Coyne

Published 25/12/2015 | 00:30

Bargain hunter: Claire McCarthy hits the shops in Ballycasey, Shannon, Co Clare. Photo: Liam Burke, Press 22.
Bargain hunter: Claire McCarthy hits the shops in Ballycasey, Shannon, Co Clare. Photo: Liam Burke, Press 22.

From queuing in freezing temperatures to knowing the shop layout, shoppers go to great lengths to grab that big deal and the winter sales pose no exception. But in the age of online shopping, why do the holiday sales still continue to appeal to so many?

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"Personally I love the buzz of the sales," says Lisa Fitzpatrick, personal stylist and presenter. "If you can get it at a knock-down price, why would you get it pre-Christmas? It's worth waiting for sales and queuing as long as it takes to be the first in and the first served."

Savvy shopper and blogger Claire McCarthy says it's the drive to get a bargain and to make the ultimate saving that appeals to her. "The savings are so good and the stuff is just such good quality. It's worth doing it because you save so much."

While some come seeking bargains, Clara Halpin, who has been Arnott's head of personal shopping for 10 years, says the winter sales can be an annual tradition for families. "They really make a day of it, have their lunch; it's very much the experience. I think while online is wonderful, there are a lot of people that do love to touch and feel the product."

Dublin-based personal stylist, Natalie Svikle, says the winter sales are a great time to grab items for the new seasons ahead.

"Sales are just not your opportunity to grab a bargain but also it's your opportunity to tap into the brands, into the price range, into the quality that you normally can't afford full price."

So here are a few tips to nab that bargain in the upcoming sales.

Keep warm

While temperatures this time of year can vary, it's still important to keep warm, especially if you plan on queuing early. "You don't understand cold, until you're out at three o'clock in the morning on St Stephen's Day," says Claire McCarthy, recalling her experience last year when she started queuing from 1.30am for the Next sales in Limerick.

"Bring the ear muffs, bring the hat, and bring a sleeping bag. Bring it all! Whatever you think you might need, bring it, because you will absolutely need it," she adds.

Lisa Fitzpatrick also recommends wrapping up and says hand warmers, hot water bottles and even a hat, can help with those early morning queues. While those layers may be a hindrance when it comes to that in-store rush, Lisa says you can remove them once you arrive in store. "Tie your jacket around your waist and when those doors open dive in and go directly to the area."

Take a nap before leaving

"Take a nap before you head because it's going to be a long night," says Claire, who was one of the lucky few to have foldable chairs during her Stephen's Day wait last year. Despite the early arrivals, sleep unfortunately won't be an option for many as space can often be limited and those long lines don't make for comfortable positioning.

Claire recommends the best way to deal with those early rises is by preparing the day before and squeezing a nap in if possible on Christmas day. "Get the sleep in. Get everything packed up, be organised and know what you're going for."

Know the layout

Preparation is key, especially when it comes to sales and knowing the layout of the store can be a great help. For Claire, she recommends arriving to the stores a few days beforehand just to be familiar with the store's layout. "Know where the stuff is, know the store and I know Next are very clever - they kind of rail everything up. But get to know their sales, because when you know how they lay out the shops, it's so much easier."

Grab, look, and buy

While browsing is a nice approach to shopping, the mad rush that is the winter sales means that you probably won't have the time.

Claire recommends grabbing items that you think you might like off the rails, and then inspecting them in a corner to see if you actually want to buy. "I think it's the best strategy, otherwise someone else will have it gone on me. While I'm standing there thinking someone else has it swiped. I'm not taking the risk."

While Natalie believes that it's important to take your time with shopping and not grab items, she says queuing for the till can be a good opportunity to examine items before purchasing.

"Utilise the time to make sure the items you're getting is actually the right one for you."

Focus on what you need

From investing in new kitchenware to updating your wardrobe, it's important to beware of the 'shiny object syndrome', where customers would be more tempted by the discount rather than the actual object itself. "Unless you would buy this item full price and know you need it, it's a waste, not a bargain," says Natalie. Clara reckons when it comes to your wardrobe you should focus on what you need and what is suitable for your lifestyle. "It's about spending money where you spend your time within your lifestyle and not about maybe having lots of clothes for going out."

Prepare for unusual strategies

When it comes to grabbing bargains and queuing, people use many unusual strategies to grab that first desirable discount. This was something Claire witnessed first hand last year when some people subtly skipped to the top of the queue through polite conversation.

"They moved their way up the queue and started chatting to people along the queue. And before you know it, they were at the top."

Claire says she also used an unusual tactic of pretending to be sick one year in order to grab the last box of saucepans at the winter sales. "There was one box I spotted and I saw a woman heading towards it, so I started pretending and she kind of backed away."

Shop alone

When it comes to shopping with a goal and an eye for a bargain, it's usually best to shop alone. Natalie recommends this especially when it comes to children and sales, and says that it can be a good idea to leave the little ones at home.

Lisa says:"If you shop in pairs and shop in groups you don't get the job done. I personally prefer to get in myself early, get the job done with no distractions of friends chatting."

Irish Independent

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