How to handle the summer sales – 5 top tips to get full value out of half price

It’s that time of year again. Summer has just about started (for some of us, sorry UK and Ireland!) and ironically, so have the sales. I can remember a time, about five or six years ago, when the sales were just plain depressing and no proper bargains were to be had anywhere in the western hemisphere. People had money, or thought they did, and were spending heavily. It was a time when I wouldn’t flinch at handing over 70 Euros for a nice top, even though I was earning very little. It was what it cost, and if you weren’t willing to part with that kind of money, you had to wear something ugly. Nice clothes were selling out quickly and nobody was holding out for the sales. What was still available in the end of season sales wasn’t anything you would have bought in the first place. I’m not saying bless the recession but really, apart from the collapse of the world economy, the breakdown of the housing market and the rise in unemployment, it has been a god send for us compulsive shoppers. Yes, you may take this with a pinch of salt.

For my part, I haven’t bought ANYTHING at full price in about a year. I don’t have to – I only have to lurk around my favourite stores a bit more often, and usually the item I desire will be available in some sort of mid season sale at half price within a few weeks of arriving in store. This speculative wait works for me 95% of the time. I forget about the other five percent I couldn’t get on sale. Half price or not, you can’t have everything.

If you want to get the most out of the summer sales, here are my top tips for how to do it:

1. Go early

If you want to get the best bargains, you have to be the first in the shop when the sale starts. High street chains can be a bit erratic and they are not going to tell you when exactly they will put up the 70% off signs, so you’ll have to be on their case. Walking past a few times a week is crucial – or exchange information with your equally fashion enthusiastic friend or colleague.

2. Know what you want

Before you even approach the sales rack (which is probably chaos, and blocked off by buggies and dangerous looking women with elevated elbows), know what it is that you want to buy today. How do I do that, you wonder? I follow the collections of my favourite labels either instore or on their website. By the time the sale starts, I already have two or three things in mind that I would like to get, but wasn’t willing to pay the full price for. So in amongst all the chaos, look for the items you wanted anyway. Knowing what you are looking for will focus you immensely, and you are reducing the risk of coming home with some neon green bodycon dress that you got because it was the only cheap thing in your size.

3. Don’t forget the rules of “What not to buy

They apply to the sales equally. You do not have to get something because it is cheap. Something cheap you are not going to wear is still money wasted.

4. Accept the queue

There will be a queue for the changing room when the sales are on and the shops are busy. Live with it. You absolutely have to try things on before you buy them as most shops have a no returns policy on reduced items. Unless of course you have followed point 2, and already tried on what you are going to buy today before it came on sale.

5. Shop the web

We all know the problem – you have found your favourite dress, the last remaining one, at half price, and coincidentally also at half your size. “I will lose some pounds,” you keep saying to yourself, and buy the dress that you will never be able to fit into. This may sound cruel, but to be good at the sales game you have to be honest with yourself. You will live a much better life accepting your figure and having another pie than trying to slim yourself into a dress. But don’t despair! If there is a will, there is a way, and nowadays you can get ANYTHING you want on the internet. A woman who was smarter and quicker than you might have beaten you to the dress in your size, but there is a good chance it is still available on the website.

So, happy shopping!

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