The January sales promise bargains galore – but sometimes the deals aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. Whether it’s avoiding dodgy discounts or bypassing bogus bargains, we look at how to beat the January sales splurge
Christmas day is done. The turkey leftovers are in the fridge waiting to be turned into something delicious. Everything will soon be back to normal. But first, we have the January sales. These days, the sales usually start on Boxing Day. But sometimes they can kick off even before Christmas day.
The sales can be a time to pick up a real bargain. But more often than not we end up spending money we don’t have on things we don’t need. To be sure we don’t end up regretting a January splurge, here’s a few pointers to surviving the sales.
Prepare and Budget
If we don’t want to spend more than we have, the trick is to do a bit of prep. If we ask ourselves a few questions before we delve into the sales, we can save ourselves time and money.
- What do we really want?
- How much do we have to spend?
- Where can we get the best deals?
Writing a list, and setting a solid budget are key to not overspending or ending up with unwanted stuff. Once we’ve done that, we can check online for the things we’re after within the budget we’ve set. We don’t even need to physically go onto the high street anymore, with most sales prices available online. But if we do want to get out to the shops…
Beware the Bogus Bargain
Shopping in the sales can be like joining a scrum. People fighting over bargains, shops packed full of shoppers, Christmas songs blaring out. It’s like a high pressure version of supermarket sweep.
In the middle of all of this chaos, staying calm and picking up real value is near impossible. This is done on purpose – retailers know that a high pressure situation makes us spend more.
Which? magazine recently did some research into how genuine special offers were. They were looking at Black Friday deals, but the same thing applies for the January sales.
Their research showed that a whopping 87% of so-called ‘special offers’ were actually the same price or cheaper throughout the year. In the same survey, 68% of people said they expected prices to be lowest during the sale. So, how can we be sure of getting a bargain?
Use a Price Tracker
Which? also have a handy price tracker on their website. The tracker lists the prices of over 20 categories of goods – from headphones to washing machines. Using data from a vast range of shops, it tracks the price of a product over a 12-month period. This means we can see at a glance the product’s price history.
Using this tool before heading out to the sales gives us a solid understanding of what is a bargain and what is a rip off. There are other price trackers, too – CamelCamelCamel (run by Amazon) and Pricerunner are two of the biggest.
Start with them, spend a few minutes checking prices, and we can save ourselves a few quid.
For more tips from Which? magazine on surviving the sales follow this link.