A trip to the shops to buy something longed for can be fun, but battling the sales and figuring out what’s a true bargain can be a minefield, writes Carol O’Callaghan.
The winter sales are on, love them or loathe them, but if you’re anything like me, the thought of queuing up outside a shop at 3am followed by the rush and crush through the doors when they open at 6am, makes the thought of turning over and going back to sleep seem like the best possible option.
Of course, some of the most hardened shoppers might opt to avoid the scuffle while wallets are in recovery after Black Friday and Christmas shopping. But then again they might be ready to spend on a splurge-worthy item from a hitherto restrained purse fattened with dosh over months.
Either way, if you’re in the market for a purchase or two, according to some of the retailers who offer bargains at this time of year, there are certain things to do in preparation before you hit the shops. Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, we apparently need something called a shopping strategy.
Tracey O’Shea, senior sales consultant, at EZ Living Interiors, says, “We would say planning is key. Know your requirements; have an idea of what you like — colour, design. Measurements are really important. If you want a six-foot bed, do you have lockers either side? What’s the length of your wall? It might not all fit, so a five foot might be what you need. And think about colours and fabric, particularly with children and pets around.”
Things get more strategic when it comes down to the detail, with Tracey advising, “Have three or four choices in mind. When picking sofas, especially corner ones, ask yourself is it left or right facing? Where is the TV and the fireplace? If it’s for a new house, bring in the plans.
For anyone who wants something specific in the sales but dreads the cut and thrust on the first day, it will come as a relief to hear that Tracey believes in taking your time.
“Don’t rush, and know your budget. Tell us how much you have to spend to get the best quality. No need to get caught up in the hype.
“You might make the wrong decision. It’s really important to remember you can have a beautiful home without a big budget.”
A top tip from Tracey is to pick out one key piece which makes a statement. It could be a sofa, or even a vase on a coffee table. Don’t have several key pieces.
If the thought of tackling the shops still has you in dread, and an hour with the computer from the comfort of your fireside for a spot of online shopping is the preferred option, remember the shopper’s principle, caveat emptor before hitting the “purchase now” button.
“Shopping online is handy but you have to come into the shop,” says David Casey, sales director at Casey’s.
“We know that coming into the sales on the first day can be daunting, unless you are buying a floor model, but we don’t get queues like we used to as people are more particular nowadays and they’re taking their time. Do your research and keep to a plan. Don’t buy what looks great if it doesn’t feel comfortable. You’re going to have an item a long time and looks will wane, comfort won’t.
“Research is really important, particularly if you’re buying a bed. There’s a saying: You’re either in bed or in a pair of shoes. If you’re on a budget, put your money in the mattress and buy the headboard later.”
Five tips from Caroline Breen, Interiosity