Black Friday: The investment buyer’s sales guide

Annmarie O’Connor on how to shop the sales this Black Friday.

Black Friday: The investment buyer’s sales guide

Black Friday is nearly upon us. The November sales juggernaut, co-opted from our American brethren, has become a firm fixture on the Irish retail calendar, writes Annmarie O’Connor.

No longer are we forced to wait until the Christmas turkey cools before bagging those half-price Prada boots; the season of self-gifting starts now and shoppers are loving it.

Traditionally celebrated the day after Thanksgiving, the now global shopping event marks the start of the yuletide commercial season with its attendant traffic and pedestrian chaos.

L.K. Bennett ‘Noemi’ rust dress, full price €475, will be reduced by 25%.
L.K. Bennett ‘Noemi’ rust dress, full price €475, will be reduced by 25%.

The clue is in the name as retailers’ accounts move from ‘the red’ into ‘the black’ with the onset of robust trading.

What was once a one-day wonder has morphed into an extended weekend spending spree (Cyber Monday, anyone?) with some retailers promising a veritable Advent calendar of discounts well before Santa has even made a list, let alone checked it twice.

This year online behemoth Amazon launches the Amazon Black Friday Deals Store offering a whopping 10 days of discounts (November 16-25) with reductions on a grab bag of goodies from Amazon devices (hello, Alexa!) to electronics, homewares, and toys.

And therein lies the rub. With an estimated 70% of all digital purchases in Ireland made on websites outside of the Republic, bricks and mortar trade appears to be left in the looming Black Friday shade.

According to Ibec’s Retail Ireland Monitor report for the last three months of 2017, the early start to last year’s Christmas shopping period affected fashion (excluding online), with total sales value decreasing by 0.8% in December, compared to November.

The takeaway? Our habits are changing. What’s more, us shoppers are all dried up before our December paycheque even arrives.

Can we be blamed? Hardly. You can blame our ancestors instead (they won’t mind). The survival of the fittest is the primordial lodestone which underpins our shopping choices.

We may not be rocking the Cro-Magnon must-have but our hereditary herd instinct hasn’t left us — it’s just been redirected.

Flash sales, calls to action, one-day-only promotions, and exclusive offerings all tap into Fomo (fear of missing out) — the angst of being absent from the rewards enjoyed by others.

And let’s be honest: No one likes missing out. Community and social bonding underpin our most basic human instincts which make being left to pasture a bit of a bummer.

Physical threats of yore (not eating; being eaten) have morphed into equally imminent emotional fears with perceived social exclusion (the equivalent of being mauled by a sabre-toothed cat), keeping shoppers primed at all times.

Admittedly, nothing feels quite like bagging some swag: the rush of pheromones to the brain, the seeming validation of one’s fiscal prowess, tales of heroic sale slaying, parading one’s retail kill.

But when it comes to shopping, this desire for immediacy and its attendant gratification is what has us in the familiar ‘blew all my cash before Christmas’ conundrum.

According to Rolf Dobelli, author of The Art of Thinking Clearly, “The closer a reward is, the higher our ‘emotional interest rate’ rises and the more we are willing to give in exchange for it.”

The more instant a reward, the less willing we are to postpone the delicious thrill.

That’s not to say you can’t get your fashion flutters on November 23. After all, black is always in fashion even if you have to wait a bit longer for those boutique finds or big investment buys (I’m looking at you, Balenciaga handbag).

The key to buying something you won’t regret a month later is in limiting choice. Too many options create anxiety, weaken your decision muscles and causes serious wallet fatigue.

The greater the variety, the less sure we are of our selection. By establishing a budget and considering how what you are buying fits into the big picture (more on that later), you’ll kick impulse buyer and its buddy buyer’s remorse squarely to the curb.

The easiest way to do this? Carry out a closet audit before parting with any cash.

Look for gaps that could be filled with wardrobe heroes that’ll add value to your wardrobe with a solid cost-per-wear ratio (one coat x Irish winter = dead cert).

L.K. Bennet Quincy coat, full price €695, will be reduced by 25%.
L.K. Bennet Quincy coat, full price €695, will be reduced by 25%.

That mohair beauty you couldn’t afford a few months ago? Now’s the time to invest. Sales have an inimitable way of making us stock up on items we’d never have bought in the first place.

When faced with the object of our desires that the brain shifts into reward-seeking fifth gear to make sure we don’t miss out.

But when the buzz wears off and the pink fairy dust has settled, we begin to see things a little differently.

The hype of Black Friday bears the hallmark of scoring drunkenly in a club at the end of the night.

It’s that compulsion to buy something simply because you’re there; only to cringe at that regrettable tie-dyed boob tube tucked away in the wardrobe.

Don’t be that person.

Rumour has it LK Bennett and Kildare Village are offering some timeless investment pieces (think midi dresses and check double-breasted trench coats) from 25% off. Not a bad deal.

Should the idea of crowd surfing fill you with existential dread, the same rules apply online — if not more.

The ease of clicking to cart; the sense of non-spending online; not to mention our aversion to loss (Only two left! Going, going, gone!) creates the perfect facepalm storm.

But, like most things in life, there’s an app for that. Pinterest is a handy half-way house for parking our preferred interests. Many online stores have wish lists but Pinterest will collate these wishes.

Littlewoods, top, has 50% on selected autumn fashion
Littlewoods, top, has 50% on selected autumn fashion

Putting aside anything interested but unrelated to your shopping mission offsets cognitive overload which affects our ability to process information and make decent decisions.

Give yourself a cooling off period of a few hours to allow the pink fairy dust to subside. It’s much easier than having to go through the hassle of returns once you’ve activated that trigger finger.

Speaking of which, poor fit is one of the biggest reasons cited for online sales returns.

Fall between sizes? Split the difference by buying your size plus either a size up or down.

Not only will you have a greater chance of getting it right but delivery charges are often waived on larger purchases.

Online brands like Arket, Littlewoods Ireland, and Asos are leading the way in customer-friendly delivery and returns policies that put the therapy back into retail. Win-win.

Remember: Slaying the sales doesn’t involve filling a sleigh with swag.

Often, it’s the one thing we really want that makes it all the more special. Just ask Santa.

THE DISCOUNT DOSSIER

Your blueprint for some of the best bargains.

Debenhams (debenhams.ie): Online deals start Tuesday. In-store deals start Friday, Nov 23.

Kildare Village (kildarevillage.com): in-store deals from 25% off.

Littlewoods Ireland (littlewoodsireland.ie): up to 50% on selected autumn fashion; up to 40% on selected sports fashion. Online pre-deals until Thursday. Online deals start Monday until Monday, Nov 26.

LK Bennett (lkbennett.com): 25% off In store and online deals start Friday until Monday, Nov 26.

Mango (mango.com): up to 30% off in-store and online deals start Friday until Monday, Nov 26.

Opera Lane (operalane.com): up to 50% off In store deals from Friday until Monday, Nov 26.

Gap: up to 50% off.

Specsavers: half price on designer range of frames.

Topshop: 30-40% on selected stock.

River Island: 30-40% on selected stock.

New Look: up to 50% off.

Parfois (parfois.com): 20% off everything and 50% off selected items. In store and online deals start Friday until Sunday, Nov 25.

More in this section

Click and connect: 100 places in Munster to shop locally this Christmas