MAKING CENTS: Don’t be in such a rush to pick up bargains at sales

After spending the last few weeks focusing on loved ones, the January sales are a chance for shoppers to think about their own wishlist, writes Grainne McGuinness.

Hardcore spenders are already planning their sprees and more will be tempted out if Santa leaves vouchers and gift cards under the tree.

But is there real value to be had in the sales? And how committed do you have to be to bag a bargain?

I spoke to Dee Kelly Morgan, style adviser at Mahon Point Shopping Centre in Cork, and started by asking was it worth heading to the sales?

“Absolutely, there will be really good value,” she answers. “And not just clothes - crockery, bedlinen, there is so much value to be had just for waiting the few days for the sales.”

More fainthearted shoppers are put off by footage of hordes descending on St Stephens Day but Dee doesn’t think that’s necessary to nab a bargain.

“You don’t need to go in on the first or second day. I wouldn’t be a fan at all because people can make crazy choices and buy rubbish.

“It’s panic buying, people make uncalculated decisions - I find shoppers who buy like that don’t end up wearing what they get.”

She suggests walking away and sleeping on big decision: “And then if you still want it, get it.

“One of my rules with clients is if you wouldn’t have bought it at full price, don’t buy it in the sale.”

MAKING CENTS: Don’t be in such a rush to pick up bargains at sales

Dee believes in drawing up a list before you begin, rather than just getting what catches your eye.

“If you’re going in to buy clothes or accessories in a sale, make sure you come out with an outfit.

“People go in and buy bits and pieces and they end up never wearing them because they’ve nothing to put with it.

“Make sure it marries into the wardrobe you have already.

“If you’re going to buy a good piece in the sales make sure you either buy something to go with it or that you have something already at home to wear with it. Otherwise you’ll be looking at it in two years time, up in the wardrobe with the tags still on.”

Of course bargain-hunters will be after more than clothes in the sales but similar rules apply to larger purchases too. If you have a computer, TV or white goods in mind, work out what you need before even browsing. There’s no point being swayed by extra features or a particularly good deal if the item doesn’t suit your purpose.

If you do bag a bargain but then find a problem, you still have rights. During the sales, some shops display notices such as “No Refunds” or “No Exchanges” but this does not take away your rights under consumer protection law if the goods are faulty. This doesn’t apply if the fault was pointed out before you purchased.

As well as a shopping list, it’s also worth deciding on your budget before you head out.

It’s dangerously easy to get drawn into a mentality of ‘it’s a bargain so I’m saving myself money’.

MAKING CENTS: Don’t be in such a rush to pick up bargains at sales

But you are still most definitely spending money every time you make a purchase so keep track. Ideally bring cash - and once it’s gone, it’s gone.

If you are paying with your credit card, keep a running total and have decided your limit in advance. If you do have a gift card, check the expiry date and bear it in mind. Don’t pick up something in the sales just for the sake of it, but equally, do remember to use it.

If you are a last-minute Christmas shopper who is considering buying a gift card for someone, Dee suggested a way to make it that bit more special.

“Avail of the personal shopping service that most shops have nowadays. Mahon Point and other shopping centres have them but so do loads of shops, Debenhams, Brown Thomas and many more.

“What a lovely thing to give a loved one a gift voucher and have an appointment booked for him or her with a personal shopper.

Go online or make the call to book and then they’ll get professional advice and service while picking out their bargains.”

DEAL OF THE WEEK

If you are looking for some last-minute food deals as you get sorted for the big day, keep an eye on Lidl website and social media accounts.

They have 12 days of Christmas offers running up until Christmas Eve.

There are one or two products on offer available each day; announced that morning in store and online.

MAKING CENTS: Don’t be in such a rush to pick up bargains at sales

Early examples included M&Ms selection boxes for €1; 70cl of Bushmills Irish Whiskey reduced to €16.99 and a 20 box of Tayto for €1.99. Perfect for stocking the cupboards for unexpected visitors.

Each offer is limited to the stock available and there were some complaints on social media of products running out the first few days.

Now Lidl say quotas apply, customers can only buy a maximum of three of each product.

But as with all Lidl special offers, if you see something you really want, probably best to try and get in early.

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