Carol O’Callaghan takes a trip around the shops to see what discounts are on offer to finish off a home interior project.
Just when you thought Christmas gift buying was over and you’d made a promise never to darken the door of another shop, the sales begin and lure you off your fireside chair into the wind and rain — in anticipation of a bargain.
If you missed Black Friday, now is the time to nab the covetable, but pricey sofa you’ve been hankering after, or the statement piece dining table and chairs, or just the comfort of a new and supportive mattress. The object of my own affections is a crimson velvet Chesterfield sofa.
But if you’re not a devoted sales shopper who queued outside a shop at 4am on St Stephen’s Day, nor a browser who’s happy to go from shop to shop in anticipation of finding the perfect item at the right price, preparation is key to narrow down your options before hitting the shops.
“Research online first,” says David Casey of Casey’s Furniture, where generations of shoppers have been picking up bargains in the new year’s sales.
“See what’s available,” he stresses, “and have an idea of your budget.”
“Take the measurements of your room so you know the sofa or table or bed will fit in.
“After that, come into the shop and sit on the furniture. This is really important when you are buying chairs, and it’s very important when buying a bed, to lie on it first.”
With so much choice out there, it isn’t necessarily always a good thing when it comes to trying to make a decision.
“Narrow it down to style,” David advises. “Otherwise you can get bogged down. If you’re buying a sofa, do you want leather or fabric upholstery for example?”
Gavin White, of EZ Living, says, “Don’t be duped by deals. Buy what’s right for your room, not what’s on offer.”
He, too, advises research and deciding on the style you want. “Take your time, look around, and then go home and think about it.
“We’ve known people to buy things quickly in the sales without thinking if it’s a fit for their family and lifestyle. If you have children and pets, that means you need a more durable material.”
Neglecting to measure up before embarking on a shopping expedition is another issue Gavin highlights. “I’ve had customers in tears on the phone who ordered a sofa but found it wouldn’t fit in the door.
“It’s easy to think something is the right size when you see it in a huge showroom — so measure up.
“Something simple like getting sheets of paper and placing them on the floor where the furniture will go will give you an accurate measurement.”
When it comes to styling and pulling an interior look together, Gavin stresses that you’re not confined to the colours and materials you see on display models.
“If you don’t see what you’re looking for, ask. We can have over 200 fabrics.”
Box clever as well, and don’t fight shy of enquiring about the possibility of buying a floor model which has been on display and probably sat upon quite a few times by
prospective buyers and tired shoppers.
These are usually sold off cheaper as they may not be pristine, and you might, only might, have to contend with a little scuffing and staining. The price, however, could mitigate this, and if you’re handy with a stain removal product and can rectify a scuff mark, then you could be onto a winner.
Note too, that some shops will have extensive warehouse stock which features in their sales catalogue, so you can spare yourself the typical six to eight week wait for delivery if you need the furniture urgently, or want to get a revamp project done and dusted.
Be shrewd, though, about hidden costs which can creep in. You might have just found the perfect bargain item and patted yourself on the back for the saving you’ve made, but are you then getting stuck with pricey delivery charges and the problem of packaging disposal?
Some retailers will offer free local and nationwide delivery on all furniture items, and will even take away an old bed for recycling, and packaging from the new one.
So, do your homework, but above all, remember the retailing wisdom we’ve all heard from our tribal elders: It isn’t a bargain unless you needed it in the first place.
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