altrocklife’s Top 10 sale shopping dos and don’ts

Hello readers!  Hope you all had a fantastic holiday period – I certainly enjoyed my time at home during the Christmas break chilling with my family and drinking far too many cocktails.  I know you’ve probably missed my updates terribly, but never fear, altrocklife is back for 2015 with plenty in store for you lucky people.

First off, I’m sure I’m not the only person who clears old, outdated and ill-fitting clothes from their wardrobes in December, am I?  It makes sense to do this boring task in December, to make way for the inevitable tsunami of post-Christmas sales purchases.

I was out first thing on Boxing Day, and again on New Year’s Eve, to make the most of the gift cards and spending money gifted to me by my generous friends and family.  Although we’re now well into January, there are still plenty of deals to be had if you look closely enough!  Here are my Top 10 hints to help you get the best deals.

DO – try and wait until January to buy expensive items

If your winter coat is starting to look a little worse for wear, or your favourite boots are starting to let the rain in, try and hold out until January to purchase replacements.  I bought a new pair of boots in November for full price because my old ones had a hole in the sole so large I could fit my thumb through, but if I’d just made do with the shoes I already own and waited until the post-Christmas sales, I could have bought them for half the price.  It may feel like you need replacements for your worn-out items NOW, but it pays to be patient.

The best high-value items to purchase during sales are:

  • Handbags
  • Coats and jackets
  • Anything made of real leather
  • Footwear

DON’T – buy for the sake of buying

Yes, I know that it’s tempting to go overboard during the sales, but chances are you may end up buying items that you never would have purchased at full price, simply because they’re discounted or ‘seem like a good deal’.  When I’m out sale shopping, for every item I pick up I try to imagine two or three different outfits from my existing wardrobe I could wear it with – if I struggle to come up with ideas, I put it back.  Sale items aren’t a bargain if they stay scrunched up at the back of your drawer with the tag still on!

DO – have an idea of what you want before you hit the shops

Before I hit the high street on Boxing Day, I already had a mental list of items I actually needed to buy: black ankle boots, jeans, a denim shirt, a dress, and a handbag.  By the time I was finished shopping, I’d crossed four out of five off the list.  Just remember that half of the fun of Christmas shopping is the element of surprise, and it’s OK to deviate from the list if you spot something – or multiple things – you really love.

DON’T – spend too much on wardrobe staples

My best finds this shopping season were discovered by nipping into the denim section of Primark and discovering that their super skinny jeans were only £11 per pair.  I would advise going to cheaper retailers for items such as jeans, leggings, tights, socks and job interview clothes, so you have more to spend on higher value statement pieces.  I bought three pairs of jeans for £33, when my previous three pairs of jeans cost me over £50, so that £17 saving went towards my annual December sale HMV raid.

(One tip, though: make sure you try on Primark jeans before buying as they tend to run small, and I had to buy size 14 denim when usually I’m usually a 12.)

DO – spend gift cards first

I know it’s tempting to save gift cards for a special occasion, but if you’ve essentially been given a card with FREE MONEY to spend in a specific store, why would you choose to spend your own hard-earned cash there when you could spend that money in a shop you don’t have gift cards for?  I was the lucky recipient of two New Look gift cards this Christmas, which added up to a total of £70.  After my Boxing Day blitz, I only have £3.79 left on one of the cards, but I hadn’t touched any of the cold hard cash I was gifted.  On the other hand, my sister – who also received £70 of New Look gift cards – went Boxing Day shopping, forgot her gift cards, and ended up not being able to afford to buy items in other shops because she had to spend her actual money in New Look.

DON’T – buy online

This may seem like strange advice, considering my dependence on online shopping, but during busy periods I find buying online is more of a hindrance than it is convenient.  Often websites can’t keep up with how quickly items are selling, and there have been too many occasions where I’ve put an item I like in my basket, only to find it’s sold out of my size by the time I check out.  Plus, due to the sheer volume of orders postage takes far longer than normal, which means if you need an item for a specific day, there’s a chance it may not arrive on time.  Obviously for people who live in rural areas online shopping is the best option, but if you have the chance to actually visit a store and do your shopping the flesh, take it.  At least in a shop you know exactly how many of each item there are available, and you can try things on!  Which leads on to my next point:

DO – try everything on

I’ve already brought this up in two of my previous points, but I think it’s important enough to warrant a segment of its own.  During sales, many stores adopt different policies which means if you buy a sale item and then have to return it, you won’t get your money back – you’ll either have to hope you can exchange it, or get a credit note.  I know that the queues to the changing rooms can look daunting at times, but the feeling of satisfaction when you take your sale purchases home with the knowledge that they all fit perfectly is compensation enough.

DON’T – be tempted to buy items even if they’re the wrong size

Following on from the last point, have you ever been shopping and spotted the most beautiful item of clothing you’ve ever seen, but felt your heart shatter into tiny pieces when you realise there’s only one left and it’s not in your size?  I’ve experienced that tragedy too many times.  Sometimes people purchase clothes that are too small for them as an incentive to lose weight or tone up, which could work, but on the other hand it could also become extremely demoralising if you don’t slim down enough to fit into it.  Don’t run the risk of that beautiful garment gathering dust in the back of your wardrobe – if you truly love something, you must set it free, and hopefully someone else will give it a loving home.

DO – set a budget

I’ve left one of the most important points until last.  If you’re like me and you received a fair amount of cash for Christmas, it can be tempting to throw caution to the wind and spend EVERYTHING in the post-Christmas sales.  However, this could lead to problems later on – say your bag breaks in February and you need a replacement, or you urgently need to visit home and have to buy pricey train tickets, you could be left in an unpleasant financial predicament.  I always make sure to put at least 10% of all my Christmas and birthday money away in my savings account, which I’m currently using to save up for driving lessons and my next tattoo.  Every little helps!

DON’T – get into fights over clothes

Am I the only person still haunted by CCTV footage of this year’s Black Friday debacle?  I hope not.  My final point is a simple one: don’t take inspiration from Black Friday shoppers.  At the end of the day, it’s only clothes you’re buying, and believe it or not you can live without that exact shirt, so no need to rip it out of someone else’s hands.

What do you think?  Did I miss out anything obvious?  Let me know in the comments or on Twitter!

Currently listening to: Let’s Talk About Your HairHave Mercy

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