How to be a savvy shopper in the summer sales

Summer sales can be a great time to bag a bargain. But research commissioned by Harvey Nichols has found that, sometimes, these bargains can turn out to be a real waste of money – to the tune of £9,000. So how do you shop wisely in the sales?

Savvy Shopping BlogSummer is traditionally one of the best times for sales, although in reality there are discounts to be had on the high street and online pretty much all year round – which makes the following advice all the more relevant.

The lure of hefty discounts and knockdown prices means the average Brit wastes £142 a year buying items they never wear – which is equivalent to a staggering £9,159 over an average lifetime*.

Here’s how to make sure you (not your local charity shop) get to enjoy those bargains this summer.

The early bird catches the worm

It almost goes without saying that the best bargains and the most popular sizes always sell out first, so it pays to head to the sales during the first few days. You might need to brace yourself for a bit of a scuffle but it will give you the best choice of sales offers.

Know what you want (what you really, really want)

Remember, nothing’s a bargain unless you were going to buy it anyway! Have a list of things you need and don’t stray from it – that way you’re less likely to go home with something you don’t really need just because it was cheap.

Pick on something your own size

When faced with a coveted item of clothing, a size too small but at a bargain price, the research found that around a quarter of women will think ‘diet’ as they reach for their credit card. But, as very few of us actually manage to slim to fit, it’s best to avoid this strategy.

Try before you buy

Let’s face it, queueing for the changing room in a busy shop can be tedious. But a third of shoppers in the survey admitted items bought this way looked awful when they got home, and nearly a quarter said they didn’t fit. Remember this when you’re next eyeing up the queue – just a few seconds in front of the mirror could be long enough to turn a must-have bargain into a well-dodged fashion mistake.

Compare and contrast

There are strict rules requiring retailers to be honest about the discounts they’re offering in the sales, but just because something has been reduced by 50% or more doesn’t mean you can’t buy it cheaper elsewhere. A quick check online through comparison sites such as Google Shopping or PriceRunner will show you if you can get it for less.

Take the right friend

A second opinion can be really useful in the sales, but only if it’s someone who’ll give you an honest opinion rather than encourage you to spend more.

Turn waste into wealth

It can also help if you have an incentive to stop you splashing out on spur of the moment sale items. If you saved the average £142 wasted each year at the sales, it could grow into a significant sum.

As an example, assuming you saved £142 every year and your money grew at 4% a year, after five years it would be worth nearly £800. After 10 years, it would be worth just over £1,770 – not bad for money that could have been wasted on fashion mistakes.

*Research commissioned by Harvey Nichols, undertaken by Vision Critical amongst 2,027 UK adults between 16-18 June 2014.

This blog is intended to provide information, not financial advice, to help you make an informed decision about savings and investments. We do not offer financial advice. You should contact a financial adviser, who may charge a fee, if you want financial advice.

You should also be aware that in some investment conditions and depending on the product you have chosen, you may get back less than you have paid in.

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