How to Shop the Sales like a pro

Get the most out of sale season

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Words by Síomha Connolly
December 27th, 2016

It’s that time of year again when shoppers go crazy for the post-Christmas sales, the annual event where high street and luxury department stores alike slash their prices in order to make room for the incoming spring/summer stock. If you’re clever you can pick up some key pieces that will last you through the next season and beyond, but if you’re not you could end up with a whole heap of half price items that may never see the light of day.

To help you on your merry shopping way we’ve compiled a guide to help you navigate the sales, whether you’re shopping online from the comfort of your home or braving the shops to pick up your bargains. Read on to find out our top tips on how to get the most out of your shopping experience this sale period.


Don’t buy just because it’s on sale. First up and most importantly, never buy an item just because it’s reduced. Yes it’s great to get a bargain but try to only buy a sale item if it is something that you would buy anyway at full price. The price might be really attractive but if the colour/pattern/size is off, what’s the point? It will end up sitting in your wardrobe six months later having never been worn.

Shop with a list. Before going shopping look through your wardrobe and make a list of everything you are lacking. 10 pairs of trousers but only 5 tops you actually wear? Five pairs of trainers and only one pair of “sensible” shoes? You get the drift. Make note of any gaps in your wardrobe and use this list to guide you while shopping.

Eat before you shop and take breaks throughout the day. It’s been proven that shopping while hungry leads to rushed and impulse purchases. Your brain can’t function properly without food and this will affect your shopping trip too. Eat a good breakfast, bring a bottle of water to stay hydrated, and take a break for lunch if you’re going to be shopping all day. This is especially relevant during hectic sale times. Shopping areas can get really busy so you’re going to need your energy to get through the mad rush and long ques at the tills.

Set a budget and stick to it. This helps to avoid impulse purchases and will keep you on track all day. If you have a limited amount of money you’ll steer clear of items way out of budget and will stay more focused on what you actually need. If you find this difficult try bringing only the amount of money that you are allowing yourself to spend, that way you have no choice but to stick to your budget.

Pay with cash. The research is clear: we pay 20 – 50% more when we shop with credit or debit card. It feels more real when you have to hand over actual cash and will again help to avoid those unnecessary purchases. It’s also easier if you ever need to do refunds as you can get cash straight back rather than having to wait for a card refund, on that note…

Check the return policy before purchasing. A lot of shoppers operate on the mentality of buy now, try later, but this isn’t always possible with sale purchases. Many stores don’t offer refunds at all as reduced items are final sale. Those who do accept returns will often only offer an exchange or store credit so think wisely before you make your purchase.

Shop alone. It’s best to have no distractions while shopping so that you can stay focused. If you really need a second opinion on something, take a quick snap in the changing room, pop the item on hold for an hour, send the pic to a friend and come back for it if it gets the go ahead. Who needs real, in the flesh friends with modern technologies these days?

Ask yourself “do I really need this?” And see if you can pair the item with three outfits already in your wardrobe. If you can’t, you probably won’t get the wear out of it and purchasing this item may mean having to purchase another three items just to pair it with. An exception to this rule is an occasion piece such as a formal dress for a wedding, but what you can do in this instance is ask yourself how many occasions you’ll have to wear it. If it’s less than three occasions and has a hefty price tag, maybe reconsider and look for a more budget friendly alternative.

Check care labels. If you’re the type of person to throw everything into the washing machine at once and has been to the dry cleaners a handful of times in your life, don’t even think of buying anything that requires handwashing or dry clean only. You’ll wear it once and it will sit in the bottom of your wash basket for the rest of time, OR you’ll put it in the washing machine and it will come out in threads. There’s also the extra cost to factor in if an item requires dry clean only. An extra €10 or more every time you wear an item is a lot to take on.

Shop around for extra discounts and rewards. This is especially relevant for online shopping as different retailers will offer different discounts. There’s nothing worse than buying something at 30% off only to see another website is offering 40% or 50%. Shop around before you splash out and also keep an eye on free shipping deals. On some sites if you spend over a certain amount you will get free delivery.