If there’s one thing I hate more than sales, it has to be the Christmas sales. In the aftermath of the festive season, even the most respectable shops are reduced to looking like a Primark explosion. Keen shoppers must elbow their way through a jungle of rails and makeshift aisles, avoiding the bedraggled items scattered haphazardly across the floor, all in the hope of finding something half decent they wouldn’t mind owning.
The problem I have with sales in general is a simple one: they convince us to buy things we don’t even want. After spending the past few hours leafing through a sale rail, hopefully scanning each hanger for something in your size (and having your hopes dashed intermittently by a mislabelled hanger), you are left in a vulnerable and confused state. Unless you fit a size 4 or 24 it is unlikely you’ll find much in your size, and when you do, and have spent several minutes detangling it from surrounding items, only then are you able to see what it is. In this impressionable state, the excitement and sense of triumph at actually finding and extracting the item seem reason enough to purchase it. It may be a fluorescent boob tube or a sequined lycra onesie, but when it’s in your size and only –checking the label- five pounds! Reduced from £20! What a bargain, you think, that’s fifteen whole pounds you’re saving. We never question why it’s in the sale in the first place and why other people have rightly rejected paying full price for it in the run up to Christmas. We are blinded by the garish colours of the sale signs, our momentary wealth following Christmas and the excitement of finding that elusive bargain.
There’s something about Christmas sales that makes them even worse than regular end of season sales. It seems increasingly common that people aren’t even waiting until after the big day to shop anymore. Dubbed by a recent Daily Mail article as ‘Clickmas’, people have actually started their online sales shopping during Christmas day. The novelty paper hat has only just grazed their heads before they feel the need to leave their sprouts, relocate to the sofa and begin spending even more money shopping in the online sales. Haven’t they just been given everything they wanted from Santa? Yet for some reason, people still feel the need to order an entirely new wardrobe before the poor Queen has even finished talking about economic recovery.
At least online you are able to keep your distance from the post-apocalyptic state of the actual sales. After experiencing it once myself (and once was enough) I have a high level of respect for the hoards of people who roll themselves out of bed at the crack of dawn on Boxing Day, armed with vouchers and Christmas money, to queue outside shops and wait for them to open. If you are serious and are not afraid of semi-violent sales veterans, then this is the time to get some actual bargains. For the majority of us amateurs arriving several hours later after our leftover turkey sandwiches, there is nothing left but a few sparse rails and tumbleweed.
This year I managed to avoid town for as long as possible, but after a post-exam shopping spree back in Exeter, I was disappointed to find many shops still in this sorry, barren state well into January. With the VAT rise, maybe this year it did make sense to get some shopping in at the end of December. And if you managed to find something that you actually loved and wanted, then good on you. Perhaps my hatred of sales is unjustified. Perhaps I’m just bitter because I haven’t found anything good for years, and thanks to the law of sod, when I did, I had bought it the week before at full price.
Razz Editor and President