IRL shopping, we miss you. Never again will I moan about the queues in the Topshop changing rooms or the fact that Zara has a separate returns desk on the other side of the store. One of the best things about in-real-life shopping is the January sales; that mad dash to your local high street at the crack of dawn to snap up some absolute steals.
But with the world in disarray and everything up in the air, we can’t help but imagine we’ll be doing most of our New Year’s sale shopping from the comfort of our own home (preferably with a box of leftover Quality Street in hand).
With social distancing measures likely still in place, the queues for our local John Lewis are going to rival those of the Garden Centre post lockdown 1. No thanks.
That’s why we’ve enlisted the expert advice of stylist Susie Hasler, who runs Styled By Susie, to share exactly how to make the most of the bargains on offer in 2021, without trying anything on. Susie shares 8 simple hacks for armchair shopping the January sales – and coming away (metaphorically) with some incredible finds.
1. Don’t be tempted to buy something just because it’s cheap: These items haven’t sold for a reason
Usually when something is great, it sells out quickly and is rarely seen again or repeated, unless it’s early in the season. So Susie says the clothes in the sales are there for a reason and we shouldn’t be tempted to irrationally purchase a neon kilt simply because it costs less than a fiver, “they are what I call the “dregs” or the items that haven’t worked for a reason,” she says.
“It could be a bad design that means it just hasn’t worked on anyone, or it may be an unflattering fit or simply unpopular. For example, there was a pleated skirt that I tried on many clients of different sizes and each skirt (the same item) was badly designed as the zip was impossible to do up over the really thick seam. It didn’t work for any of them and it ended up going into the sale. This is why it’s also good not to take it personally when an item doesn’t fit, as it has probably been the same on many women before you.”
2. Pre-shop prep: Have a list in mind so you don’t fall down the rabbit hole of online shopping
Susie maintains that looking for a bargain isn’t a good enough reason to buy an item (devoed), so we should all have a rough idea in our mind of what we actually need and have a look in our wardrobe to identify any gaps that may need filling.
“You may need some new jumpers to spruce up the bobbled ones that are on their last legs, or maybe your winter boots need replacing with a pair that you couldn’t afford full price,” she said.
“The satisfaction you will feel will be longer lasting than the fleeting thrill of just finding a bargain.”
3. Check the size calculators: Every store has their own guide, but ultimately you decide how you want that item to fit you
There’s nothing worse than ordering a dress that looks banging on the ASOS model, then trying it on and simultaneously resembling a sack of potatoes.
“Check the sizes and see where you need to size up or down. The size calculators are usually very accurate so it’s worth filling in your details to avoid disappointment,” advises Susie. “This goes for the size of an item as well as length. If you love a dress online but it looks too short, it may work well on your 5ft 4ins frame, if the model featured is 5ft 8.”
4. Don’t dismiss the live chats
Many of us dismiss the ‘can I help you’ live chat bots that pop up on websites – and often for good reason. “They’re usually considered more of an annoyance that a help,” notes Susie. “However, it may well be worth engaging with them if you’re buying a few items from a site. Often these techy assistants will offer extra discount codes if you interact with them – making it well worth spending a few minutes.”
5. Check out the outlet sections
You probably haven’t noticed before but many retailers have an outlet section on their websites, which acts much like an outlet store, with a continuous sale section throughout the year. “The discounts in the outlet sections are often much more than their regular sale sections. You can be lucky to get 80% off some items with retailers such as ASOS.com,” reveals Susie.
6. Don’t feel disheartened if your sought-after item goes out of stock
We know the feeling only too well, but if you keep an eye out, many items come back into the sale a few weeks after they’ve shown as out of stock. The reason being, that items are returned. As Susie advises: “If you can hold on for a few weeks, set up a “notify me when it comes back in stock” option, you can bag the item for an even bigger discount than you would have done at the start of the sale!”
7. Sign up to newsletters / join as a member
“Create a new email address that is solely for this purpose. It means that your regular email account won’t be bombarded,” says Susie. “However, signing up to newsletters can mean early bird discounts, special discount codes and other customer reward schemes such as collecting points (H&M Membership Club for example). Next also offers a VIP membership where you can book sale shopping slots, earlier than non-members.”
8. Clear your cookies
If you have been looking at a pair of boots for a few months, it’s likely that those clever website cookies have been taking note. If they know that you have been looking at the same item, they may offer you a higher sale price, knowing you would be more likely to purchase it, reveals Susie. Clearing your cookies before browsing, ensures you get a fair price, as if you were shopping and browsing for the first time. Sneaky huh?