Is it just me or have the last few months been endless January Sales? I can’t say I’m complaining.
Let’s be clear: I used to detest January sales. Rail upon rail teaming with clothes that had been dragged out from the back and hadn’t seen the storefront in years; my usual staple store Zara had its tables turned into fabric-mountain free-for-all’s; and everywhere the customer service strategy appeared to have gone out the window…I simply couldn’t handle it.
It seems I wasn’t the only one, either. Each year we hear discouraging reports of decreased footfall on the high street, and each year the sales events stretch out longer and longer in an effort to counteract this. So is it same old, same old..?
Well, maybe not. Lately, I’ve noticed a distinct shift in retail strategy regarding the big yearly sales – in some stores. Increasingly, retailers seem to be cottoning on to the ‘experience’ element of shopping that fashion consumers miss during sales events – with layouts, visible stock levels and customer service gradually improving in an effort to tempt us out into the cold weather. If you know where to go, you can now get a good deal and skip the sales stress! That said, it’s no good buying anything and everything just because the shop looked pretty and the retail assistant smiled at you. I mean we’ve all done it, right? You bought that ‘absolute bargain’ only to find that a month later it’s completely out of fashion or worse – it was never your style in the first place. But this year I think I’ve got it sussed, so read on for some savvy January sales tips!
Here’s my tips on what to buy and what to avoid in the January Sales:
- Buy style, not fashion. Coco Chanel once said ‘fashion is made to become unfashionable’. In other words, do not buy the latest Balenciaga trainers or Balmain slogan t-shirt that everyone is wearing now – trust me, they won’t be this time next year. And if they are? Well, you’ll definitely look better still if you’re not!
- Go back to basics. Interestingly, a lot of stores discount classic garments in January – usually because of low stock, minute alterations to next season’s version, or a change of supplier or manufacturer. Think black leather pumps, tailoring, cashmere and white shirts for starters. Look for high-end high-street versions from Reiss for a good deal and matching service, or Massimo Dutti for a slightly lower price point.
- Plain and simple. Prints are more likely to be recognised and become outdated, so opt for plain colour or neutral shades for longevity.
- Ask yourself ‘would I buy this full price?’ Not a hard and fast rule, because perhaps it was out of your budget then and it isn’t now, but if you’re really not sure then it’s worth a thought before splurging. Also: ‘Can I think of at least one outfit to wear it with?’ If yes, go ahead. If no, leave it for someone else’s haul.
- Beware ‘final sale’ warnings online. Final sale is a term more commonly adopted by US retailers that translates as ‘no returns, no refunds’ so be absolutely sure that you want before you buy in these cases.
My favourite stores for January sales this year:
Possibly my all-time favourite sale store. Often with 60 and 70% off, but with carefully curated rails, excellent customer service and very chic packaging. The Kooples is your place to go for edgy but wearable tailoring, floaty chiffon dresses and all-black staples – such as leather skirts, jackets, and cute lace camisoles. They have just entered their final price drop so get in there now for the best deal you’re going to find until summer.
Yes, really! No longer a graveyard for last year’s past-season and defunct labels, TK Maxx (or TJ Maxx if you’re outside the UK) has gained some fashion prowess in recent years. Partly due to strategic investment in its supply chain systems, the retailer now also stocks current season, designer and high street brands alongside independent labels and – if you live near one of the larger flagship stores – high fashion labels including Alexander McQueen, Valentino and Mulberry. TK Maxx often has the buying power to purchase entire units of sale stock and discount it more cheaply than the brand could in their own store – one example this year being Dune. I’ve rescued so many pieces from TK Maxx’s rails that I could start a ‘spotted at TK Maxx blog’ if I wanted: Dolce and Gabbana heels, an Herve Leger bandage dress, Dianne Von Furstenburg jacket, Michael Kors, Oscar de la Renta…so if you’ve not ventured in in a while, the sale might be the perfect time to try your luck!
A recent change in ownership means that House of Fraser is currently undergoing a bit of a brand shake-up – with, in my opinion, their best sale yet as a result. In-house brand ‘Linea’ appears to have extremely large discounts and low stock levels at the moment; the future of the label remains to be seen but it’s worth a look at their bedding, homeware and conservative but cute clothing range while you still can. If you live near the Glasgow flagship store (my favourite shop in the entire world, by the way) you can also find decent discounts on high end brands including Chloe, Gucci, Jimmy Choo and Anya Hindmarch. Remember to use your Reward Card for the occasional additional discount too.
Cruise’s grotto of premium labels enjoys a luxurious markdown at this time of year. We’re talking HALF PRICE Louboutins (yes, I treated myself to another pair), LESS THAN HALF PRICE sunglasses (and again), and delightful discounts on clothing (ditto). There are 10 Cruise stores in the UK, together with an online store and separate outlet. Despite being owned by Sports Direct (yes, he’s got them aswell) some stores still enjoy a degree of independence regarding their final pricing strategy – so if possible I’d recommend checking deals in store before you go online.
Others to look out for:
Lookfantastic. You can pretty much forget sales on high-end beauty products in department stores. However, you will find discounts on gift sets, and there’s often a better selection available on dedicated beauty websites. Look for sets that include full-sized products you use all the time, and score the added bonus of miniatures in the box with them. Also, look out for my prize draw soon for the chance to win a £25 Lookfantastic voucher!
Jewellers. For some peculiar reason, jewellers tend to slash the price of diamond jewellery just before or after Christmas. Two years ago, I treated myself to a pair of .5 Carat diamond studs that were exactly half price at £499. I wear them almost every day. This year, they returned to the winter sale at £799. Last I checked, diamonds don’t tend to decrease in value, and they definitely don’t go out of season! So, if you’ve been thinking of treating yourself to a little sparkle, it’s a no-brainer this month!
Victoria’s Secret. Since the Glasgow store opened in autumn I have spent an offensive amount of time (and money) in there. Lingerie and PJ bargains aside, look out for their limited but very cute clothing range – I picked up a beautiful cream corseted loungewear top for £25!
There’s not long left before prices start creeping up again, so why not have a browse and let me know in the comments what your favourite stores are during the January sales – and of course what you find!