The January Sales

They don’t even start in January anymore. They start from 6am on Boxing Day, depending on the shop. I’ve never quite been sure about whether or not they’re worth bothering with. I’m skeptical as to whether or not they exist, or it’s just a massive ploy to trick people into buying things they don’t really want. Is anything really any cheaper?

I remember buying a video recorder in the January sales, years and years ago. It was £200 before Christmas, so I waited til Boxing Day to see if it would be reduced. On Boxing Day, I walked into an electrical store and bought it for…exactly the same price it was in December. Maybe there were others discounted, but I had already chosen which one I wanted, so that wasn’t any help to me.

The Next Sale, from 6am Boxing Day!

(Picture: © Danial Maier (


Just look at those queues. On two floors. It’s only clothes for goodness sake.

A friend of mine bought a TV for ~£300 in the sales a few years ago, which was apparently a bargain, but I’m so distrusting of stores, I’d wonder things about it like:

  • Why is it reduced? What’s wrong with it?
  • Is it really reduced, or has it always been this price, and they’ve just stuck a “Sale” sticker on it?
  • Was it more expensive before Christmas, but because they artificially inflated the price in November, to give a false sense of it now being cheaper (even though it’s the same price on Boxing Day, that it was in October)?

I’d almost certainly end up whipping out my iPhone, searching for reviews, ratings, etc. at which point I would probably find that the “sale” price has been available from an online company for the last 3 months, or that it’s actually been set by the manufacturer and is now available everywhere, so thus I might as well go home and do a bit more research into the product’s potential design flaws, before I (possibly) buy it online.

And if you’re going to do that, there’s very little point leaving the house in the first place, to just go and queue up.

Maybe it works if your plan is that “I need a new TV – and I don’t care about make/model/features”. If you were buying whatever was available, if it was deemed “cheap”, then maybe it works for you. But for me, even at half the price, if it’s not what I really want, maybe I shouldn’t be buying it, even if it has got a “50% off” sticker on it?

And if it’s a product I really don’t need at all, my first thought isn’t “that looks really cheap – I should buy it”. More (after my earlier bullet points), “that looks really cheap… still.. I don’t need it”. Spending a lot of time poor makes me exercise restraint (most of the time – even I have occasional crazy moments).

It doesn’t even work for me with clothes. That’s a boring product I don’t like spending money on, that might be nice to spend another 50% less on. But I have enough trouble finding clothes that fit me as it is, the chances of me finding trousers that are the right length (with a small enough waist) in the sale seems extremely unlikely.

A couple of days ago I went to buy some new trainers. I figured that Boxing Day was over, the rush would be gone. I went to a reasonably cheap clothes shop, where I took one look at the enormous snaking queues, one look at the 2-3 staff that seemed to be working, and decided I wouldn’t be buying anything. My trainers are letting in water, and they make my feet hurt when I wear them, but join the back of this enormous queue? I don’t think so. How do people put up with it? And why?

So what do you think? Are the between-Christmas-Day-and-the-time-everyone-goes-back-to-work-in-the-new-year sales a waste of time? Or are there real bargains there if unlike me, you’re prepared to elbow your way through a 20-strong queue, to reach the only couple of till shop assistants that haven’t booked the Christmas-New-Year break as holiday?

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