If there’s one thing to love about the post-Christmas period every year, it’s the prospect of hitting the shops and hunting down some serious bargains in the January sales. Although many stores now begin their discounting in December, it’s still a prime period for retail therapy and a great chance to get your hands on something you want for a fraction of the usual price.
But how can you make the most of your time and money, particularly if you’re heading to London to see the sales? Here are our top tips on surviving them and coming home with exactly what you want.
1. Plan in advance
Any city is a big place, but London is huge, so it’s no good just heading there with a vague idea of wandering around until you see something. All you’ll do is waste energy and shoe leather. Similarly, going without a plan of what you want to buy is a no-no, as that’s when you’ll end up returning with things that aren’t really much use.
Instead, decide exactly which area you want to cover and pinpoint particular shops, then take a look at your wardrobe and see what you’re short of as opposed to what you’ve got lots of. Try to buy things that aren’t too high-fashion and that can be layered for multiple seasons, as they’ll last longer and get worn more.
There’s now a 5p charge on carrier bags, so remember to take your own bag for life or even a compact rucksack to carry all those purchases. Some stores now give you paper bags, but they’re not particularly durable and you don’t want the problem of your bag splitting on the street (particularly if it’s raining) and throwing your purchases all over the floor.
3. Dress appropriately
It’s surprising how many people you see wearing heels to the shops, but it’s a good bet that they rue the decision come the evening. For mission-oriented sales shopping, you want comfy, supportive flats or even trainers to cushion your back and heels against those hard floors. In terms of clothing, you’ll need layers that are easy to remove for trying things on and when you enter a department store that’s hotter than Barbados in August. If you need a coat for heading home, make it a light one and again, consider a backpack to stow it away in until you enter the freezing streets again.
4. Have a budget
When faced with tags that say 50 or 70 per cent off, it’s easy to go mad and totally splurge. However, remember and recite that old mantra: it’s not a bargain if you don’t really need it. Will the item you’re looking at truly get worn or used? If yes, then consider spending – but also think about starting a list of what you saw and where, and then going through at the end of the trip and deciding on what you want to go ahead and buy. You can decide on how much you’ve got available to spend and then match the list against it to avoid regrets later.
5. Look for investment pieces
There will be lots of this year’s top trends on sale, but what you should really look for in the January sales are items that are classics and will last you for years. Good examples are leather jackets, high-quality handbags and knee-length boots, which should serve you season after season without appearing dated.
6. Seek out somewhere to rest
If you’re really on a shopping mission and want to hit the shops early, you might want to consider booking a stay at somewhere like the Grand Royale London Hyde Park Hotel. It’s close to London’s main shopping areas and luxurious enough to leave you well-rested before or after your retail experience.