Friday, 30 July 2010

Shop without the drop?

For many shopaholics – myself included – summer and winter mean, on the high street at least, one thing: sales. It’s the time of year when women display an astonishing readiness to join queues at the crack of dawn; take on sweltering hot, overcrowded stores; and treat with uncharacteristic contempt those who threaten to beat them to it in seeking out their coveted item.

Yet if it’s such an unpleasant experience, why do so many of us put ourselves through it year after year? The answer is simple – if you’re lucky enough to find that heavily reduced, highly sought-after item, then all the upheaval becomes worthwhile. Sales serve as the ultimate justification to buy ordinarily expensive things, and many women would willingly put themselves through any amount of turmoil if the end result was, say, a pair of discounted Louboutins.

Chaos at the opening of the Selfridges sale.

But for some reason, this year I really couldn’t be bothered with it all. For starters, for every sales bargain I’ve had in the past, it’s almost always been counterbalanced by a major sales disappointment. Having waited weeks for a dress to go on sale, I’ll rush to a shop when their sale begins, only to discover that it hasn’t been reduced at all. Other times, such a dress might have made it into the sale, but the reduction is so minimal that my “it was in the sale, so it’s okay” excuse just won’t cut it. The final straw came last week – having finally convinced myself that a skirt with a fractional reduction could not be overlooked any longer, I caved in and bought it…only to return to the shop earlier this week to find it reduced considerably more. Life is so unfair.

And so, with this episode in mind, I was determined not to be out-witted on my next shopping trip. Certain that a particular top would be reduced again, I exercised a model amount of self-restraint and allowed it to pass me by – on this occasion at least. Returning a few days later, my intuition had indeed proved top-notch – it certainly had been blessed with a further reduction. And so, smugly grinning at my expert instinct, I rooted through the rail to find my size, only to find that someone else had beaten me to it. Sometimes, good times do not come to those who wait. And on those occasions, I want to tear all the clothes off their hangers and scream in annoyance.

Following this spate of misfortune, I resolved to start afresh, certain that a hallowed sales bargain was out there somewhere – all I needed to do was find it. I embarked on a brand new shop and was faced with rail upon rail of discounted clothes. The sea of low-price clothes seemed to be emitting positive vibes – at long last, I was certain that this was the place I would find my bargain, and alleviate my traumatic past experiences.

Yet nothing whatsoever took my fancy. There I was, nestled in a treasure trove of bargains, feeling completely uninspired. For some reason, the sight of an otherwise nice jacket squeezed on to a cramped rail and covered in bright red discount tags had put me off entirely. I left remarkably empty-handed – a sales first for me.

Shops are still marking items down in a last-ditch attempt to shift their final stock, but I’m remaining unmoved. Far more exciting is the imminent arrival of new-season collections, although I’m sure my subconscious bargain reflex will spring back into action soon and remind me that I ought not to buy that lovely sheepskin coat, since it will no doubt be reduced in the winter sale…

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