How to sales shop like a pro

Do your eyes light up at the sight of big red sales signs adorning the windows and websites of retailers? We show you how to get the edge in the battle to bag a bargain.

Sales shopping is a bit like training for the Olympics. To get ahead of the rest you have to put in the prep work, have tunnel vision and be mentally tough to avoid being tempted by items you don’t actually need.

Be like a sales pro – have a plan and stick to it.

Shopping trolley

Get to know what a good deal is

If you want to find the best bargains for you and your family, you need to familiarise yourself with retail prices so you know a genuinely good deal when you see one. Just because something says 50% off, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s cheaper than a non-discounted price you’ll find elsewhere. So before you start shopping, spend some time swotting up on the usual retail prices for the items you’re looking for.

Be primed and ready for action

Seasoned sales shoppers will know exactly what time a store opens its doors for the first day of a sale, or when its online sale kicks off.

 “The early bird catches the worm” is definitely true of the sales. You might have to get out of bed early, but if you’re serious about shopping, you have to make the effort to beat the queues or get online before the buy buys get snapped up.

Be season savvy

Some of the best deals depend on what time of year it is. Early autumn is often a good time to buy swimwear and garden furniture as the main summer season is over so stores will have a clearance sale, while the January sales are great for stocking up for next Christmas – if you’re willing to plan that far ahead.

Avoid impulse buying

It’s easy to be taken in by those eye-catching 70% off signs and 2-for-1 deals, but sales pros have tunnel vision and don’t get distracted by things they don’t really need. Make a list of essentials, such as new school shoes for the kids, set a budget and stick to it.

 If you pick up an item of clothing or toy you’re not convinced about, ask yourself whether you really need it, or whether you’re just wasting your hard-earned cash. Post-sales shopping guilt isn’t a nice feeling when money’s tight.

Make the most of apps and social media

To save yourself time scouring for sales online, there are lots of apps out there that can help you identify genuine bargains, as well as online comparison sites.

 Many retailers will also send sales alerts and special offers to customers on their mailing lists. It’s also worth following your favourite retailers on social media as many brands now throw private flash sales to reward their loyal followers.

 Check the returns policy

If you buy an item in the sale, make sure you understand your rights. You’ll still be able to return a faulty item, but it’s up to the retailer whether it accepts returns on non-faulty items bought instore.

 If you buy items in an online sale, you can usually return them within 14 days to get your money back. Check carefully each retailer’s policy for returning sale goods.