Christmas Sales

I have often wondered how the concept of Christmas Sales originally arose… because I am quite sure that there is nothing in the tradition of Christmas (whatever that means any more) that says that, literally, the day after Christmas one should go shopping in droves for bargains galore. For as long as I can remember, on Christmas Day itself there have been TV adverts proclaiming sales starting on Boxing Day (at, for example, Currys electricals, House of Fraser, etc) and the day after Christmas news reports of zombies queuing up outside Selfridges in the dark at stupid o’clock in the morning to be the first xmas saleones into the store in what I presume becomes some mad, hysterical dash to grab must-have sale items that one perhaps could not afford before Christmas. Perhaps the concept is that the sales are a retailer’s question of “out with the old in with the new” as the New Year dawns, in which case they should be called “New Years sales” and not “Christmas Sales” at all. Perhaps it is actually a retailers tradition of being considerate in providing an activity for family members who, thrown together for a whole 24 hours over Christmas over mountains of turkey, mince pies, and an inevitable amount of drink, can no longer stand the sight of each other and must escape to spend money that half of them probably don’t have on things that they probably don’t really need, having already spent it on an increasingly greed-filled spree of present shopping just before Christmas. Personally I think it is appalling that much money is spent on presents for Christmas that, within a day of it passing, many such gifts are then reduced by 30-50%. Of course, all of us UK readers know that one significant exception to this rule is the humble sofa, which is on offer pretty much throughout the year for half-price from DFS who just call their sales by a different name according to the time of year. Perhaps for those looking for a new television they are invaluable. Perhaps I am missing something in this sales malarkey…

This year I had expected that I would be champing at the bit along with millions of fellow shoppers on Boxing Day to grab a bargain, not least because I knew I was spending the vast majority of the Christmas all by myself and had a desire to keep myself and my melancholy mind occupied… but as it turned out, most of the Christmas sale shopping I have done has been more of a social get together with one friend or another. Boxing Day I was exceptionally lazy and was in bed for most of the day until 4.00pm… but I also knew when I first woke up that day that I felt emotionally fragile on my own, and half anticipated that had I embarked on sale shopping amongst intolerable throngs of people that I would have at some point run from one shop or another in tears of exasperation… or worse.

The first day I went sale shopping was on December 28th… though half of the outing was salesactually eating and (non-alcoholic) drinking with my BFF. After a coffee and cake, we sale-shopped in Belfast for a couple of hours, and it largely turned into a frustrating and tiresome retail expedition, certainly compared to sale shopping earlier in the year (of which I did quite a lot, with many good bargains had) because in one shop the hundreds of sale items were simply thrown with careless abandon and apathy onto the sale rails by the staff in a largely random manner such that if one unexpectedly saw an item that one liked, but in the wrong size, then one was highly unlikely to find that same article in another size on the same rail. We did go into Zara, where I managed to find a nice pair of trousers that I spied on a rail from a distance and zoomed into it… and funnily enough Kirsty also spotted it from a distance and thought to herself that if there was one item that I might like in the shop then that would be it! The sale-shoes in M&S were equally disappointing, with only a lovely pair of navy suede heeled boots that took my fancy (and Kirsty’s, at a later date), but the heels were too high; again, staff-laziness seemed to be the order of the day, with a veritable mountain of shoes on the floor awaiting attention. Another thing that became increasingly apparent was that there was a good reason why a major quantity of items are in the sales, at least this year… and that is because they are bloody awful!!! Either the pattern of the clothing is frequently dreadful, or the quality of the material or manufacture is poor; I also saw items in the sales that I have seen in several previous sales, which are obviously struggling for buyers attention. So on that expedition we both left the city with not very much at all.

My most successful sale-shopping over the period was in Dublin… which in fact was the first specific sale-shop for (ladies) clothes in Dublin for me. On 30th December I went into M&S in the city centre, during my monthly trip to the bank, and found a pair of leather knee-high boots at half price. Even better was the shopping expedition the next day… for a couple of reasons… the main one actually being that it was with a girl from my department who has known me for years (mostly, of course, in the apathetic presentation of a ‘Bob’ persona, which she has admitted to me recently I did not seem happy in at the time), we had agreed before Christmas to go sale shopping and so as we weren’t busy on 31st that is what we did. Our destination was Grafton Street in the centre, one of the two mainstream areas of big-name shops – firstly we went into M&S, where I saw a coat that I had liked the look of for months but always thought of as being too expensive… except that it was now half price (and in fact €20 cheaper than I had noticed it in passing the day before), and my companion said it really suited me. Then we headed up the street, chatting and casually browsing, going into a couple of shops before spending an amount of time in Monsoon – she tried a pair of jeans on, while I tried on a jacket and a few pairs of trousers – and we both left with successful and good purchases; as we exited she said it was really fun shopping with me, and she was having an enjoyable time.. and that made me so happy to hear, another form of acceptance from someone I have known for a number of years.

Since then I have done a little more sale shopping, mostly on my own, and have found very little to interest me. My parents were kind enough to buy me e-vouchers for Dorothy Perkins and New Look for Christmas, two retailers wear I buy the majority of my clothes, and so far they have not been used!

Perhaps this lack of sale-finds is a good thing. Perhaps it’s a reminder that I spent too much money on sale-shopping last year and should concentrate on buying clothes that I really need… especially as my figure is changing shape and size a bit, slightly larger wasit partly due to a bit of comfort eating during the highs and lows of Christmas (see previous post) but perhaps also due to hormones. Perhaps it’s a sign that I should save my money to spend it on something more significant or worthwhile, something that I really need – we shall see…

Happy shopping!

3 thoughts on “Christmas Sales

  1. I so agree with you re the ‘Christmas’ sale frenzy. To be quite frank most of the time but not necessarily always I will buy if I want or need an item irrespective of sales and anywhay sales are really no longer the big event the retailers would have us believe. 2015 really brought that one home to me as I found my confidence as Michelle and paid visits to the shops in Lisburn and Sprucefield. For example M&S appear to always have sale rails except for the four weeks up to Christmas. I also think you are quite correct when you say that frequently the sale items are usually what cannot sell. (There are exceptions and I have picked up a few true bargains). Yes the never ending DFS sale. Do you remember Texas (Morphed into Homebase) they were frequently caught out with their sales as an item was briefly on sale at stupid pounds in an obscure branch to justify lying to us about the bargain we thought we got.In fact we paid a sale price that was exactly the same as the normal one. I feel the same about DFS and horrors of horrors it does still go on. I suspect Tesco are at it frequently judging by some of the dubious half price promotions. As for Christmas and it’s true meaning. I have some semblance of Christian belief and have to say that Christmas according to the media and the retailers has not the remotest connection to the birth of Jesus. It has become a festival of greed and gluttony.

    Thoroughly enjoyed your blog.

  2. In my childhood the sales were always known as the “January sales” and I still refer to them that way although they all start on boxing day now. I think their original purpose was a combination of clearing unsold Christmas stock and getting the winter lines off the shelves to make room for imminent spring ranges. Of course it has morphed into something else entirely now. But I did ok with you on the 28th, I was very happy with my new skirt and polo neck. And the meal was fab.
    Anyway, I do agree about the need to rein ourselves in on clothes spending. Buy what we need, not just what we want. I’m certainly thinking that way.

  3. As Kirsty says, I can just about remember when the January sales were considered to be something special, and that if you went early enough there was the chance of a real bargain – or maybe it’s just my rose-tinted spectacles. Nowadays stock turns over so quickly it feels like many shops have a permanent sale on of one kind or another, or that the better bargains are to be had at ‘outlet’ stores, as long as you’re prepared to buy out of season.
    Great that your parents bought you gender-appropriate vouchers… little signs of acceptance like that must be worth a lot.

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