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How To Nail The Sales

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Photographed by David Cortes
We're all entranced by those four little letters 'S A L E'. Whether it's online or in-store, no one can resist a discount, even if it's often on something we definitely don't need or in fact really want at all. This year Britain's biggest ever 'Boxing Day Sales' actually began on Wednesday 24th as retailers frantically tried to offload winter wear that hadn't sold due to the warmest December in 70 years.

Department stores including John Lewis, Debenhams, Next and M&S are now offering up to 50% online and experts have said the number of discounted items available could be the greatest in three decades due to a combination of mild weather and a general public that is now so used to slashed prices. Retail expert Richard Hyman noted that by Christmas Eve, 72% of the high street was already on sale, telling the Evening Standard that he had “never seen anything remotely like it” in over 30 years.

Amazon kicked off its Boxing Day deals at 4pm on Christmas Day which runs until December 31. Harrods predicts more than 1 million customers to pass through its doors during the month sale period with promotions of up to to 50% off women's fashion and 25% off furniture and home accessories. Harvey Nichols is slashing 50% off all fashion and shoes, with 40% off jewellery and handbags while online fashion retailer Net-a-porter's sale began yesterday with many items available for half price.

And London's luxury shopping mecca Dover Street Market's sale begins today at 11am. So with so much choice and so many bargains, how do you discern what to get and what to avoid? Don't fall into a trap; here are five crucial tips to bear in mind when tackling those dangerous sales.

1. Write a list
Making a list that you can refer to as you hit the shops will help keep you focused on the task at hand. Don't get sidetracked by an all-singing, all-dancing power-tool you don't need. Concentrate on staples that need replacing as well as quality products that will last and get frequent use.

2. Buy timeless pieces...
Go for classic and functional items that your wardrobe is craving. Ensure they are in good condition and can go with lots of different looks. "Sale time at Christmas is always such a busy time for us," Joanna Nicola, Owner of Oxygen Boutique explains. "Our seasons have changed so much over the past few years. The Christmas sales are a great time to find your perfect coat and the best jumpers as it's been a warm winter and is only just getting cold."
3. ...but it's also an opportunity to buy pieces that you know you might only wear once
"It’s a perfect time to get your last minute New Year's Eve dress half price," Nicola continues. "Try something from Mason like a kimono or an open back dress. Many of our items we stock are not seasonal so it is also a great time to stock up on classic styles that you can keep in your wardrobe such as little black dresses and trainers."

4. Look out for show-stopping items that you wouldn't dare to buy full price
"Always, always go straight to the clothes," Ailsa Miller, Tatler's Fashion Associate warns. "Novices will head for the bags and shoes, or at the very least they'll be looking for a "statement coat," smugly thinking it'll see them through a few winters. BUT if you're really smart you'll start rifling through the skirts or the jazzier pairs of jeans. Anyone can get a bag on eBay or at a sample sale, but that sequin printed Dries van Noten skirt that's half off? All yours, and no one need know it was ever found in a sale..."

5. Head online first
"I tend to look online first, to narrow down what it is I'm looking for and avoid the inevitable urge to spend every last penny of the Christmas fund, enabling me to make a beeline for the pieces I'm really interested in," Tena Strok, founder of luxury fashion and lifestyle store Celestine Eleven wisely explains. "Always shop in the flesh. Online returns protocols are hard to navigate at the best of times, without all the adrenaline of impulse sale buys. If you're investing in designer pieces, shop trans-seasonally - always."
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