Summer sales season is here with bargains galore in the offing. But how easy is it to shop them? Stephanie Smith hits the stores to find out, plus hot picks.
In recent days, I have been mostly sales shopping, along with plenty of other wild-eyed, frenzied folk in search of a bargain (or several).
I felt that I owed it to readers to test-run both online and in-store sales shopping with some of our major fashion retailers, and report my experiences. Yes, I was prepared to be that someone. It helped that I adore sales shopping. It’s my favourite way to shop, and not just because of the savings. I actually enjoy having limited selections on offer. It can make it much easier and quicker to scan, evaluate and rule in or out . This applies both to in-store and online browsing... depending, that is, on the store and the website.
Sales allow me to try pieces in styles and colours I might usually dismiss. Because I am not paying full price, I am far more likely to break out of my style rut and give it a go.
This year’s foray began for me online with a Marks & Spencer Sparks card offer, because I’d spent enough (you don’t say) to be granted a buy-before-the-crowds preview. The M&S website makes it easy to sales shop online, simple to navigate, with search options that throw up exactly what you’re looking for. So it was that I snapped up a belted black shirt dress, reduced from £35 to £20.50. It’s arrived (collected in-store), is good quality, easy to dress up and down with flats and heels, and also to wear as a long jacket, open. It is a new hard-working, multi-tasking wardrobe staple, and I am content.
It’s not all been quite so easy. Last week I also ordered in the Very.co.uk sale a dress which found its way to Aberdeen, then back to the depot in Oldham, was re-ordered on advice from customer service (who left us on hold for 25 minutes before we gave up) and finally turned up outside the back door, unnoticed for hours while we waited for a knock at the front door. Mistakes happen, but even so, I was surprised. We’ve bought from Very before (usually electricals) and have always been impressed by the service.
On Saturday and Sunday, I went to three branches of Next in search of the petite version of a dress I had already bought, which was a little long. These sales were of the free-for-all jumble variety with clothes discarded and flung over any old rail as staff battled to keep on top of the situation. The situation was not helped by the fact that changing rooms in all three stores were closed, presumably a strategic decision, although no explanation was given, just barriers. People were trying on clothes in the aisles, hogging mirrors and leaving behind make-up stains in cramped conditions. It wasn’t enjoyable, but I did find another lovely black dress (not the one I was after), and a grey one I will have to take back (within 15 days), plus some garden accessories, so I came away quite satisfied. I later tried to find the original dress online. The website seems to offer just one image for each item in the sale, and on my laptop only 24 products a page (I like to view all or at least 90, for speed’s sake), so I soon gave up.
In search of shoes, I went to Debenhams, which I have previously found great success with in the sales. I was not disappointed. It has a great range of brands, including Faith, Dune, Ravel, Carvela and KG Kurt Geiger, and excellent bargains. Both in-store and online, it’s easy and quick to find what you’re after.
And finally, the John Lewis website, which is excellent, bringing up clear categories to start browsing, with each product well presented with several clear images and a “view larger” option so you can take a good look at the fabric and detailing. All the size availability and product information is immediately to hand, it looks clean, modern and attractive, and you can arrange delivery to home, store or to Waitrose. Definitely my favourite sales site. And I’ve got my eye on those Kin shoes.
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