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Navigating the January Sales on-line.

Navigating the January Sales on-line.

The latest trend of Black Friday and Cyber Monday pre-Christmas sales is a good example of retailers stocking-up for a sale. However, being the cynic that I am, I do question if the deals are really as good as they appear. Many retailers will simply have sold the goods at an inflated price for the legally requisite period, only to massively ‘discount’ them in the sale.

Supermarket wines are a great example of this: A single facing of a wine at £10 in a corner for 6 weeks becomes a whole end-of-aisle display at £5 a bottle (50% off). Nobody questions if the wine was actually worth £10 in the first place as it’s rarely possible to find the product elsewhere. This brings me onto my next area of cynicism: Price Matching. We get offered a price that if we can find a better deal elsewhere then we’ll get double the difference back, or some other waffle. The reality is that the product will be an exclusive for the retailer and impossible to match elsewhere. Computers are a good example of this where the specification is never like-for-like between shops.

Always ask yourself, why is the item on offer in the first place? Is it old stock? Is it low specification? Is it the line that makes the retailer the best margin? I’ll openly admit that if I can find a real bargain in IT equipment then we do tend to buy a load of it simply because we’ll make a better profit. That’s called good business, however its only good business if you can afford the cash outlay, or you can sell out before you have to pay for it. Picking up a bargain in the sales on credit is never a good bargain!

So, what are you to do if you’re looking to get some new kit in the sales? Be clear what you’re looking for and write down the specification, then start searching on-line and visit as many retailers as you can find. Compare the prices and detailed spec and try to find the best compromise. We often find it difficult to find exactly what we’re looking for so have to accept a product and then modify it ourselves.

Be clear that the sale is really genuine and check that the headline price is not someone else’s normal price and, finally, delivery charges can make all the difference. The product you’re looking for may be cheap, but you’ll have to pay £9.95 delivery; whereas another on-line store sells for a higher price but with free delivery. Be a savvy shopper!

As always, if in doubt or if you need help, you know where to come!

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Added: 4th January 2019

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