70% off! But is it really? Sneaky sales tactics

With the shopping mecca Westfield right around the corner from MoneySaving Towers, it sometimes takes my full will power to resist the lure of the shops. But with midseason sales in full swing (see our High St Sales Diary) I thought I’d see if I could snaffle some bargains.

First port of call French Connection. Now I’m aware, as a seasoned MoneySaver I should know better but when I clocked the massive 70% off signs my eyes lit up. The pretty floral number would surely be within my budget with reductions like that.

However on closer inspection it was (a slightly eye watering) £52, reduced from £65. Back on the rail…It was then I noticed the teeny weeny microscopic ‘UP TO‘ that even an RAF pilot would have difficulty reading. Sneaky.

Next I ducked into Mango which faired better. It had opted for ‘Everything £9.99’ signs across the sale area, great except for the big bunches of items more expensive then that.

So what are retailers actually allowed to say?

  • If using general notices saying ‘half price sale’ or similar the discount must apply to at least 10% of the range of products on offer at the start of the sale.
  • When a price has been reduced it should have been offered at the higher price for at least 28 days in the previous 6 months in the same outlet.
  • Prices shown in advertisements or windows should not be lower than the actual price at the point of sale or checkout. (See the full Berr guidelines).

So it seems retailers, while walking a fine line, can get away with this.

Some sale shopping tips

A couple of tips to boost your sale shopping:

  • Leave it to the last minute. If you’re all about bagging bargains, wait until the very end of the sale. This is when the greatest reductions are made because shops are desperate to shift old stock to replace with fresh, full priced ranges.
  • Haggle, haggle, haggle. The chances are if it’s been in the sale for a while or it’s the last of its kind, shops will be keen to get rid of it. With a bit of charm and a cheeky smile you may just be able to barter down the price.
  • Get further reductions even after you’ve bought it. The newly re-launched Egg Money card offers a price protection promise. Cardholders can claim a refund if they buy an item for over £50, then find it cheaper within 30 days, within a 30-mile radius. They’ll get the difference between the two prices, though online purchases are excluded. More info on Egg Money.