Alice-Azania Jarvis: 'About 80% of my sales purchases I've regretted'

So, it's sale time again. This time it's the summer sale – I think. Or is it the mid-season sale? Or the spring sale? Or the post-Father's Day World Cup sale? In all honestly, I'm not sure. One thing I do know, though, is this: I won't be buying anything.

Oh, ok. Perhaps I'll pick up the odd item – whatever I would regularly buy in the course of a week – but certainly nothing more than usual. The reason for my (uncharacteristic) display of restraint? Experience. I've never, ever, saved money in the sales. Yes, I've found cheap bits and bobs for my wardrobe or my flat – but none of those things have translated into a significant act of economy. For one thing, had I not been spurred into shopping by the prospect of a discount, I probably wouldn't have been buying in the first place. Which is to say I wouldn't have spent the money in the first place. For another, around 80 per cent of my sales purchases have been things I've regretted. In fact, off the top of my head I can think of a single product that has actually proved worthy of its reduced-but-still-substantial price tag: a black hold-all, reduced by 75 per cent, from Jaeger. I bought it three years ago and have used it as my workout bag ever since. It's incredibly useful and practical, goes with all my clothes, and has the added benefit of making me look like someone who might, actually, have a nice set of matching luggage at home (I don't, of course, but I do quite enjoy the pretence). In summation: sales don't equal savings.

At any rate – and correct me if I'm wrong on this – don't the shops seem to be in a permanent state of sale? Every time I head into one, whole swathes of free space appear to have been handed over for reduction, or clearance, or both, regardless of the season, or the weather, or the proximity of a public holiday.

All this, of course, would be rather different if my budget was slightly more flexible. Flicking through the pages of any glossy magazine makes it quite clear that designer boutiques, unlike the local branch of H&M, prefer not to offer things on the cheap. Come sale, time, though, they slash their prices by hundreds. The higher-end the retailer, it seems, the higher-end the discount. And the more moneyed the customer, the more they can save. Ironic, really, isn't it?

a.jarvis@independent.co.uk

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