I’m not a fan of them; the pushing, the shoving, the ugly faces and the even uglier fracas.
So what is it with sales that are so tempting nowadays, that makes people flock in masses, to camp outside from the night before, to travel in to the UK from countries world wide?
I remember from starting in my retail career, the nervous moment the heavy doors to Harrods opened at 9am and seeing Chinese people (yes they were mostly Chinese 7 years ago too) running down the isles of men's wear, ripping into everything and anything.
Customers change from polite (well, most of them) & well spoken human beings to rude, impolite and downright nasty animals.
However, in saying that, 90% of the customers you see during the sale are customers you will never see again until the next sale (unless they are trying to return or exchange something which they have bought in sheer sale desperation).
|Harrods open their doors to sale|
As retailers is the biggest event of the year we are gearing up for, in all ways, in terms of available stock, extra tills and not but in noway the least security.
Sales and masses also tempt the opportunists and the organised criminals who know that the stores will be packed with too many customers and not enough vigilant staff.
You have “customers” who change the £100 ticket for a £20 ticket, because apparently £100 just is not cheap enough for a mid range designer bag. The violence during these bi-annually events is noted more and more for each year. A couple of years back i remember a man being stabbed in the menus department in Selfridges and unfortunately also this year the violence made its presence frighteningly real when i young man was stabbed i the heart outside Footlocker on Oxford Street, it turns out he was a member of the notorious street gang ABM and was using the sale as a shoplifting spree when a rival gang was out doing the same thing. Just hours later another young man was stabbed in the leg in a seemingly unrelated attack.
The stores also feed this frenzy by opening earlier and earlier, creating queues from early hours and over night camping outside in freezing conditions. I remember arriving at 7am in the morning to Selfridges first day of sale (to work! Don’t tell me you thought otherwise...) and seeing a queue from the Louis Vuitton entrance of the store and around to the main front doors, of teenage girls and Chinese people of all ages.
All the major department stores snoop on each other months in advance to find out opening times and discounts. The build up for sale is massive and it is needed.
I have memories of many a sale in Harrods where different celebrities opened it up and my most memorable one would have to be the one where Mischa Barton arrived for the summer sale in 2009; she looked gaunt, washed out and like she had spent the week partying (her dark black make up suspiciously looked like “last nights”). As this was also a time where her career was faltering, one would have expected her to try to revive it through such a press tight occasion and done Mr Al-Fayed proud. Instead she fell asleep at his table during the champagne breakfast he had laid on for her and her people. Oops.
|Mischa on the day.|
Selfridges opened earlier than Harrods this year, and was stormed by customers, ripping through its merchandise. Oxford street was a mayhem to say the least and I have staff saying that customers rushed sales associates and ripped bags and scarves out of their hands as they tried to replenish, and threatening staff asking why certain (new season) stock was not on sale.
All in all 2billion pounds was thought to have been spent on Boxing day in Oxford street.
5 billion is expected to have been spent the first day of Sale in Harrods and House of Fraser. I thought people were broke??
I have seen the sale from a retailers point of view which is cynical to say the least, as well as from a customers point of view (actually happened the other day as I had to go and get cat food from Harrods, on the first day of sale- don’t ask).
As I walked up to Harrods I casually strolled in to Harvey Nichols to see what Louboutin was doing, as you do. It was atrocious. There were shoes everywhere, on the floor, on wonky fixtures, it was mess and i could not even be bothered to walk in. Instead I happened to walk past Alexander McQueen on the way back out of the store and found a gorge black dress for work (and a forthcoming birthday party) and justified therefore spending £350 on it (previous price £700). The way I was treated by the stressed out staff was not nice and although I have been in their situation so many times I do believe a little respect would not go amiss but then again when dealing with 90% animals...
I moved on to Harrods and got my cat food from the 4th floor. Again I thought I should at least walk past the Shoe Boudoir and see what was happening.
It was a repeat of a sight for sore eyes plus there was also a manned queue where a security was operating on a one in, one out basis. I just had to see this.
I stood in the queue a relatively short period, and whilst doing so trying to figure out if the stunning woman in front of me was with her father or her lover, she did keep calling him ‘Papi’ although something did not quite add up.
My turn came up to go in, I walked over to the shelf with my size and stayed approximately 20 seconds after establishing that nothing was tempting, either price wise or look wise. I need aesthetically beautiful surroundings when i shop not jumbo sale mess.
I made my way out of Harrods as quick as I could and walked down Sloane Street, past a long queue outside Prada, and another longer one outside Gucci. Casually strolled in to Giuseppe Zanotti and bought a pair of new season shoes. Typical.
On the whole i’d rather do without than face the sheer awfulness of it all.
But if you absolutely HAVE TO do it, then please just use the following few tips to a more human experience;
- Only buy something you really love or actually need.
- Buy that bit of magic that you couldn’t otherwise afford.
- If it doesn’t fit in the shop, that wont change by the time you get it home.
- Avoid the boring classics- its better to buy them in your own good time in a solid high street store where there is no danger of being panicked in to buying- and where you know you can always bring things back.
- Keep away from anything in a bin or with “special purchase” attached to it.
- If there's something you’ve really set your heart on and you know its going to be reduced, then plan your venture like a military race. Scout out the place first and then plot the quickest way to your quarry.
- Don’t be tempted to buy something in a wild colour that you’d never wear simply cause it is 50% off.
- If you are liable to be tempted, take a good, honest friend with you- that can tell you no in weak moments.
- Before you part with your hard earned cash, check the shop’s refund policy.