A Bargain is not a Bargain – if it wasn’t what you Bargained for

Wednesday 28th December

What is this craziness that seems to infect a certain part of mankind at the thought, the mere mention of a sale?

I have been watching the news and reading the ‘i’ (the only paper left for some obscure reason) and am never less than amazed at peoples’ gullibility.  Or are they in their milling, queuing, pushing frenzy the ordinary ones, and I, cool Catherine, sublime in my observing of this throbbing gasping melee, the unusual, the odd one out, the woman with no desire for a bargain?  It isn’t that I enjoy paying ‘Top Dollar’ for everything I buy, or that I object to buying marked down goods; I often pick up something in the ‘reduced’ section, but it has to be the right thing.  I invariably know what I am looking for when I go shopping and that is what I invariably end up buying, discounted or full price – sounds obvious doesn’t it, but you would be amazed how many girlfriends I have been out with who wander around the stores with glazed eyes and an air of bewilderment, and when I ask what they are looking for, they say “I am not sure, but I will know it when I see it”, or some such nonsense.  And it isn’t as if they are referring to a particular style of coat, or a pair of trousers they haven’t spotted yet, their vagueness encompasses the whole gamut of female attire – they simply have no clue what they came out for in the first place, is it a skirt, or a blouse, or jodhpurs even, maybe a poncho  my dear, you know that they come back into fashion at least once every twenty years.

And I am sure that these are the very same people who flock to the sales at this time of year, I say this time of year, but actually it used to be January, then slowly December was encroached upon and some stores have even started their annual post-Christmas sale before the twenty-fifth itself. And they even started queuing on Christmas day, which whether you are religious or not, it is surely sacrilegious to go out on the one guaranteed non-shopping day of the year and start queuing for a sale that will not start for twelve or so hours.  And one cannot blame the stores; anything to get those tills ringing I suppose.  I read once that in Retailing it is throughput of stock and continuing cash-flow through the checkout that are the keys to success, not maintaining ones margins, once breakeven point has been reached it is all about volume of sales.  In any case I am certain that though there must be a few lost leaders to entice people in to the sale, the majority of goods are not really that discounted at all, the selling price has been so inflated pre-Christmas that a 25% reduction will simply bring the item down to the price you should have paid all along.  But for me, it isn’t even the price of the thing, bargain or no bargain, but simply why buy something you wouldn’t have bought had it not been for the crossed out amount in small numerals and the big amount below, oh, and the six feet tall letters ’S A L E’ across the entire window of the shop.

A bargain is only a bargain if you were particularly in need of, or had been planning to buy anyway, the object you see in the Sale.  If it just happens to be something that catches your eye, and the words ‘but it’s only £…….. .99’ flash across your eyes and blanket out all reason, you will undoubtedly get home and unwrap something you hadn’t really bargained for.