The commercial Grinch? Why the sales are ruining Christmas


This Boxing Day alone Experian estimated that shoppers spent £519,000 a minute on online sales. It’s a headache-free option without the mayhem of the shops, but one which evidently hasn’t changed our love affair with the sales. Even after the excesses of Christmas consumers are grasping for more – but isn’t this just greedy?

Greedy or not, most sale items are arguably not even desirable. Dazzled by discounts, it’s easy to forget that the sales are offering unwanted leftovers of Christmas stock. To be perfectly honest, if it’s not shifted it’s probably shit.

The point is that bargains aren’t always what they seem. Sadly, classic pieces are rarely marked down because they will sell regardless of their cost. My mum’s black Mulberry bag, a case in point, didn’t go down in price after this Christmas.

While it may be worth splashing out on an investment piece in the sale if you can find one, it’s hard to justify the need for a bright red Alexa which is still teetering dangerously close to the £1,000 mark. Don’t be fooled into thinking you’ve got a bargain; it’s just that no one else was silly enough to be taken in.

Screen Shot 2014-12-27 at 15.14.09


Beautiful? Yes
Essential? No

There’s also a (#)FOMO aspect to the sales – “if I don’t get this now I’ll never have the chance again”. True, you might never be able to buy that exact pair of shoes again, but there will be others. Quick fixes aren’t always the solution, and sale shopping, like a microwave meal, usually leads to disappointment in the long-term.

Leaving your purchases until after Christmas may maximize savings, but the price to pay for missing out on the ‘magic’ of Christmas is a high one. Buying in the sales is different from the careful thought that should go into Christmas shopping. Thinking “I can get this cheaper so I’ll wait” might just go against the spirit of gift-giving.

Even where shops’ sales start before Christmas (there are ‘December’ sales as well as ‘January’ sales now), what should be a time of peace and enjoyment is turned into a fest of last minute panic buying. Those who most need to exploit the cut prices are hit the worst.

True, gift cards can supply the best of both worlds: given at Christmas, spent in the sales. But while you may get more ‘stuff’ as a result, the personal thought inherent to the act of gift-giving is lost.

Christmas is a time for family and the obsession with the sales on Boxing Day only reinforces how commercialised this holiday has become. And, more to the point, why should retail staff have to compromise their family time for your commercial indulgence? No one’s going to die if they don’t get 70 per cent off some pillowcases and a cashmere cardigan.

Besides, extreme dedication is needed to get the best bargains – getting up at 6am on Boxing Day type dedication. After a Christmas day full of Bucks Fizz and Baileys, it’s an unattractive prospect.

That said, as a student on a tight budget, I’m not entirely above the sales. I’ve left it to chance to get my New Year’s Eve dress in the hope that the one I want will go down in price, mainly because I can’t really justify much more spending after blowing all my savings in Michaelmas (one too many Jägerbombs at Bridge?).

The sad reality is that the sales have pervaded the Christmas spirit and turned us into greedy, bargain-hunting vultures. Christmas is no longer about giving and receiving; it’s about getting as much as possible for our money. Economical? Yes, but also quite egotistical.

Images: Fanpop, Mulberry


Sign up for the newsletter!

Want to contribute? Join our contributors’ group here or email us – click here for contact details