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The Phenomena of “The Sale” August 1, 2009

Posted by Lauren Cooke in Fashion, Life, Chatter & Politics.
Tags: , , ,

As I rushed around town today, rifling through sales and hunting out bargains, I got to thinking about the amazing phenomena that is “The Sale”. As a bit of a bargain whore, most of my clothes are bought reduced and on discount, and I have fallen witness to some terrible behaviour and fascinating actions. From girls fighting girls, to on the floor scrabbling – even through to theft and debauchery, I have witnessed all the nasty behaviour that dominates the seasonal sales. The most common ailments induced by this bargainous world? Read on to find out!

shoping exhaustion

(Image from here)

1. Delusion

How many times have you caught yourself in a sale, surveying the swathes of fabrics and textures? How many times have you queued for the changing room, waiting with armfuls of beautiful dresses and trousers and skirts? And how many times have the vast majority of these items been the wrong size? Every time I do a thorough sale shop I end up attempting to squeeze myself into tiny scraps of material or, equally, huge tents that drown my frame. Also, judging by the fellow shoppers in the changing rooms, I am definitely not the only one who deludes themselves when the bargains are calling out to be got!

2. Aggression

Most passionate shoppers need to take a chill pill when presented with rack upon rack of shiny new clothes, all marked down by massive percentages. For most people, a little excited jumping up and down on the spot should fix this problem – but for some, not so! I have seen girls fighting over the last dress for sale at £5 down from £100. I have seen people scrabbling on the floor, grabbing at items from under the feet of the opposition. I have even, believe it or not, seen someone steel a blouse from where it was hangingoff the bag of a girl queuing for the changing room! Agression,it seems, is far to run-of-the-mill at a sale!

3. Illogicalilty

Perhaps not the most surprising or revolutionary observation on my little list, illogicality is often somewhat of a sport for us girls. Apologies if you are one of the exceptions, but most girls I know are experts at completely illogical (but often thoroughly enjoyable) acts! The effect, predictably, is doubled in the presence of mark-downs. I am willing to bet that the majority of sale-savvy shoppers have found themselves justifying otherwise completely unlikely purchases. “What do you mean it is yellow, too big, and clashing with my hair? It has been reduced by £50!!”. Taste, essentially, seems to lose all meaning in the presence of such undeniable “bargains”!

4. Ferality

Are you liking my ability to turn any word into something-ality? That aside, the fourth and final trait I have observed in over-enthusiastic sale shoppers in the ability to turn totally (and utterly) feral. Not unrelated to aggression levels, this quality does see a certain lack of self-respect and loss of dignityin all who partake in it. We all do it a little bit – rummage uncouthly through the piles, claw through the shelves, drag your way through the rails. You will ignore items that slide unceremoniously off their hangers, you will stuff things back on the shelf upside down and inside out. You may even try on the items over the top of your damp coat and stuff it back on top o the pile. Unfortunately, this method means you will probably be the one who does actually find the bargains. It is a hard world!

Recognise any of these traits? I’m sure you have exhibited some of them yourselves, witnessed others, and even wished you had the utter balls to really go all-out. Essentially (and most would agree with me), women are not the most attractive race when the sales rear their ugly but utterly desirable heads! Good luck!


1. jo - August 1, 2009

Love it, have you read Zola’s ‘The Ladies Paradise’ or Rachel Bowlby’s work? I wrote my last coursework essay on shopping and included a section on the crazy female sale shopper 🙂

2. jessica - August 2, 2009

great article!
while i am not ashamed of my actions as a sale shopper, i am incredibly guilty of a few of these things, including stuffing myself into itsy things like some sort of sausage into a casing simply because it’s on sale.

3. Caroline - August 3, 2009

Having worked the Next sale three summers and Christmases running (for my sins) I have seen all of this behaviour and worse. My biggest pet peeve was the women who would use their small children to get what they wanted – telling them to crawl under racks to see what’s lurking, using buggies to ram people (and I mean RAM – we had to have plasters available for more cut ankles than any other injury!) out of the way, encouraging their children to steal from other shoppers’ baskets… horrendous.

Amongst the staff, injury was also a problem. Aside from getting heckled for queue jumping on arrival (at 5.30am on boxing day – people had been queueing since 3am!), the customers were notoriuos for lurking by the stock room door and attacking as you came out with replenishment stock. I have had my fingers bent into shapes they really should bend into, not to mention hangers ripped through the fleshy bit between my thumb and forefinger (very painful, I do NOT recommend).

I now refuse to enter the Next sale. Ever.

I’m even shaking a bit just recalling the memories!

4. mysterycreature1 - August 4, 2009

What great replies!

Jo – I haven’t read those, I really should by the sounds of it. I shal add them to my reading list!

Jessica – don’t worry, by the sounds of it all girls have done it a little!

Cie – I know, the Next sale are notorious for the levels of obession they bring out in their shoppers. It sounds like it was horrible, poor you!

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i love this article. you hit the nail squarely on the head! thanks for your candor.

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