You may be wondering what my qualifications are in this field and all I can tell you is that I’ve got a LOT of experience bargain shopping in Sydney. I’ve attended hundreds of sales and visited plenty of warehouses and storerooms looking for the best bargains.
I’ve managed to get some really good bargains, saved myself a lot of money and had a fantastic time shopping. I’ve shared my knowledge with my friends and in the spirit of the good shopping karma I thought I’d share some tips with you for how to get the most when bargain shopping in Sydney.
1. Check out websites that list sales
Get on the internet. There are a lot of sites that provide you with details of sales in Sydney. These websites do the hard work for you because they get the details of a number of sales in one location.
Each website is different. For example, www.squeak.com.au covers not only fashion but also electronics, travel, home, furniture and books. It’s basically like a search engine just for sales.!
Other websites rely on word of mouth because not all sales are listed online. This is where good karma comes into play. If you list a sale on a website you are letting other shopaholics know about this sale and in turn you’ll receive good karma points! Some websites like Squeak will even reward you for sharing your knowledge.
Bookmark these sale websites and check them regularly. If the website has an option to subscribe to an RSS feed and then include this to your RSS reader – you’ll get notified as soon as the website gets updated.
2. Sign up to mailing lists
There’s always two ways to be informed of sales, either you can find the information or you can be told.
While you will get a lot of spam, signing up to mailing lists of your favourite brands will ensure that you are the first to know about sales and special offers available to loyal customers.
To avoid getting the spam in your normal inbox, set up a special shopping email account and use that to sign up for mailing lists. If you do this, remember to check this account often!
3. Know what you are looking for or be flexible
Unless you know what you are looking for you’ll be inundated with information about sales that are happening around you. You’ve either got to be flexible about what you want and enjoy shopping for random items or be specific and look for particular brands or items.
If you know what you are looking for you can tailor your search and concentrate your time at specific locations or stores. If you aren’t sure then it might be best to hit places which have the most number of bargain stores. For example, DFO in Homebush, Birkenhead Point in Drummoyne or Brand Depot in Parramatta are good places to start.
4. Expect the sales
Most brands have sales every few months or once a year and usually they occur at around the same time. If your favourite brand or store usually has a recurring sale, then keep an eye out for it and save your money for a big spend.
Also remember the seasonal sales, while it doesn’t sound like fun, you can get real bargains when it comes to swimwear in winter and coats in summer so be prepared to think outside the seasons to grab a bargain.
If a business is having a sale, check to see whether their competitor is doing the same or see if they’ll price match.
5. Don’t be scared of vouchers and discount codes
Sure, you might think it’s a bit embarrassing using a voucher or a discount code but think of the savings!
There are all sorts of vouchers available. For example Borders has regular vouchers that it sends via email to its mailing list and you can save 20%. Some websites like www.frockyou.com.au offer discount codes to loyal customers.
The best way to find out about the vouchers/codes is to register on websites which regularly lists sales.
6. Shopping online
There are little quirks to online shopping so here are some tips to making sure you get the best possible bargain.
- Check where the item will be shipped from – postage and handling can be a hidden cost
- Check whether the shop/website delivers – most popular American brands do not ship internationally so you may have to look at paying for a middleperson located in the United States who will send you the package (at a cost).
- Sizing is difficult to gauge – ask for exact measurements and check the website’s refund policy. Sometimes it pays to go to the store and try the item on and then purchase it online for the cheaper price.
- Check the method of payment – most online retailers prefer PayPal these days however there are also other options available.
- Check the terms and conditions – refunds and exchanges are unlikely if the item isn’t what you were after. Usually you’ll be out of pocket for the postage and handling.
- Buy from a trusted seller – get in contact with them if you are unsure about whether they are legitimate
- Impulse shopping is a lot easier when you are doing it online so give yourself some time to think about the purchase before clicking the checkout button
- Search for other online businesses and don’t just stop on the first page – you may find that another similar website sells exactly the same product for a cheaper price
7. Planning the big shopping trip
This does depend on what kind of shopping trip you are planning. If you are headed to a regular shopping area then you’ll know where you can eat, whether you need comfortable shoes, where to park and how to get there.
If this is your first time, make sure you have the phone number of the shop that you are planning to visit (this is especially important if you are headed to their warehouse or factory) because you can always give them a call if you get lost and they’ll be happy to direct you.
If you are planning to hit several sales in one day think of the following things:
- what time are the sales on – this is important towards the end of the day because if you don’t know that the sale ends at 4pm you may find it closed if you head there
- where are the sales located – hitting the sales closest to each other before moving to the next suburb or location is always a good idea
- how popular is the sale going to be – if you know it’s going to be a popular sale then you know there’s going to be a queue. Heading to the Peep Toe Shoe sale this year there was an hour wait and this was before the sale had even started!
- what are the priority stops – you need to prioritise so that you know which sales you can give a miss if you run out of time
8. Morning or afternoon?
This does depend on your availability. Some sales are on during the weekdays and if you work then this makes it difficult unless you happen to work nearby. However, the best time to shop for bargains depends on how popular the sale is going to be and how much time you are willing to spend waiting in line.
Most die-hard shopaholics will turn up before the sale starts and try to get the best bargains so be ready for a stampede if you head out early but then be prepared to miss out on stuff in your size if your size is usually the first to go such as size 6 and 8!
9. Check out the markets
Shopping for bargains isn’t limited to sales but you can grab a great bargain at the markets. There’s also the chance you’ll grab something truly unique. There’s the Glebe Markets, Paddy’s Markets, the Rocks Markets, Balmain Markets, Rozelle Markets and Paddington Markets to name a few.
10. Get out of your comfort zone
This will mean that you need to be flexible about where you go to shop and transport plays a key part.
Sales occur in places that you may not expect and sometimes this may involve some travel. For example, Lindt chocolate lovers have to head past Blacktown for their yearly chocolate sale.
Other times the sale may be in a place without public transport so you have to plan ahead or get a bunch of friends together and car pool.
Sometimes after travelling all the way to a sale, it may not be what you expected so to get the best of these kinds of experiences it is essential not only to plan ahead but also find out what else is out there. There may be other sales in the area but at least find out if you can grab a bite to eat nearby and make it a day trip.