Buy now while stocks last.

In years gone by all of the major retailers’ sales started on the same day – and at the same time on the same day – and queues were formed outside our shops in the middle of July before the main summer giveaway started and then again just after Christmas for the Winter Sale.

These days every shop seems to have a permanent sale. We’re bombarded every night of the week with adverts for ‘half price sofas’, ‘two thirds off all of our TVs’ and ‘lowest price ever washing machines’. Buy now while stocks last they all seems to say, enticing us in to buy things that we certainly don’t need and in many cases don’t even really want.

On top of that we’re often told that we need to rush because the ‘great give away must end this Saturday’ or that we should ‘hurry because there are only three more days left at these great prices’. The reality is that these ‘great prices’ will still be around in two months time somewhere in the country, or that another retailer will be selling the same goods at a better price and not even calling it a sale at all! And that’s before we even start to look at the bargains available these days online. So when is a sale a real bargain, and when is it just clever marketing?

The Consumer Protection Act 1987 sets out guidelines for sale items. For the discounted offer to be considered genuine, the goods must have being offered at the higher price for at least 28 consecutive days during the last six months (in the same shop), prior to the goods being discounted or ‘placed on sale’.

So it’s easy then? Well not really and several retailers have been taken to task by the Office of Fair Trading for misleading adverts and for falsely inflating the price of goods before a ‘sale’ begins. So if you are looking for a bargain, patience and a good look round before parting with your hard earned cash may be a better option than rushing to the shop with the biggest and loudest adverts!

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