’Tis the season to have frayed nerves; as shop assistants harry, and fail to serve

1. True sales, however much we’re unwilling to admit it, are to be found abroad. In England, it’s possible to find real treasures in the baskets: clothes from the year before last at a 75-percent discount and winter clothes at half price. In France, you don’t have to be a maths genius to suss out the discount – clothes and accessories are divided according to price. But it is America that is a true sales paradise: designer labels at truly affordable prices. 2. Now for Greece. You ask what the discount is and the sales assistants make you cringe with shame. Whatever talk there might be of a market crisis, the situation is a total turn-off. Although sales last two to three months, prices remain high, since real bargains are two years old, torn, worn and as crumpled as dish rags. 3. Shop windows are more tasteless than ever in this period, reminiscent of shops selling cheap, seasonal goods. Unfortunately, they have the contents to match. But don’t be daunted by the exterior, however. Real bargains always await where we least expect them. 4. Smudged labels may have two, even three prices written on them. Frequently, sales assistants don’t go to the trouble to do the arithmetic. Most often, they don’t even know what the final sale price is. 5. There is no wardrobe anywhere which does not have shoes, skirts and dresses that have never been worn. You’re not alone if you live in the hope that the time they were in fashion will return. But how many unsuccessful buys have you made up till now? 6.You need to be in the position to peer into the baskets, read between the lines of sizes and brand names, in the hope of them being that heaven-sent bargain. Throw a glance round you for good measure so you’re not caught at it. 7. January is the month beloved of fashion. Every day that passes sees the price index fall further – together with the balance in your bank account. Remember that sales do not exist because store owners have made a truce with shoppers and their wallets, but because they have to offload, at all cost, the goods left on the shelf. Don’t buy anything that you don’t really want. 8. It’s the first price on the label that should impress. Otherwise, shopping tactics during sales should be the same as on any other day of the year – don’t be taken in by an impressive-looking offer. 9. It’s a good thing to carry a light bag and wear comfortable shoes – like the ones you’d take with you on a journey. 10. Take a quick peek into your cupboard and try a color combination inside your head. A jacket, coat, pair of trousers or skirt in classic lines are always a good buy. If you don’t find anything in your size and buy something larger, then add the cost of taking it in to what you’ve forked out. Forget the mantra, «I’ll lose weight.» It rarely works.

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