Philobiblon: The sale cycle

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The sale cycle

I had cause to cross Oxford Street a couple of times today (a great exhibition at the National Gallery was one of the causes, but more on that tomorrow). It was heaving, swarming, overflowing - it is hard to think of an adequate adjective - with sale shoppers. The radio also carried the usual reports of traffic chaos around the big shopping centres; the hunters were out after so-called "bargains".

No, I wasn't joining them, at least not directly. I do most of my shopping these days on eBay (or on La Redoute for staples like white T-shirts). I don't go into an actual physical shop unless I can't possibly avoid it.

But I do eventually expect to be a beneficiary of the sales; lots of the items I buy on eBay, usually "BNWT" (Brand New With Tags) have sale markings on them. For example I've got a pair of bone-coloured leather boots that I bought, unworn, on eBay for £20. The woman who sold them to me explained they "didn't quite match the colour of her outfit". She'd paid £50, marked down from £150.

She no doubt thought she was getting a bargain, but it is hardly a bargain if you never wear the item concerned.

I suspect that will be the fate of many of the sale items bought today - buying something "because it is cheap" can be terribly tempting.

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