Is impulse-buying good while shopping while shopping premium brands at a sale?

People may not love the rains, but monsoon sales are the favourite with most of them. It has almost become an annual ritual with people to shop for their favourite brands during the sale period that are otherwise too expensive to purchase. And the retailers are more than happy to cash in on this consumer frenzy.

Yes, it's once again that time of the season to go on a shopping spree and pick up stuff at discounts varying from 10 to 90% on your favourite products... be it apparel, shoes, bags or watches. Some people may even want to buy presents to give their friends through the year for birthdays, reunions and so on, and this year is no different.

The economic slowdown hasn't cast its shadow on the so-called season's sales. Huge hoardings are visible at every busy traffic signal. But, one small nagging doubt: Is it a smart idea to shop at these sales? Sure, you save a lot of money, but does it make financial sense to shop as if there won't be another sale in this millennium.

"Year-end sales are a great time to shop from a consumer's perspective since you can get premium brands at a discount on such occasions," says Ram Gudipati, Manging Director, Brand Harvest.

"Do not indulge in impulsive buying and avoid purchasing high-value items in a sale. Ensure that the sale is genuine and you get value in what you are buying," says Devangshu Dutta, Chief Executive Officer, Third Eyesight, a consulting firm focused on retail and consumer products.

Check-List for a Sale Shopaholic

Check if the sale is genuine

There are many reasons behind an end-of-the-season sale. As a consumer, you need to understand if it works for you or not before opening the wallet.

"Due to the slowdown in the economy, manufacturers could not sell everything that they produced, resulting in a higher inventory, which they want to liquidate before the festive season sets in. A sale is one of the best ways to do it," says Arvind Singhal, Chairman, Technopak Advisors.

"Styles and fashion change fast. In the case of apparel, designs could go out of fashion fast. Hence if a manufacturer has excess stock of a particular design, which he feels will go out of fashion, he would be better off selling it at a discounted price through a sale," says Devangshu Dutta.

Of course, there is nothing wrong in both the above cases, as it is genuine and it could work in your favour, say experts. Then there are some retailers who play on consumer psyche, whom consumers need to be careful of. "Many retailers deliberately mark up a price of a product throughout the year in the normal season and then mark it down during the sale period," adds Dutta.

So a product whose fair price is actually Rs 400 is deliberately marked up to Rs 800 throughout the year. A regular customer at the store is tricked into believing that it's the best price and grabs the product in a sale on seeing a 50% discount.

Of course for a layman it is very difficult to distinguish whether a sale is genuine or not. However, if you use the brand regularly or visit the store regularly, it will be easier for you to judge whether the sale is genuine or not. You will be able to distinguish stores that use such tricks over ones that are genuine.

"Consumers should scan the market and check comparable products, which will give you an idea if the sale is genuine or not," says Dutta.

Exercise caution while buying High-value items

While apparels or shoes are great to buy in a sale as they are low-value items, the same may not be the case with costly consumer durables or other high-value items.

Experts suggest consumers should be careful when it comes to buying a television, refrigerator or air conditioner during an year-end sale. Many a time the product may be available without the packaging or could have a dent or the paint would have peeled off and so on. While a minor defect may be ok, it is important for a consumer to check whether the company is ready to provide full-service and warranty for a product sold at a sale.

Many stores do not offer replacement for products bought during a sale. So in case of apparel and shoes ensure what you are buying fits you, since it may be difficult to replace the product otherwise.

Be a judicious buyer

Many of us just get tempted and buy all the things that are on sale, irrespective of whether we will use them or not. Experts caution against such impulsive buying. Spread your purchases over a period of time, rather than buying everthing in just one day, they advise.

"Buy a product only if you are going to start using it within the next two or three months," says Aasheesh Mediratta, Director Sales, Fashionandyou. So if there is a "Buy two get one free" offer, see if you need three trousers or that many T-shirts.

This article was originally published in the Economic Times dated 2nd August, 2012, written by