January Sales guide 2021
We've got a whole load of savvy shopping tips, as well as a rundown of the best sales out there this January – get scrolling to bag the best bargains.
Once Christmas is well and truly behind us (😢), Boxing Day sees the start of some very festive sales that continue throughout January. The shopping ninjas among you will have saved up for the January sales, or may have been given some dosh by your nan to "get yourself something nice".
Sales are a great opportunity to revamp your wardrobe or invest in some much-needed household gadgets – just make sure you still have enough to eat for the next month once you're done!
We've come up with some tips and tricks to help you make the most of the sales this January. If you reckon you're already a savvy enough shopper, you might want to head straight down to our list of this year's best January sales at the bottom of the page.
Top tips for shopping in the January sales
Here are the best ways to find great deals in the Boxing Day and January sales:
Make a shopping list
The first step to saving money in the January sales is making a shopping list – it's super important to know what you want to buy before you go shopping.
Make a mental note of what you got for Christmas and then decide whether you need anything else. If your presents were pretty spot on this year, you might want to hold off on the sales and focus on saving your money.
But, if there are still a few things you need (or want), you might fancy a little treat or two.
Set a budget
We can sense your eye-roll from behind our screens, but this tip is probably the most important!
If you want to save money when shopping in the sales, make sure you set yourself a budget and stick to it.
A good way to avoid spending over a set amount is to give yourself an incentive. Maybe you're saving up for a holiday or a nicer place to live? Keep that in mind when you're about to break your budget.
Only buy sales items if they're the cheapest option
Giving in to the temptation of spending more, just because something's reduced, is a big rookie error.
Imagine there's a pair of shoes you've had your eye on but, alas, they’re not on offer. A different, slightly snazzier brand does have shoes on sale, but they're still more expensive than your original choice.
Don't fall for it! Go for the cheaper version even if it's not on offer, unless you truly think the traded up version is the best thing since sliced bread (spoiler: it probably isn't!).
This tip's particularly important as, when there's the option to pay for things later and in instalments, it can be tempting to buy things that are out of your price range, just because you can. We'd strongly advise against doing this – our guide to Klarna and the risks of 'buy now, pay later' services explains all.
Avoid the temptation of window-shopping
If your eyes are bigger than your stomach (or wallet), you might want to sit the sales out this time around.
You may tell yourself that you fancy 'window shopping', but trust us – the bargains are very hard to avoid once you're in the thick of it and already have three Game of Thrones boxsets in your basket.
It might be worth steering clear of the shops if you think you'll struggle to avoid splashing the cash. The summer sales will be here before you know it!
Resist impulse buys
Saying something along the lines of "oh wow, that neon orange vest top that I absolutely do not need is 90% off!" is probably a good sign that it's time to step away from the sales…
Stick to your list — don't be tempted by prices alone or buy things for the sake of it. You'll only end up cluttering your room anyway.
Double-check prices before buying
Even if something is a whopping 75% off, that doesn't mean it's reasonably priced.
Don't give in to sales mania – come back to your senses and work out how much you're actually saving.
The luxury pair of pyjamas you're tempted by might have £50 taken off the price tag, but still cost a whopping £100. That's not far off what students at some universities pay for rent each week!
Use your student discount and stack offers
It's always worth whipping out the plastic and at least asking if you can get further discounts on reduced items – the worst that could happen is they'll say no.
To get the most out of your student discount, have a read of our full guide.
Shop around and compare prices
We're probably teaching you to suck eggs here, but there's no harm in a gentle reminder!
Go to at least one or two other shops that sell the same thing to compare prices, especially if you're buying essential gadgets.
And don't forget to use your phone to check the price online as well. Price comparison websites like Idealo are super handy for checking which retailers (both high street and online) offer the best deals.
Disclaimer: not every store is included on Idealo but it is a useful tool for uncovering deals on lesser-known websites, and for getting an indication of how low prices can be.
Which brings us to our next point...
Do your January sales shopping online instead
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, this year it will be a lot safer to avoid the crowded shops and search through the Boxing Day and January sales online instead (of course, depending on where you live, this may be the only way for you to do it anyway).
And it's actually much easier to shop around and compare prices online instead of physically looking in shops.
Check out our handy list of online sales at the bottom of this page to get started.
Don't rush into making purchases
You have time on your side. Most sales last until the end of January, and some items on sale may not even go back up in price afterwards.
If your bank account is feeling a little bruised after the Christmas crunch, give it a few weeks until prices have been further reduced.
In fact, the longer you wait, the greater your chances will be of bagging a bargain. Shops generally slash prices towards the end of the sales to boost their chance of getting rid of unsold items.
Buy out-of-season sale items
If you consider yourself a bit of a fashion guru, you might already have an idea about what the next trend is, or prefer to do your own thing and ignore trends altogether. Plus, think ahead to summer!
The January sales are a great time to gear up for the hotter months of the year, so if you do see something that takes your fancy that's slightly out of season, don't let that put you off. Bikinis sell for so much less in January.
Remember you don't have to buy anything
If it gets to the end of the day and you still haven't found anything in the sales, our advice is: close your laptop. Your bank account will be grateful for the rest, we promise.
Don't just buy something up for the sake of it – you'll regret it when you see the money leave your account.
See if you can get a refund on sale items
Just in case you change your mind about anything you've bought in the sales, double-check if a shop offers refunds for items bought on sale that aren't faulty.
By law, shops have to offer refunds for items that are faulty, not fit for purpose or incorrectly advertised all year round, whether bought during the sales or not.
Most shops also offer refunds for items that you no longer want up to a month after purchase as a gesture of goodwill, but they do not always extend this policy to items bought during the sales.
If you're unsure whether you actually want something or you haven't got time to try it on, make sure the retailer offers refunds for sales items before you buy it. And if your heart's only half in it, you could probably do without it!
Give our consumer rights guide a read if you're unsure whether you would qualify for a refund.
Look for birthday presents in the January sales
Even if you haven't got any friends' or family members' birthdays immediately coming up, the January sales are an ideal time to shop ahead and find cheaper presents.
Shops will have some of their best sales of the year this month, so save future you some money (and stress) by buying gifts for your nearest and dearest while the prices are low.
Be a happy shopper
This should go without saying but, if you are going into stores this January, always make sure you're polite to other shoppers and staff.
We know it can be frustrating when the shops are rammed and clothes are strewn all over the place. But, no pair of trainers is worth elbowing someone in the face for – no matter how cheap they are!
50+ top January sales
|House of Fraser||50%|
|Pretty Little Thing||60%|
|Schuh||75% + 10% student discount|
|& Other Stories||50%|
You can also look through all of the sales and our current deals on offer in the student deals section of the site.
Bought some new jeans without trying them on and (whoops) realised they don't fit? If it's too late to return them, check out the best places to sell your clothes online.