/ Shopping

The never-ending sale: the never-ending joke?

Colourful sale signs

A Which? investigation tracking furniture sale prices reveals what most of us have long suspected – that sales never stop. Have you seen items on sale for longer than they should be?

Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t the term ‘sale’ imply that the price is a special offer for a limited time only? But furniture companies appear to think the ‘sale’ is the norm.

We tracked online prices on 300 sofas and beds for seven months and found some infuriating results, although I’m not sure you’ll be surprised.

A seven month ‘sale’

Some products we tracked were on ‘sale’ for seven months! Bensons for Beds and Sleepmasters were culprits, but others aren’t off the hook for potentially misleading people into thinking they’re making huge savings.

One trend was to put the items on a non-sale price for around three to four weeks, but then drop them back to a sale for anywhere up to 20! Yes, that means you Furniture Village, SCS, Dreams and Harveys.

There are government guidelines for how shops should promote prices, but they have shortcomings. For example, shops shouldn’t really have something on ‘sale’ for longer than it was at the non-sale price – but bizarrely they’re allowed to do this if they tell you about it.

So, if a shop wants to up the price of a sofa to its non-sale price for just two weeks, but keep it on ‘sale’ the rest of the time, they can. On one Harvey’s sofa there was a notice on their website saying they were doing exactly that.

Fair enough, they’re open about the fact that they want the sofa virtually permanently on ‘sale’, but can anyone take a product seriously when it’s on ‘sale’ for 30 out of 32 weeks?

The truth about ‘extra discounts’

And here’s a question for you: when is an ‘extra discount’ not an ‘extra discount’? When the price is exactly the same as the ‘sale’ price before it.

One Bensons for Bed double divan had a ‘sale price’ of £399. So imagine my confusion when, the week after Christmas, the same bed had an ‘extra discount’ price of… £399.

Lesson learnt. I won’t buy a sofa from one of these chains at full price as I’ll probably be doing myself out of a few hundred quid. If you see something you like and it’s at ‘full price’, ask when the next sale is.

Don’t feel pressured into buying one of these big ticket items just because the word ‘sale’ is emblazoned across the price tag. Chances are it’ll be there for a long time.

stewart mason says:
25 July 2010

You’ve missed the biggest culprit of all time – DFS furniture
They have a permanent sale every day of the year
If they try to con people about a sale it makes you wonder if their furniture is really worth what you pay for it, even at so called sale prices
I would never, on principle, buy anything from them
It is impossible for the man in the street to know the quality of either furniture or beds that they buy
I could tell you a long story about Benson Beds
I breathed a sigh of relief when I finally got my money back with the help of trading standards


Yeah u r right about DFS furniture they always perpetrate on sale and direct bargains, i think either they sell low quality cheap chinese furniture or they just add more profit margin and put them on sale. DFS furniture is definitely trying to con people with the slogan SALE!!


I’ve seen the same sofas at up to 50% off at Furniture Village for over 2 years and they appear in their sale brochure at the same price. FV occasionally send me a "special customer" discount of 10 or 20% . Do their marketing department really think people are this gullible to believe in fictional "sale" prices repeatedly featured in adverts and leaflets?


Never, ever (I repeat, EVER!) pay full price for a piece of furniture at a store!!

Sales are NOT sales at furniture stores. If you want a true sale price then turn up during a Furniture Village store DURING one of its ‘sales’, then demand a 10% discount (be prepared to walk if they say no). I’ll (almost) guarantee you’ll get what you’re asking for (otherwise I’d eat my hat if I had one!).

allan says:
1 November 2016

I went one better….saw a sofa I wanted at dfs..£499 in a sale….did not need it straight away as was in middle of DIY and it would just get in the way…Went back two weeks later £995…( yeah right )….so…got £500 in cash…went in…then this pushy strop of a guy came over to serve me…I said I will have this please, its what im looking for…certainly sir…will be £995…
No….it was £499 two weeks back….that was in the sale then…its now full price.
So I said….I have £500 cash here in an envelope…im going to walk slowly to the door. If you stop me and say ok deal…fine. Even keep £1.00 tip…but if I get outside, I will go else where…even if you say yes…
Guess what….I got to the door and was called back….The sales guy said he managed to arrange it as a special discount….he says it took a lot of persuading ( course it did ) but I got the sofa for £500….
I would encourage every body do the same…..it will work.

Dave Swansea says:
26 July 2010

It would be great if Which carried out the same exercise in Carpetright.
I saw a man-made wilton on sale for £13.99 sq mtr normally £49.99 sq mtr.
Who are they kidding.
The public need to wake up and boycott these chains and start supporting
your local trader.

floorman says:
6 October 2010

i own three carpet shops and have worked for cr for 8 years i know all their scams dont buy there support your local indepentdent shop dont get ripped off

Tony says:
26 July 2010

It’s a pity, but more legislation does seem necessary in this field + warnings about pressure to buy liquids that will clean or protect your leather furniture – or sale of associated insurance. Hey look, I just want this chair! OK? And, does anyone negotiate prices???


I have noticed with many of these big shed stores that one sale just rolls into another and different items of furniture go in and out of discount over time making it virtually impossible for purchasers to judge