/ 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.

Carole says:
18 February 2017

What are the rules if you buy furniture in a sale. In addition, Get free (discounted) insurance and half price delivery. Then sofa is reduced by further £100. Not yet taken delivery of furniture. Asked for further £10 to be honoured, but told that as we have managers discretion all free insurance allowance we won’t also get the further reduction on sofa. Is this right?

steve says:
6 March 2019

They are surely not ” sales” at all? The “so-called” sale prices almost certainly equal the actual real prices! The “so-called” brief real price is therefore the inflated price – only used so they can seemingly lower it to the so-called sale price. Who do they think they’re kidding? I know it’s “caveat emptor” but the law is surely an ass and I do feel for those vulnerable consumers (on whom these stores depend) who might fall for what I believe appears to be a dishonest con.