Sale time seems to get earlier every year, which is great news for stocking your winter wardrobe at sale prices before it gets cold. Here’s some tips to navigating the sale racks with professional focus.

Mid-season sales started this week. I find mid-season sales always come about a little unexpectedly, their only clue being a shuffling of racks in stores in the days prior, and a slowing of new styles dropping each few days.

They don’t have the fanfare of Boxing Day or end of season, so the chances of finding something great, and it still being there in your size, is higher. The savvy shopper will have a few tricks up her sleeve, though.

Tips to shop the sales like a professional

Get in early

The best sale buys will go before anyone even knows it’s happening, so if you’re walking past your favourite stores regularly and notice them setting up for sale, stay close, and ask when the sale begins. Occasionally they’ll have already marked down the stock before the official start of the sale and will sell to you at the reduced price anyhow.

It’s also a huge sanity-saver to hit the shopping centres before the rush, especially on a weekend. No bargain buzz is great enough to counteract car park rage so if you know you have a few things to pick up, arrive ten minutes before opening time, find a car park with ease, grab a coffee and start your day in peace.

Sign up to loyalty programs

A lot of people think store loyalty programs are a waste of time (and I’m sure some of them are), but stores have really had to lift their game to stay competitive against online shopping so when you sign up for a loyalty program you’re now getting a lot more than an email newsletter each fortnight. The list of stores offering additional savings to their database (normally around 20 per cent) at the outset of their sales is mounting. I noticed Country Road, Saba¬†and Mimco doing just that this week, as well as offering 20-25 per cent off new, full priced stock. Well worth handing over your email address for.

Don’t buy what you don’t need

The thrill of a sale bargain can be a really strong temptation to buy something you might wear, your sister might wear, you can give to someone, maybe… but don’t do it. Money spent unwisely is money wasted and just because it’s a steal doesn’t mean it’s right for you. If it’s the wrong size, a bad fit, a colour you hate, damaged, stained or otherwise not worth the price you would otherwise have paid at full cost, leave it behind, it’s not worth it.

Happy sale shopping!