Laura Mulqueen takes a look at the pros and cons of buying for knockdown prices and wonders whether we're buying what we need or just looking at the 30% discount and being unable to say no?

January plays host to the biggest sales of the year, as people flock to towns and cities across Ireland in the hopes of nabbing some bargains. Is this simply a marketing technique by retailers or is it worth leaving home to brace the cold and crowds?

It all depends on what you seek when going shopping. If there is something you really need, for example new footwear, Winter clothes, electrical appliances etc. then chances are it is worth your time scouring the sales this January. Competition is at an all-time high as people ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ over the lower prices available.

If there is something that you need then it makes shopping at sales much less stressful. Knowing what you want cuts out a supreme amount of time wandering aimlessly through stores hoping for something to catch your eye.

Penney's proved themselves the ruler of fashion sales as fifty per cent off signs lorded their window displays. Coats, gym wear, basic t-shirts, shoes and so on were all slashed in price. Shoppers were browsing the store until closing time hoping to pick up bargains.

New Look also deserve a look as racks of clothes went on sale in the Jervis Shopping Centre branch. Miss Selfridge, Dorothy Perkins, Schuh, Boots and the Body Shop also boasted tempting sales on their Christmas stock. 

There are money savers available if you have a sensible head on your shoulders. Having clear idea in your head of what you want and what you need is important. As well as bargains on the shelves yesterday, there was a lot of unsold items for under ten euro buried amongst the sales racks.

 A lot of trashy items tempted me. On more than one occasion I had a dress tucked under my arm as I wandered around the store. But by the time I reached the checkout line and I stared seriously at the item without the glamour of thirty per cent off surrounding me, the dress was discarded into a shelf. 

I am going to suggest a thought, just to consider. Is it really worth buying so many presents before Christmas at full price, rather than wait an extra week to get the same giftset at half the price?

The same goes for beauty products such as perfume, make-up, body lotions etc. I strolled into Lush on Saturday afternoon to see their Santa Baby lip scrub was reduced from somewhere in the region of seven fifty down to three euro.

 For a lip scrub with Santa in the title I think this could have been cheaper still. Regardless of it being a popular brand like Lush, these reductions in prices are too good to pass up. It is also a big wake up call to what we are willing to spend and what the retailers can afford to sell it off as.

We are paying copious amounts knowing the prices during the sales. Personally I wouldn't mind waiting the extra week for my gifts if it was the difference of a hundred euro.

From a college students' perspective, the sales were amazing. I picked up a handful of clothes for about thirty euro that has my college attire sorted for the coming months. But if there are readers who are simply curious of the sales and are not looking for anything in particular, then I urge you to stay at home and shake your head at consumerism.