20 tips for how to get the best deal when you buy new furniture
Buying new furniture can be a time-consuming process. There’s more choice in terms of styles than ever before and more places to buy from, ranging from traditional high street retailers to online-only stores. Finding what you really want is part of the challenge, but how can you get the best deal once you have found the perfect items for your home?
Here, we share the top 20 money-saving tips to help you get the best possible price, whatever your budget is…
1) Buy in the ‘January sales’
Switch on the TV on Christmas day and you’ll be bombarded with furniture advertisements for sales starting on Boxing day. This bombardment will invariably last throughout January.
Commercially, furniture stores often need to offer their best deals at this time, for a number of reasons:
- Firstly, retailers know that many people have spent their disposable income, and perhaps some savings, leading up to Christmas time. Therefore, they need to offer an extra incentive to buy, otherwise they face a very quiet start to the year in terms of sales. Any quiet sales period is especially difficult for traditional ‘bricks and mortar’ shops, with high rents and staff costs to cover, and of course we’ve recently seen some notable high street stores either struggling or closing down completely.
- Furniture stores also know that they face stern competition for customer spend during this time, primarily due to the fact that their competitors are also offering aggressive discounts. This has created a spiralling effect in recent years, with more and more retailers offering higher and higher discounts. Additionally, as well as their direct competitors, they’re also vying for consumer spend with other, non-related businesses, such as kitchen retailers.
- January is also a time when retailers can clear older lines, ready for new Spring collections. If you’re not too worried about having the very latest range – and most people aren’t – then you can get a great deal on a range that might be being phased out. One small note of caution here though – it’s best to ask how much longer a particular range is being sold for, if you intend to buy other items from the range at a later date. For example, it would be deflating to say the least if you go back to buy the matching sideboard a few months later, only to find that it’s no longer available.
2) Buy in the summer
January is certainly one of the best times of year to save money, but the summer months are another good opportunity. You might not see as many advertisements for sales during this period, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t bargains to be had. Summer is a traditionally quiet time within the furniture industry – consumers are spending time and money on holidays or the garden – and so extra discounts are often offered during this time, to compensate for the lull.
3) Buy at the end of the month
If you’re looking to purchase from a shop, buying towards the end of the month will often give you more scope to haggle. Many shops have monthly (and indeed quarterly) targets to hit, plus sales staff’s salaries are often partly commission-based. Therefore, if you make an offer with a few working days to go until the end of the trading period, it’s more likely to be accepted.
Of course, this isn’t always the case – after all, if the store or the particular sales person has had a great month already then they will be more reluctant to erode margin. However, more often than not you’ve got a better chance of a deal.
4) Consider ‘nearly new’
You’ll usually get a great deal on ex-display or returned items. If you don’t mind it not being ‘brand new’ you could save hundreds of pounds and so be sure to ask the sales advisor what’s available either on the shop floor, the stockroom or the warehouse.
5) Be confident about haggling
You’ll be surprised how many people haggle, and equally furniture retailers are often (pleasantly) surprised that more people don’t. Some would argue that we Brits just aren’t very good at it, but as the old adage states, ‘if you don’t ask you don’t get’.
Most retailers have some margin to play with and furniture is a ‘big ticket’ item, so you owe it to yourself to try to get a discount, by building up a rapport with the sales advisor and then simply asking the question or suggesting a price. This still applies if there’s a ‘sale’ on at the retailer, as there’s often still scope for further money off, or perhaps extras thrown in, such as free delivery.
Whilst haggling is more common face to face in shops, it’s certainly worth trying with online retailers as well. Dropping them an email or calling to enquire as to whether there is any further discount available only takes a few minutes and could save you money, especially if you state that you’ve seen the same or a similar product for sale elsewhere. Competition online is as fierce as it is in traditional retail and so it’s certainly worth a try.
Ultimately, as with any form of negotiation, you’re in the strongest position if you have other options and are therefore prepared to walk away.
6) Go independent
Purchasing from an independent retailer can have many benefits, including a more personal level of customer service and a choice of products that often aren’t available in the larger chains. Additionally, both independent shops and websites are sometimes more open to doing a deal. It’s their business and so they have more authority to make decisions on price.
7) Buy in bulk
Don’t worry – this doesn’t mean that you need to buy 14 coffee tables at once. However, buying a furniture set (for example, a dining table, dining chairs and a sideboard) means a higher transaction value for the retailer and therefore more scope for a discount.
The retailer can also usually save on delivery costs if several items are being delivered at once, to one address, which again gives you an opportunity for negotiation.
If you do take the approach of purchasing lots at once, just be absolutely sure that you truly want all of the items. For example, buying more dining chairs than you actually need or will use in effect won’t be a saving at all.
8) Ask for a price match
You may like the price at one retailer but have a preference to buy from somebody else. If the product is very similar or the same, ask if they will price match. Even if it’s not official company policy, they often will.
9) Imperfect could be perfect!
If you’re buying the exact item that you see in the shop but there are any marks or scratches, ask for a discount. Any piece won’t remain perfect forever once it’s in your home anyway, so getting a discount for tiny blemishes is a great way to save money.
10) Pay with your credit card
It’s probably going to be a relatively big purchase that you make and so if you pay by credit card you may be able to gain reward points. Pay off the card balance immediately and you won’t even incur any interest.
11) Buy the specification, not the brand name
Do your research and try to find out as much as possible about the specification of the furniture. The adage ‘you get what you pay for’ is often true, but not always so, as you spend more and more.
For example, you may find that spending £200 on a pair of dining chairs online gets you the same quality and specification of product as a pair that are £400 in a high street store. Shops usually have greater overheads which means that their margins need to be higher, but that doesn’t mean that you should succumb to that.
Additionally, as is the case with fashion retail, past a certain threshold of quality you’re often simply paying for the brand name. The price might be a lot higher with a brand, but that doesn’t mean that you’ve got a proportionately better quality of product as a result.
12) Be open-minded about the style
The more flexible you are about what style of furniture you’d like, the more scope you have for getting the best deal.
For example, reclaimed wood furniture is certainly an emerging trend that’s worth considering. It’s great for the environment, the timber used is usually robust hardwood and yet it’s often cheaper than brand new wood equivalents.
13) Check delivery and return policies carefully
Getting the best deal isn’t exclusively about getting the most financial discount off of the product itself. There’s little point in securing a great discount if the product you get is not what you want and it’s subsequently difficult and / or expensive to return or exchange it.
Hopefully you won’t have any problems but checking delivery and return policies only takes a few minutes and gives you much greater transparency about where you stand if the items aren’t up to your expectations.
14) Consider outlet or returns shops
Many retailers have outlet stores, where they’ll sell end-of-line or ex-display items. These are often dramatically cheaper than the original price you’d pay in store.
Partly as a bi-product of the growth of online retail, there are also many furniture businesses around the UK that trade exclusively in returned items. Many larger UK retailers aren’t particularly motivated to sell returned products themselves and they therefore instead sell these on to discount ‘resellers’.
These resellers are often based on industrial estates and are ‘no frills’, but if you don’t mind that, there are many benefits – you get to see a great selection of furniture in one place, heavily discounted from the original retail price.
15) Buy good quality furniture
‘Buy cheap, buy twice’ is often true when it comes to furniture. If you only intend for the furniture to last a few years (before you then upgrade or change styles) then quality isn’t so much of an issue, but if you envisage the furniture still being part of your home in ten years’ time, it’s best to pay a little bit more for better quality. After all, it’s a false economy if you ‘save’ now only to have to prematurely buy replacement furniture again a few years down the line.
16) Fashions change…
‘Fashions change, style remains’ is another applicable saying. In much the same way that you don’t want to be buying again in a few years because the quality wasn’t good enough, you also don’t want to be shopping again because the furniture you chose is now well and truly out of fashion. If in doubt, don’t be too bold with your choice of style.
17) Choose self-assembly
This route will undoubtedly save you money and with so much choice in the market today, self-assembly / flat-pack certainly doesn’t mean that the quality will be poor. However, there is a time commitment that you should consider, plus you need to be confident that you’re practically minded enough to put the items together correctly.
18) Pay in cash
You’ll sometimes get a better price if you don’t take out finance.
19) It doesn’t have to be new
For most shoppers, ‘new means new’. However, especially if you’re on a budget, it’s absolutely worth considering buying used / second hand furniture, as it has environmental, ethical and financial benefits.
The UK disposes of 10 million tonnes of wood every year, which is a terrible waste. Buying used furniture is one way to reduce this waste – you’ll be giving a new home to perfectly good furniture, plus there’s always the opportunity to ‘upcycle’ it if you want to give it a new lease of life.
The likes of eBay and Gumtree are of course good local sources, but charity furniture shops are often an even better option, as you get lots of choice under one roof and your purchase will benefit a good cause.
As it’s much cheaper, buying second hand will free up cash for other things. Even if you have the money for new, it’s worth pondering what else you might want or need (for example, other home improvements, holidays, cars etc) and how important furniture is in comparison to these.
20) Buy furniture online
Finally, it’s not always the case, but often if you buy furniture online it will be cheaper than from a shop / high street store. ‘E-tailers’ don’t have many of the overheads that stores have, such as shop rent and sales staff, and so these savings can be passed on to you in the form of cheaper prices.