23 Dec 2013

Winter sale ‘chaos’… well, it was in 1972

Fashions may change, but some things stay exactly the same. Shoppers 40 years ago were just as hungry for bargains as we are today – although maybe a little more polite than we’re used to.

From the archives: ITN’s Keith Hatfield joins shoppers at the winter sales in 1972

It may not be on your shopping list, but cheap china was all the rage in the winter sales at one London department store in 1972.

Not long after the Christmas presents had been unwrapped and the last of the turkey sandwiches was almost gone, ITN’s Keith Hatfield was in Oxford Street mingling with the hardy souls waiting for the doors to open at shops full of cut-price goodies.

The January sales started early that year, and in the wee hours of 28 December a small group of women hoping to snag some bargain “coats, boots and suits” gathered in the cold and the gloom, a little surprised at how few people had turned out.

In the wee hours a small group of women hoping to snag some bargain ‘coats, boots and suits’ gathered in the cold and the gloom

But by opening time – with £30 off a fridge and bargain eyelashes to be had – Hatfield watched as the shops filled with eager bargain hunters, most of whom seemed to be heading for the china department where, as plates clinked and ladies shouted to each other, “no dish was left unturned”.

According to Hatfield, the big sales that year were “not what they used to be” – no big giveaways but bargains for everyone, which meant there was no real need to queue all night to be there first.

But what is clear is that even after the Christmas spending spree, no-one on Oxford Street that particular morning was short of money.