To many sales, too many many sales. Every which way I turn this week I seem to find myself confronted by a myriad of signs; 25%, 50% and, yes, in some cases even 75% OFF! Let us picture, dear reader, the board which tempts me this time. Red and white, big and bold, it shouts beautiful promises from its place in the window enticing me in oh so sweetly. I draw closer, enamored yet cautious (after all saving has a peculiar knack for encouraging spending), nevertheless they’ve got me now and I… ah, I see so that’s their little game. I’ve ceased my approach, my interested faded as quickly as it arose and can you guess why? What could possibly have deterred me from this exciting opportunity to part with less money than I might have expected? Two words, the bane of my life, “Up to”.

Because there they are, slightly (nay, sometimes ridiculously) smaller that the huge percentage that first caught my eye, “UP TO 50%!” (If I could convey to you here exactly how significantly smaller the initial part of this is compared to the latter I would, but it proves inconvenient.) But you don’t need me to tell you, just go out and have a look in sales season and those words will be out there, waiting for you above promises of savings. Now it may be that i’m being a tad judgemental, after all it’s not exactly a lie, actually it’s almost too honest. Within, it tells you, there will be savings of up to a certain percentage (interestingly this does not go so far as to actually include said percentage but that is by the by), but it still strikes me as sneaky and more than a little unnecessary. Are they trying to trick us or just cover their own backs? It seems innocent enough but the implication is clear in that these adverts clearly seek to suggest that savings will be uniform within the highest bracket and this they know, surely, is never the case.

Now I will be open enough to admit that I am more than a little biased; being my father’s daughter, as I am, I soon came to realise that even a quick stroll through one’s local  high street during the sale season can afford a veritable plethora of opportunities for irritation, if one is only prepared to look close enough. The “Up To” question, I must disclose, is a particular favourite of his in this regard.

So what is the alternative? Well obviously I don’t expect any business to stretch to “discounts may include”, that would be ridiculous; also, since I would prefer the initial text to match any percentage in font and size, a long line of massive text may quite deter me in any case. After all, what’s the use in grabbing my attention if I can’t see the clothes for the signs? No it ought to be snappy, and look good; after all they’re free to advertise their sales, and shopping ought to remain fun and exciting even at a discount.

When did just saying “SALE!” become insufficient? That tells me all I need to know; there are discounts inside and if I want to find out more I ought to go in and investigate, which is what I would have done in any case since the “Up To” wasn’t fooling me. It would be quite naive to march into an “Up To” sale, grab the first item you see, stroll up to the cash desk and demand the discount percentage suggested in the window. Any cashier may kindly direct your attention to the two word caveat, included to deter smart-arses or more likely they’d look at you with a kind of sad pity; the kind that pats you gently on the back says “you haven’t quite got the hang of this yet, have you?”

It’s implicit in the situation, always has been always will be, at the end of the day the store can demand what price they like from you, the customer, who then decides whether or not to pay. I get it. Still though i’d like “Up To” to be at least the same size as any percentage or fraction discount suggested; after all its as least as important. Otherwise the whole sign seems… well, just a tad dishonest, that’s all.