January is traditionally the most popular time for bargain sales. The sales and consumers’ buying behaviour result from a variety of factors. Increasing environmental awareness and climate change also affect the mechanisms of sales.


“Most often people head for sales because of two main factors: practicality or pleasure seeking,” says Professor of Marketing Outi Uusitalo from the University of Jyväskylä. “For example, practical buyers may purchase gifts for the next Christmas affordably, whereas more hedonistic consumers enjoy the possibility to find something new or get pleasure from spending money they have saved.”

“Ways to consume have become very impulsive over the years”

According to Uusitalo, the main reason for the timing of sales is the annual cycle of retail trade. Shops want to get rid of winter season products because unnecessary storage is expensive. One factor affecting the winter sales nowadays is the more unpredictable buying behaviour of consumers. For example, a warm early winter may mean that winter jackets and skis are left on shop shelves to wait for colder and snowy weather.

“In this sense, ways to consume have become very impulsive over the years,” Uusitalo explains. “This reflected in sales so that if the winter is warm, shops must sell their winter season products at a bigger discount.”

“In recent years people have invested more in the quality of products.”

Outi Uusitalo

Winter sports products and winter clothes are the largest product groups in January sales. In addition, winter sales often include electronics and home textiles. Uusitalo says that the general recovery of the economy this decade and increasing environmental awareness have had an impact on what products are bought from sales:

“In recent years people have invested more in the quality of products. Consumers also buy normally expensive design or quality products from sales because they may not afford them otherwise or do not want to pay their regular high prices. Recent buying bans and other campaigns against overconsumption may be very popular among certain groups, but for the time being they do not have any visible statistical effect on the general buying behaviour.”

Get latest articles from The University of Jyväskylä’s stakeholder magazine into your email. You can cancel your subscription at any time.