FORGET eating, drinking and sleeping in front of the telly. If there is one ritual that has become a must for thousands of people during the festive season, it's donning winter woollies - and perhaps elbow guards - and throwing themselves headlong into the sales.
Certainly in Edinburgh, shoppers not content with the pre-Christmas consumer rush were thronging the city centre desperate to bag the best bargains.
And what are the bargain hunters buying? Well according to a John Lewis poll of 3500 shoppers, clothes are the most sought-after sale items, with shoes, kitchen gadgets, books and sporting equipment also popular.
But just where are the bargains to be found in Edinburgh? Here's the lowdown on the best of the sales in the Capital. Happy hunting!
High street clothes
AT John Lewis you'll find that prices on fashion have been slashed. For instance, a JFW Shearling duffel coat in black or chocolate is reduced from 90 to 60, while a JFW detachable fur-collar wool coat, is down from 120 to 80. Similarly a JFW single-breasted tweed coat is half-price at 50, and cashmere cardigans are reduced to 55.
Nearby in Proudfoots in Multrees Walk, there's up to 30 per cent off selected leather jackets and lambskin jackets and coats. And soft leather gloves lined with cashmere are now only 17.50 from 24.50.
At Next - stores in Princes Street, St James and The Gyle - the sale is renowned and there's up to 50 per cent off winter lines. Bag a black and white striped jacket for 34.99 and matching trousers for 16.99, an argyle-pattern zip-through sweater for 13.49, or a girls' hooded long cable cardigan for as little as 9.49.
There's also up to 70 per cent off womenswear at Debenhams, with some John Rocha clothing starting at only 1. A military coat by Rocha is yours for half price at 60, and a Jasper Conran military coat costs only 40. And if you still haven't bought that Hogmanay glitzy dress, the Debut diamante buckle dress is now 45, from 90.
In menswear, a Jasper Conran cashmere overcoat is down from 250 to 150 while the designer's cashmere-blend suit is reduced from 400 to 200, and Levi's jeans are half price at 25. And in childrenswear, Conran's faux shearling coat is down from 50 to 15.
Jenners is also slashing prices and its famous sale has up to 50 per cent off winter stock. The best bargains this year are to be found in the Designer Room, Cookshop and childrenswear, with designer cashmere down from over 200 to under 100.
And get stylish for less at Warehouse with 50 per cent off many fashions. The popular teal embellished dress was 70, now 35; the red hussar jacket is reduced from 70 to 35; and the brown satin turn-up shorts are now only 17.50.
IN Harvey Nichols some of the store's most covetable clothes have been slashed in price, meaning more shoppers can buy into designer brands, with up to 60 per cent off.
The famous Chloe black beaded waistcoat, worn by Kate Moss, has been halved in price and is now 380; the Alexander McQueen black mohair chunky knit is down from 425 to 210. The Stella red bubble dress is half price at 395; Gucci's blue cap sleeve dress is reduced from 1930 to 965; and the Missoni long-sleeve wrap dress is down from 835 to 501.
Men's clothing is also down in price: Galliano suits were 1370, now 959; a Paul Smith blazer with wool satin tape is now only 350; and the DSquared casual jacket in washed leather is down from 610 to 427.
At Jane Davidson in Thistle Street everything has from 40 to 70 per cent off. A La Perla sheep shearling is down from 1089 to 652; Diane von Furstenberg dress, from 299 to 180; NPO cashmere, from 195 to 117; Missoni knitted coat, from 699 to 420; and La Perla selected bras, 129 to 35.
At lingerie boutique Boudiche in Frederick Street there's up to 50 per cent off - and all sale goods are sorted by size to make shopping hassle-free.
Mimi Holiday bra and knicker sets are reduced from 78 to 50, Elle Macpherson sets are down to 30, Maisie and Lilly black and white frill pyjamas are reduced from 99 to 59, and Fifi Chachnil knickers are down from 55 to 27, Fleur T Starlet bra and knicker sets are reduced from 120 to 60, and Rigby and Peller larger cup sizes are down from 65 to 45.
Shoes and bags
AGAIN at Harvey Nichols Chloe platform T-bar strap sandals are reduced from 340 to 204; Marc Jacobs knee-high ruffle boots, from 430 to 258; and Dries van Noten glitter patent leather boots from 415 to 249. The Chloe beaded clutch bag is down from 530 to 318 and Balenciaga's mini arena shoulder bag from 385 to 231.
At John Lewis, DKNY, Fiorelli, Longchamp and Radley handbags have 30 per cent off selected lines; the popular JFW Lenny bag is reduced from 130 to 65.
Head to Debenhams and pick up a J by Jasper Conran gathered fliplock bag, reduced from 75 to 40. There's the Butterfly by Matthew Williamson Magpie velvet brooch bag, down from 55 to 27.50, and the John Rocha shearling bag, down from 45 to 22.50. And the store's range of shoes and boots by Faith are slashed in price, with leather pointed boots reduced from 75 to 35.
But for lust-after shoes and accessories make Cruise in Castle Street the sale destination, with 40 per cent off many designer names. The Luella large Giselle bag in red is reduced from 500 to 350, and the Gucci Logo knee-high boots in camel suede are down from 465 to 295.
THERE are bargains to be had for the home too. At John Lewis, Egyptian cotton bath towels are down to 11, while fitted percale cotton bed sheets start at 14. In the china and glass department Denby's Signature and Drama collection has 50 per cent off; LSA trumpet lustre glasses are also half price and champagne flutes are down to 14.50.
Wedgwood is offering up to 50 per cent off its tableware so head to Jenners and John Lewis where the Night and Day, Colosseum, Nantucket, Strawberry and Vine, Nature and Minimal ranges all have 50 per cent off. All Wedgwood cutlery and table accessories also have 25 per cent off, while the Jasper Conran white tableware is now on a four-for-three offer.
For modern furniture head to DFS where there's a double discount sale and three years' interest free credit on all purchases. Purchases are also free for a year so there are no deposits or payments, and there's free delivery if you live within 50 miles of the store.
The Miami red leather sofa was 1197, now 697; the brown leather Chakra corner sofa unit was 4295, now 2295; and the textured Melinda sofa with back cushions is down from 1248 to 698.
Sterling is offering up to 50 per cent off on bedroom, dining room and living room furniture and accessories. The Italian Classic Venezia leather suite is down from 1699 to 999, and the black and chrome Sam dining set with a glass circular table is reduced from 599 to 399.
And save up to 50 per cent in the Debenhams Home sale. There's 400 off a solid oak dining table with four chairs, making it just 399; a black leather chair and matching footstool are only 149; and a Denby Azure Coast 16-piece box set is down from 206 to 154.50.
GET a literary bargain at Waterstone's with 50 per cent off over 500 titles, with bestsellers including Jamie Oliver's Jamie's Italy and Gloria Hunniford's Next to You, slashed in price.
Food lovers can grab a bargain with Tessa Kiros' Falling Cloudberries down to 12.50, Floyd's China by Keith Floyd down to 8.49, or The Lea and Perrin's Cookbook, reduced to 3.99.
Looking for help and advice on how to stick to those New Year, New You resolutions? Change your look with Mireille Guiliano's Why French Women don't Get Fat for only 6; change your house with Albert Jackson's Complete Collins DIY Manual, down to 12.50; or sort out your love life with Jane Austen's Guide to Dating by Lauren Henderson, reduced to 4.99. And for those in need of a laugh Little Britain, the Complete Scripts Series One is available for 7.49.
Kids will also want the Classic Library Station Box of Thomas the Tank Engine by the Rev W Awdry, reduced from 130 to 65.
Do's and don'ts
TO avoid any impulse buys, where the price overrules your sense, fashion expert Alison Melton at Cruise gives her top tips to ensure that sale purchases are stylish.
Allow yourself plenty of time to shop - don't rush in for a quick look on your lunch break
Get in on the first few days, or you might not get your size
Try it on before you buy - it's not a bargain if it doesn't fit
Invest in timeless pieces. Wardrobe staples like a cashmere coat, black trousers or black boots will carry you through from season to season
Buy that designer leather bag you've been coveting - it will last you a lifetime
Experiment with colour - sale time offers the perfect opportunity to try a fashionable shade
Splurge on your favourite designer - if you love it, then it's worth the investment