BAGGING A BARGAIN: Young and old, rich and poor are flocking to car boot sales for a cut-price deal. xec uk 270409 35 02
NO matter how much the high street stores slash their prices, you can't beat a boot sale bargain.
With the recession biting, more and more bargain-hunters are heading for the budget marketplaces, keen to save a quick buck.
No longer packed with food-stained babygrows and Russian dolls, car boot sales have become the happy hunting ground of savvy sellers and shrewd shoppers.
And with videos for less than a pound, racks of decent clothes for well under a fiver and the promise of maybe one day finding that fantastic Antiques Roadshow-style money maker, who can blame them?
Steve Flack, from Romford, has operated the boot sale at Barleylands in Billericay for more than 20 years and says he has seen a rise in the number of both buyers and sellers.
"We started early in the season and it has just built up and up – there's a lot more people," he said.
"There's no doubt about it, the credit crunch is hitting – there are definitely more people coming to buy."
Steve also reckons the nature of sellers was changing, with more and more people piling their booty into cars and heading for the boot sales, instead of the tip.
"Over the last two or three years there has been an increase in people selling new goods, but last week there were only about four stalls doing that – the rest were bric-a-brac," he said.
"People have got to pay their bills, or get a bit of money for a holiday, so you can't blame them really."
At the first Marillac car boot sale earlier this month, hundreds of people strolled round the stalls, picking up the occasional bargain and enjoying the spring sunshine.
While chairman of the Marillac League of Friends, Eamonn Brennan, hopes more people will head to the boot sales because of the credit-crunch, he said for their customers, it was often little to do with commercial gain.
"This isn't bad for the first sale of the season – it's a reasonable turnout," he said.
"But I think this is popular because it's a good cause and people want to support the Marillac, we have quite a lot of friends and it's non-commercial – we are all volunteers and every penny goes to the Marillac."
Justine Webb, who runs the Orsett car boot sale, claimed they were more dependant on the weather climate than the economic climate, but encouraged people to give boot sales a try.
"If people are feeling the pinch, I would say they have got to come along and have a browse around – the second-hand clothes are very, very popular."
The Marillac will be holding car boot sales on May 16, June 20, July 18, August 15 and September 12 . They begin at 7am, and run until around 1pm.
Barleylands' sales are held at the activity centre every Sunday and bank holiday Monday, with pitches costing £7 and admission just 30p. Buyers can enter between 10am and 3pm.
The Orsett car boot sales take place on the A128 Brentwood Road, just off the Orsett Cock roundabout, on Sundays and bank holiday Mondays, costing £6 for cars, £8 for vans and a 30p entrance fee for visitors. Sellers can turn up from 6am.