As Christmas draws closer, retailers are gearing up for huge shopping bonanzas, with dramatic price reductions, grab-it-or-miss-it offers and ticking countdown clocks all designed to make you spend, spend, spend.
Black Friday falls later this week, with Cyber Monday following on December 2. Here are some top tips for savvy sales shopping, and sticking to your intended budget…
Look out for bargains
Thought Black Friday only lasted one day? Many stores will be slashing their prices over the next few days. Online, Amazon’s Black Friday sale runs all week.
To keep up to date about stores’ sales and discount codes, you may also want to sign up for newsletter emails. You could set up a separate email account to receive these to stop them clogging up your regular inbox.
Check the returns policy
Martyn James, spokesman for consumer help website Resolver, says: “You have a number of statutory rights when it comes to returning wonky goods or services. But if you just want to change something or return it you will need to refer to the guide on the retailer’s site.”
Ask for a gift receipt at the till, so the recipient can take the item back if need be.
And, if you’re buying gifts for Christmas, open the box carefully now to check everything’s correct – rather than waiting until the big day.
Be a cynic
The rules covering sales can be broad, so if you see something that looks like a bargain, go to the manufacturer’s website and look at the recommended retail price. Bear in mind items often sell for less than this all year round. Some websites offer price comparisons.
Check the delivery charges
Martyn says: “If you’re buying big items, make sure you’ve checked to see if there will be a delivery charge.”
Costs can quickly add up if you are buying items from overseas – so what initially looks like a “bargain” could become much more expensive.
Focus on the real deals
When you’re being bombarded with messages about “great offers”, it can be hard to stay focused on what’s really a great deal. The prices of gadgets such as TVs, tablets, laptops, kitchen accessories, games consoles and smart home devices often plunge around Black Friday.
Money.co.uk says the steepest discounts on TVs can often be found on the more “mid-range” options. But the website also cautions against splashing out just because there’s a big discount. While now could be a great time to upgrade your old tech, if you’re existing gadgets are still working well, it’s probably more cost effective to stick with what you’ve got.
Use plastic wisely
It can be tempting to ramp up your credit card spending – but beware a debt hangover you could be paying off well into 2020.
Credit checking service ClearScore, which analysed the spending of its eight million users, found that among those with a credit card, the average final balance by the end of 2018 was £3,600 after festive spending.
Switching to a card with an introductory rate of 0% on purchases could help you avoid interest on your Black Friday spending.
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