Money: Retail survival tips to help you shop with confidence this Christmas

CHRISTMAS is coming – but it seems many shoppers have pressed pause on their spending.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) and KPMG recently found the “golden quarter” – the all-important final three months of the year for retailers when customers splash out for Christmas – has got off to a fairly flat start so far.

The report said consumers were waiting for their pick of the sales to splash out.

It’s easy to get carried away in the frenzy as retailers slash their prices. So if you’re worried about your wallet, here are some handy Christmas shopping survival tips from James Walker, founder of consumer help website Resolver:

Be a cynic

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 that items often sell for less than this all year round. Some websites also have price comparisons, if you search for particular items.

Stick to your masterplan

Beware buying stuff you might not actually need. Think about items you might actually want to buy – either as gifts, replacing items that are nearing the end of their useful lives, or a one-off luxury purchase that you’ve really wanted. Don’t be tempted to deviate.

It doesn’t matter if you’re convinced you can beat the techniques retailers use to get you to cough up your hard-earned cash. There’s a huge amount of research and planning employed by retailers to get to your impulse buy. Ticking clock timers, glossy images, discounted prices, item offers “expiring” – they’ve thought of it all.

Don’t be careless with credit cards

Don’t think of these credit sources as “free money”. Think of them as bills outstanding. So if you spend £1,000, you’ll need to allow for paying that off each month. Imagine what that will cost over a year and see if it fits your budget.

Check your right to return goods

Contrary to what you may be told, you do have rights to return sale items if they turn out to be faulty. If you’re receiving goods in the post which you may be putting to one side as Christmas presents, always open the delivery box when you receive it and check the items.

Check delivery charges

Some firms offer assembly services for big items too but you may get a local handyman to do the job much cheaper.

Update your home insurance

Burglars often use the Christmas period as an opportunity to strike as they know households are stocking up on goodies.

Don’t be fobbed off

Tread carefully with firms if something doesn’t turn out to be as expected – or doesn’t turn up at all. Consumer rights expert Martyn James says: “When you enter in to an agreement with a retailer, your contract is with them,” adding that retailers should sort out delivery-related problems. He suggests asking for proof of delivery if you’re being charged for goods that were never received.