Shopping centres can be stressful at the best of times, but at Christmas, the crowds grow even bigger and the queues even more irritable. For those of us not equipped with the patience or stamina to handle the festive retail rush, what should be a pleasant day of finding presents guaranteed to put a smile on your family’s faces can quickly descend into chaos. Online Christmas shopping is the perfect alternative.
You don’t have to worry about getting someone to look after the kids, there’s no risk of doing your back in dragging overfilled carrier bags around for hours on end, and – best of all – you can do it all sat on the sofa in your PJs, hot chocolate in hand and Home Alone playing in the background.
Here are our top tips for saving money online. Bear them in mind and you’ll be ticking off your Xmas prezzie to-buy list in record time.
#1: finding discount alternatives
If you happen to miss out on sales, don’t panic – discount online retailers are always there to save the day. From the best perfumes for women to luxury underwear sets, with some patient Googling, you’ll be able to find most of the family’s high-street favourites for a fraction of their usual price.
#2: keeping a track of budget
Sticking to a strict budget is tougher when you’re not dealing in actual cash, but it isn’t impossible. You just need to be organised and aware of how much money is actually disappearing out of your account with each transaction. Keep a record of everything you spend, either by using an app or going old-school with a pen and paper, and remember to include delivery charges – they’ll add up much quicker than you realise.
#3: getting everything on time
Delivery times and wait periods can be changeable during the festive run-up, so make sure you double check the small print before placing an order online. Amazon can be particularly tricky since sellers aren’t always based in the UK. Look out for extra charges and estimated delivery dates – if there’s no guarantee your order will arrive in time you may be better looking elsewhere.
#4: taking advantage of sales
Securing the best deal no longer requires hours of legwork. Online you can quickly compare costs from different providers and take advantages of the same special offers you’d find in store. Black Friday, the cut-price and cutthroat sale we’ve adopted straight from the US in recent years, is the perfect example. Followed closely by Cyber Monday, it’s the best time to get higher priced electrical goods for a bargain.
#5: staying safe
Scams and thefts are a big risk when doing your online Christmas shopping, so being aware of at least the basics of cyber security is of the utmost importance. There are lots of ways of protecting yourself, but you can start by only buying from sites you trust, being careful with any email offers, and checking there’s a padlock sign somewhere on screen before uploading your card details.
So no matter what your family want for this year you can do your online Christmas shopping safe in the knowledge that you have everything under control and you didn’t even have to leave the house!