How to survive the pre-Christmas sales

How to survive the pre-Christmas sales

You used to have to wait for Boxing Day to start getting stuck into the sales, but now you can’t move for stores discounting in the run-up to Christmas. Even specific sale days, like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, now usually go on for a week.

While it can be tempting to see these as a way of saving money, if you don’t know what you’re doing, you can end up spending a lot more than you expected and get a bad deal.

But what can you do to make sure you get the best price and avoid overspending in the sales?

Make a list

We’re getting closer to Christmas now, so perhaps you’ve bought a few presents already. But when you’re shopping online, it’s so easy to get caught up in flash sales and time-limited offers and totally forget who you’ve bought for or get tempted to buy things for yourself.

So, make a list, tick people off as you go and avoid splashing out on yourself too much.

Set a price

How much money have you got to spend on Christmas presents this year? Well once you’ve figured this out, you’ll have a good idea how much you can afford to spend on each person.

This is a vital step in helping you stay in budget.

What’s a good price?

The biggest problem with these ongoing sales before Christmas is it makes it really difficult to know whether or not you’re getting a good deal. So how can you figure out if you’re actually bagging a bargain?

First, do a bit of research to find out what the price of something you’re looking at in the salesis has been over the past year. Often and particularly with online retailers, the prices might be marked at 50%off, but is actually roughly the same price it is the rest of the year.

The best way to find out if you’re getting a good deal is to check it using some price tracking websites.

Idealo compares prices across many online and high street retailers like Boots, Argos, Amazon, John Lewis and eBay. It’ll also show you the cost of postage, which is always something you should factor into your budget. Idealo allows you to set up email alerts for price drops too. We found it best for toys and tech.

CamelCamelCamel is a simple price tracker for Amazon. You can see the price history for products, and get alerts via email for when an item reaches a certain % off, or your desired price.  CamelCamelCamel is best for books or for those with Prime membership

Stay safe online

More and more people are choosing to do their Christmas shopping online every year. While this might be convenient and could help you avoid the crowds at the local shopping centre, you do have to be careful.

First, only buy from online stores you know and trust. If you’re not sure if a website is the real deal, check out an independent review site like TrustPilot.

Doing your research will also help you avoid counterfeit goods. Find out how much a product would normally cost, which will give you an idea of when an offer is too good to be true. Some brands will have a list of official stockists on their own site, it could be worth your while to check.

You also need to be careful if you’re shopping online using public Wi-Fi, like in a coffee shop or shopping centre. Public Wi-Fi is often unsecure, so the information you send, including payment details can be accessed by fraudsters. Your ordinary mobile data is more secure than public Wi-Fi.

You can also help protect yourself, by making sure your software and anti-virus is up-to-date on your smartphone.

Keep your receipts

Hopefully you’re stayed safe online this Christmas and bagged a few bargains. But just in case you haven’t, make sure you keep hold of your receipts so you can return things you don’t want.

The rules on returning things do vary a lot, and just because you’ve changed your mind, doesn’t mean you can necessarily just take it back and get a refund. So, make sure you read up on what consumer rights you can expect first.

This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.