It’s begun. The deluge of festive advertising and the chaos on the high street all means one thing; Christmas shopping season is in earnest.
Jostling crowds, hearing “It’s Chriiiiiiiistmaaaaaaas” 17-times a day, expensive coffees and mince pies to warm up mid-shop – the works.
Personally, I can’t stand it. So now almost all of my shopping is carried out online.
But even above the horrors of the festive crowds and seasonal songs, the main reason for shopping online is the money you can save with the right know-how.
So here’s how to save the most money when Christmas shopping online.
[Related link: Full Christmas guide]
Although it’s still early days for this website, it has really impressed me. Visitors paste a link to the product they are going to buy and Flubit then creates a cheaper deal for them.
It’s not a comparison site, it doesn’t simply search the web for a cheaper option - you could do that yourself. No, instead Flubit.com contacts other retailers and invites them to make you a better offer so that they get your business instead.
You could say the website haggles on your behalf. You’re also not under any obligation to buy through Flubit.com if you don’t like the deal they find.
So far, the site is getting very favourable reviews, with many people reporting savings of as much as 15%.
The later you leave your Christmas shopping, the more flustered you’ll be. Start shopping now so that you have time to find the best prices and choose presents your family will really value.
Also, ordering early can help you avoid higher postage charges, as you won’t need special delivery to get it on time.
Delivery costs can really mount up and you may find it’s worth ordering a slightly more expensive item from the same site as another purchase, in order to combine delivery costs.
If you know that a friend is making a big order from the same retailer, consider placing your order together to halve the delivery charge.
Also, if you think you’ve found the best price, make sure you factor in the delivery costs. An item might be slightly more expensive on one website, but cheaper once you include that cost. Don’t be afraid to cancel something late in the order process once the delivery costs are revealed.
Before making any online purchase, I always have a quick browse to see if I can spot a money-off voucher or a code offering free delivery.
It takes just a moment but has often saved me more than a fiver.
Spend loyalty points
If you’ve been collecting retailer loyalty points then now is the time to spend them.
Most supermarkets allow you to spend your points on groceries, which can ease the cost of Christmas dinner. However, some allow you to shop online for gifts with their vouchers and actually increase their value if you do so.
For example, Tesco gives Clubcard holders one point for every pound spent and 100 points are worth £1. But, if you use your points to buy presents through its rewards website, you can quadruple the rewards.
Right now, you can exchange £10 in Clubcard vouchers for £40 of Goldsmiths tokens. You can also double the value of your vouchers in the supermarket’s voucher exchange, as long as you do so by the 5th of December and spend them by the 13th December.
These vouchers can then be spent on toys, clothes and on products listed in the Tesco Direct catalogue.
Give a gift and give something back
In the orgy of consumerism that is Christmas, it’s refreshing to buy gifts and cards that make a difference to a good cause rather than a giant corporation.
That’s why the Give More campaign has published a ‘Give Guide’ to help shoppers support charities. And that doesn’t necessarily mean spending more.
For example, instead of spending £3.50 on festive wrapping paper from Paperchase, you could pay £1.49 to a charity for its own wrapping.
Or instead of £42.99 for a dozen roses from Interflora, you could spend £25.99 for a dozen roses from Charity Flowers.
You could also consider using the website GiveOrTake.com which gives you cashback on your shopping, such as 4% on Boots orders. You then have a choice of whether to donate that money to a good cause, or simply pocket it.
Find the best Amazon discounts
Amazon is a popular place to buy presents, but how do you know you’re getting its best price?
The website Camelcamelcamel is an Amazon price tracker, offering price drop alerts and price histories for products sold through the site.
You can even tell it how much you’re willing to pay for a product and it will let you know if the seller drops the price.
Don’t assume a website is always cheapest
I usually think that Amazon will be cheaper than the big shops, but this isn’t always the case. For example, I wanted to purchase the Animal Alley Sam Puppy Vet Kit, priced £17.99 at Toys R Us. However, Amazon charges £29.79.
Even if you order the toy online from Toys R Us, the delivery charge is just £4.95 (free if you spend over £50), so you’re still saving money.
Are you shopping online or on the high street? Or at all? Share your opinions and tips with other readers in the comments below.