Uncover the secret Xmas shopping discounts
Major retailers are using Twitter and specialist online voucher sites to distribute money-off deals you won't find on the high street. We reveal where you can find them and uncover the best deals for Christmas.
It's no wonder that this year, like last year, many of us are opting to shop online and avoid the Christmas crowds - thanks to low overheads and tax exemptions, internet retailers can offer price reductions far larger than those available on the high street.
But what you may not be aware of is that many major retailers are moving their marketing efforts online and teaming up with voucher websites, cashback operations - and even Facebook and Twitter - with massive reductions for those savvy consumers who take advantage of these hard-to-find deals.
We show you where to find the best money-off deals can be found.
1) Voucher code websites
Voucher code sites work by advertising deals and discounts from high street retailers and online shopping sites, which can be picked up by entering a special e-code online. The voucher code company makes its money by taking a small commission from each sale made using their voucher, while the retailer looks to boost its profits by getting us to spend more once we're online or inside their store.
These sites are legitimate, safe and supported by most of the UK's biggest retailers. The only downside is that you may get more emails than you'd like once you sign up for one. Some sites worth checking out include: Myvouchercodes.co.uk: Vouchercodes.co.uk and Discountshoppinguk.co.uk.
2) Cashback websites
Those of us with cashback credit cards are rewarded with cash payouts each time we spend - but you don't need to apply for new plastic to earn on your Christmas shopping. Signing up with a cashback website could help you save as much as £30 on a typical £500 festive outlay.
These sites work in a similar way to voucher sites. You first sign up with the cashback website of your choice and use that website as a gateway to visit the participating retail sites. What you spend is tracked and your account is credited in cash, equivalent to a small percentage of your total spend, typically between 4% and 10%. The sum is usually paid between 60 and 90 days.
Among the leading players in the field are Quidco.com and TopCashBack.co.uk.And the participating retailers are some of the biggest names around, including Marks & Spencer, Argos, Debenhams, Waterstones, Next, Boots and Toys R Us.
For more on the best cashback websites around, check out How to be a cashback king!
3) Twitter and Facebook
Retailers have been slow to note the explosion in social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter but in the run-up to Christmas many of our high street giants have logged on to pass on discounts direct to consumers and tempt us into bigger spending sprees.
Micro-blogging service Twitter has seen a significant take-up. Retailers such as Marks & Spencer, Debenhams and Sainsbury's have all got into the habit of sending 140 character messages direct to consumers outlining many great and exclusive deals. These offers tend to be worthwhile but are also typically 'one day only' deals - so you need to move fast if you want to take advantage.
Retail giants are also increasingly using Facebook to reach out to consumers. M&S uses its Facebook page to advertise its 'offer of the day', while other outlets with a Facebook presence include Starbucks and Amazon.
4) Get Frugal Friday from lovemoney.com
Every Friday lunchtime you can get the best bargains around delivered directly to your inbox, via our Frugal Friday and Frugal Food blogs. You'll get everything from money-off deals at retailers, to bargain offers at restaurants and supermarkets. Be sure to sign up for the emails, or just visit the blogs every Friday!
This is a lovemoney.com classic article which has been updated.