Don’t believe the hype!
In the UK there’s a lot of hype about the savings to be had during special sales events that have entered our shopping calendar.
You’ll find long queues, general chaos and websites crashing during the Boxing Day and January sales, while in recent years Amazon Prime Day, Black Friday and even Cyber Monday have whipped shoppers into a frenzy.
On Black Friday last year, a record-breaking £810 million worth of goods were sold, making it the biggest sales event of the year in the UK.
Retailers hype these events as not to be missed savings, but according to data from Love the Sales retailers typically put 10-15% of stock on sale all year round.
The data shows that the number of products on sale during Black Friday, which reached 240,000 items, was in fact below the average typically on sale throughout the year of 255,000. Looking at the figures the ‘peak sales’ day was recorded in July, when 380,000 items were discounted.
Retailers carefully plan for these big shopping events, which means deals have been specially crafted and calculated to grab our attention and make us spend.
So don’t be duped and spend frivolously, use our tips to save throughout the year.
Track price drops and sales
Price tracking tools can help you be the first to know about great savings on the things you want.
The site allows you to download a toolbar button that lets you add items to a watchlist as you browse the web, set a price you wish to pay for it and create an alert to let you know when the item is reduced. You can also select brands you want to monitor for sales events and add this to your dashboard.
Amazon fans will find CamelCamelCamel and ZeeZaw handy as both are dedicated to tracking Amazon prices. They allow you to enter the maximum price you are willing to pay for an item and you get an alert when it hits this target, or goes even lower.
Read 15 sneaky ways to save money at Amazon for more tips.
Meanwhile Love the Sales pulls sales from across the web into one place so you can know at a glance where to go find cheaper deals. So if you are just after a bargain it’s a good one to have bookmarked.
Save with cashback websites
You just go to your chosen cashback site, and then follow their tracked links over to the retailer you want to shop with. You then get a percentage of that spending back. For example at the moment you can get 13% cashback at The Body Shop via Quidco.
It’s easy to forget cashback when shopping online, but both Quidco and TopCashback have a toolbar tool which you can download that pops up to let you know when there is a chance to earn as you browse and shop online.
Use a cashback credit card
You can make money as you spend with a cashback credit card.
The American Express Platinum Everyday Cashback Credit Card for example pays 5% cashback on the first £2,000 you spend in your initial three months with the card, and up to 1.25% cashback thereafter.
To see how it compares, check out The best cashback credit cards.
Check for voucher codes
As well as cashback, you should always double check to see if there is a voucher code that can help you save money or get free delivery before making a purchase online.
The members of HotUK Deals are also good at spotting special vouchers too.
You find something that you want to buy, whether online or in person. But before you hand over your credit or debit card, take a step back and see if you can get it cheaper elsewhere.
Check what other retailers are selling it for, whether you can earn cashback or if there are any discount codes that could make the purchase even cheaper.
And don’t limit yourself to the UK; you might be able to make savings by shopping online on US or European sites. Amazon’s European sites for example can be a lot cheaper than Amazon UK.
Ask for a better offer
Flubit specifically tries to beat Amazon’s prices. You just need to copy and paste the link and it will try and create a better offer for the same item. The site claims to save users between 10-15% generally.
With Beat My Deal you can take the deal you’ve found online and upload it to the site to invite other retailers to try to beat it with a better price or deal sweeteners like extras, delivery or warranty guarantees.
They are free to use and you aren’t committed to buy anything so they’re worth giving a try.
Take advantage of loyalty schemes
You should sign up to loyalty schemes offered by your favourite retailers to collect points that you can turn into savings.
With Tesco Clubcard for example you can earn one point for every £1 you spend and every 250 points gets you £2.50 worth of vouchers. At the moment you can double the value of vouchers in the Christmas Clubcard Boost event.
Take a look at The top loyalty schemes for shoppers for more and see how they stack up in Nectar, Clubcard, Advantage, SPARKS: which is the best loyalty scheme?
For lesser known schemes take a look at Money saving loyalty cards you may not have heard of.
Sign up to newsletters
Companies are eager to have you on their mailing lists so often offer money off your next order for signing up to their newsletter.
As well as a one-off bonus you will also be the first to know about new arrivals, special offers, store events and upcoming sales.
If you’re worried about your inbox getting clogged up with newsletters, you could create a separate address dedicated to emails like this.
Time purchases right
A recent Which? study found the best time of year for discounts on pricey goods.
According to the study February was a prime time to grab a bargain on end-of-line appliances like washing machines, fridge freezers and dishwashers, while June was a good month to pick up a new TV.
Read Cars, electronics, TV, computers: the best months to bag a bargain for the full rundown.
Ditch your online shopping
Another savvy trick when shopping online is to sign in, add items to your basket but leave the site without purchasing anything and wait a few days.
Some retailers will offer you incentives to come back and complete the sale. New Look for example has been reported to offer discounts of up to 20%.
Use student discounts
If you are a student make sure you aren’t paying more than you have to.
Lots of retailers offer student discounts online and in-store. Most of the time you will need a valid NUS card, which costs £12 a year.