Shopping online

29/03/2020

Shopping online has become increasingly popular in recent years. We've been shopping online for years. In these times, it is an essential service, and can help keep some form of normality.

Many high street shops offer online shopping, and continue to do so. Some stores offer a 'click and collect' service, where you select your items online, and then collect them in store. However, we're finding some of the items we used to get online are not so easy to source now, shops are struggling to keep track of their stocks, and even for seasoned online shoppers it can be challenging. 

We love shopping online, because it is easy to source items, and you can compare prices. There are even price comparison sites that help you find an item at the best price. (For example, PriceRunner) You can also sign up for voucher sites, which provide you with more discounts!

Social networking groups are a great source of information, and many of them have a forum where you can ask where to get something, so if you need something, it's a possible source. However, some people are very judgmental of  these requests. We believe that in terms of mental health, keeping things as normal as possible is good. 

Tips

  • try to use the same store as usual, as you will be more familiar with their products.
  • if you have a reward card, you can enter the details, and add your usual items to your 'favourites' - this makes shopping quicker and easier.
  • Check for slots at different times of the day.
  • Stick with recognized companies, to keep yourself safe, and read our tips for staying safe online.
  • If you can't get a delivery, try click and collect, so all you have to do is pick up your shopping, not walk around the store.
  • Check the small print, to make sure you're buying the right quantity, size, quality etc. Pictures can be misleading!
  • Keep an eye on delivery costs - they can be expensive!
  • Check delivery times - the items come from anywhere in the world, and may take a while to arrive.

Groceries

Supermarkets are starting to stabilize their stocks, and are making more delivery slots available. However, if you have not already been using their services, chances are you won't be able to, as most are not taking new customers. The situation is changing constantly, so you may want to check regularly. 

  • Most companies will offer a substitute for items they don't have in stock. You can usually select whether or not to allow this when you shop, but if they deliver something you don't want, you hand it back to the driver, and get a refund from the company. At this point in time, we'd highly recommend allowing substitutions.
  • you may need to keep trying to register or book a slot, to get what you need. Try more than one Supermarket, or look for local stores.

Some options are listed below. 

Sainsbury's are prioritizing over 70s, and vulnerable customers. Although they are not currently taking new customers, if you fall into the vulnerable category, you may still be able to register for online shopping, if you phone them. We do have a delivery account, and even with special access, are finding it difficult to get delivery slots. 

ASDA are allowing new registrations, and seem to have delivery slots available at present. 

Tesco are also allowing new registrations, but we couldn't find a delivery slot for our existing account. 

Morrisons are also taking new customers, but don't have any more slots today. 

Ocado are not registering new customers, and seem to have very few slots available

Marks and Spencer also seem to have slots and are taking customers. 

For fresh fruit and veg, there are often local companies that deliver a box of fresh foods, so it may be worth searching for one of them. (Make sure you read the reviews first though!) options you could consider are Fresh Direct; or Abel and Cole. We have never used these, so can not offer any comment. 

It may surprise you to know that Amazon sells groceries, so if you can't get what you need anywhere else, then it's worth trying Amazon. Amazon now sells such a huge range of products, they are generally our go-to site!

Hardware / household supplies

Lockdown may seem like  a great time to get to those jobs that have been waiting, or to do some home improvements. However, with the closure of Hardware stores, that may be a challenge. We've used most of these at one time or another, and have had good service. 

B&Q are now offering a limited 'click and collect' service, where you collect items the following day. We were looking for paint, which most couriers won't transport, but this is not included in the range of click and collect items that are available. 

Homebase are offering a delivery service, which appears to cover most of their products. 

Wickes are also offering deliveries, but checking this morning, there was a queue to enter the website!

Toolstation are offering a click and collect service that is almost instant - we ordered sitting in the car outside the shop, and picked up the stuff a few minutes later. 

Smaller, local stores that sell a range of goods may have supplies, and may not be online. 

Gardening

Spring means it's time to sort out the garden, if you're lucky enough to have one. But, with the closure of Garden centres, sourcing supplies is not easy. 

Many supermarkets and grocery stores also have a few plants, and these are a possible solution, along with the Hardware stores listed above. Amazon sell plants too. There are however a number of companies that offer plants online. We have never used them, but an online search showed these possibilities. Ideally, use Paypal, to ensure you protect your bank details. 

Entertainment

If you like your entertainment in digital forms, then you probably don't need this blog! Amazon and itunes sell digital films and music that you can download and keep. Netflix and Amazon Prime offer a wide range of films you can watch online on a subscription basis. Often, you can get a month's free trial, which may get you through the worst of the crisis!

if you prefer the physical disks, then try HMV, Amazon or Ebay

For toys and board games, try:

toysRus; bargainmaxAmazon or Ebay

Clothing

Clothing is one of the easiest things to buy online, and most stores offer returns if the item doesn't fit, or if you're not happy with it. Check the size guidelines carefully and you' re more likely to be happy with the fit. 

The search options usually allow you to search by size, colour, brand, and make it so much easier to find what you want, in your size! We've been buying clothing online for at least ten years, and love shopping this way. 

It's good to try your usual high street store first, and see if they do online deliveries - most do! There are also a number of catalogue stores that you can use. Some options to try are listed below: 

  • Amazon sells clothing, but be aware some of it is made in China, and their sizing is much smaller than UK sizing, so check size guidelines!
  • Asos are taking online orders.
  • Evans are running a 24/7 online store.
  • JD Williams offer a range of different catalogues and groups, and include Ambrose Wilson; Marisota; Fiftyplus; Shoe Taylor and Jacamo, among others. 
  • Kaleidoscope are another cataologue company, which includes LookAgain; Bon Prix; Curvissa etc
  • Littlewoods are another large catalogue store, and they sell a range of items, including home decoration to clothing.
  • Marks and Spencer are operating their clothing sales online, and their food halls are open. 
  • Matalan are taking online orders, although their deliveries are taking longer than usual. 
  • Next is currently closed, including online stores

Auction sites

Ebay is still the best known auction site, and they have very good protection for both sellers and buyers. You can use Paypal to receive and send payments on Ebay. Ebay offers a huge range of items, both new and used, and you can set up alerts for things you collect. 

TopHatter is relatively new, and has a wide range of items for sale. Some of their products are mass produced in China, and may not be the quality you expect. however, TopHatter are very good at offering refunds and returns for items that do not meet your satisfaction. 

It's amazing what you can buy online, and if you don't find what you're after in the lists above, then do a search, but check before you buy, and make sure you shop safely.

Happy shopping!!