With Christmas rapidly approaching, and lockdown still in place, Christmas shopping in an actual shop may be a rare event. Today's blog looks at some tips for shopping online.
Friday 27th of November is Black Friday, when retailers usually offer some great deals and sales. It's worth waiting to place your orders, as you may get a much better deal.
- Use Paypal or Google Pay where you can, and a separate bank account - this way should the worst happen, the amount that can be stolen is limited. Of course, using a debit / credit card also offers some protection too. Banks like Transferwise allow you to open an account online without needing to go into a branch.
- Buy from reputable traders, who offer customer protection, such as e-bay; amazon etc, or catalogue companies. If in doubt about a company, check their customer reviews.
Tips for shopping online
I've done the bulk of my shopping online for years, and I find it so much easier to find the item I want, and have it delivered to my doorstep.
- Keep an eye on delivery costs: delivery costs can rapidly increase the price of what you're ordering. If you like to order from Amazon, it's worth signing up for Amazon Prime (you can have 30 days free!) which gives you free, next day delivery on a wide range of items. Prime also gives you free music, videos, books and magazines, and is well worth its money.
- Check delivery dates: ordering online allows you to order items from anywhere in the world, so make sure that you check that it will arrive in time for when you need it.
- Check prices & Discounts: the internet allows you to find an item at the lowest price and buy it at the best price. This previous blog of ours looks at options for cashback (you get money back on what you buy) and sites that allow you to compare prices, and find discount vouchers for your orders.
- Order early, to ensure you have your items on time. Support local businesses if you can, and for those lost minute items, shop in local stores.
- Have a safe place to leave your stuff if you are out.
Places to shop
Some of our favourite places to shop online are these. If you're new to online shopping, perhaps try one or two retailers to start with, preferably the online versions of shops you already use:
- Ebay: ebay is an auction site, but there are a wide range of items you can 'buy now' and they sell both new and second hand items. You can often find really good deals on items on ebay. They also have a good system for dealing with complaints, and you will get your money back if an item is not as advertised. We often do 'nothing new for Christmas' with our friends, where gifts are hand made or second hand.
- Amazon sells almost anything, and it's not often that I can't find what I want on either Ebay or Amazon.
These companies are well established, and you can order a nice glossy catalogue to flip through, if you prefer. They offer a huge range of items, from everything you need for decorating your home for Christmas, through to gifts, clothing, household items. If you do buy on account, watch the credit charges, as the rates can be as high as those of credit cards.
- JD Williams Group: sell everything from gift items to homewares, decorations etc.
- Kaleidoscope (includes Lascana / Gifts365 / Look Again / Bon Prix / Curvissa / Clearance 365) sell a huge range of items. clothing, etc, as with the JD Williams Group. They offer 25% of your first account order with the code: T97P
- Argos will either deliver, or allow you to collect in store, whichever you prefer.
- Studio: unfortunately, they only sell through an account, so if you can't open an account, you can't buy from them, But, they have an amazing range of cards, crackers and Christmas gifts and decorations.
- Littlewoods is yet another option, and they sell a huge range of items.
There are plenty more, but in keeping with the ethos of this site, we generally only list those we have actually used.
- Snapfish and Vistaprint offer a huge range of items (mugs. mousemats, photobooks, cushion covers) that you can personalise with your own photos, and they have some great discount vouchers giving you some really good deals.
- Virgin Experience Days: offers a wide range of activities that people can enjoy, such as balloon rides; meals; cruises; spa days; driving experiences, and they do have procedures in place to make sure that vouchers won't expire before they can be safely used.
These can be a bit more hit and miss, but for a range of stocking fillers, and lovely items at rock bottom prices, try these auction sites:
Tophatter has a great range of costume jewelry, gimmicks and nifty items. A lot comes from China, so if you're ordering clothing, make sure you order larger sizes. Where items have not arrived, or I have not been happy with the quality, I have always received a refund.
Wish is a site we've recently started using. They have some amazing prices on items, but often the numbers available for sale are limited. Do watch out for their postage costs, and they can add up. However, if you want a range of items at unbeatable prices, they are a great option. This code: cnrtpkjy will give you £4 to spend on the site.
Food and drink
Again, place your orders as soon as you can, as delivery slots will be very limited. Plan to buy as much as you can ahead of time, to save queuing to get into shops, or not getting a delivery slot. In a previous blog, we gave links to all the major supermarkets who offer online delivery. Amazon pantry and Morrisons are also available from Amazon.