The British Retail Consortium has revealed that growth in UK retail sales was lower than inflation last month, indicating that shoppers are cutting purchases in the lead-up to Christmas this year.
Retail spending rose by 2.7% in November, behind the 12-month average of 4.1%, despite the lead-up to the busiest shopping period of the year. This year, the financial burden of Christmas gift-giving is feeling even more overwhelming, with the cost of living crisis impacting millions of people across the country.
However, when it comes to gifting during the festive season, there are ways to shop more efficiently to cut the overall cost and avoid breaking the bank. Thankfully, Nick Drewe, Discounts Expert at online coupon platform, Wethrift, has shared his expert tips for saving money on your Christmas wish list this year.
1. Planning & budgeting
Ensuring that you have a plan in place is the first step to shopping more efficiently and cost-effectively this Christmas. Plan out exactly who you are buying for and set yourself a strict budget. If you are planning on purchasing gifts for a large number of people, keeping track of your spending to ensure you’re staying within budget is always a good idea.
You can set up a spreadsheet document to track how much you’ve spent and who you have bought gifts for already. Or alternatively, there are many free budgeting apps available to download, which you can use to keep track of your expenditure. If you bank with Monzo, Starling Bank, or Revolut, these are great for setting spending budgets and receiving notifications to keep track of your outgoings over the festive period.
2. Look out for deals and discounts
When searching for gift inspiration this year, keep a regular eye on Amazon’s Today’s Deals page, showing the discounted products that are on offer for that day. Many of the best early deals by the retail giant can be found on this section of the website.
Also take the time to manually search for retailer’s discount codes online before making a purchase, but ensure you are being strategic with which discount codes will give you the highest savings. For example, when making a large purchase, a 10% off discount code will likely save more than £10 off discount code.
3. Be wary of misleading Christmas deals
Savvy shoppers should be vigilant when it comes to deals and discounts, and not everything is always as it seems. Many brands and retailers will temporarily increase the price of their products, and then decrease them back to their original price, advertised as a price drop.
Fortunately, there are price tracking sites such as PriceSpy which can be used to check the price history of an item to see whether you are really getting a deal or not.
4. Leave items in your basket
Leaving items in your basket will often trigger an abandoned basket email after a certain period. This is done by retailers to encourage you to go through to the next step of the purchase journey, and more often than not, they will attempt to incentivise the purchase by offering a discounted price.
5. Buy after Christmas!
If you’re not seeing friends or family until after Christmas, wait until after the big day to purchase their Christmas gifts. By doing this, you can capitalise on Boxing Day deals and January sales, where many products are discounted. This also allows you to save on expensive postage fees by waiting until you see your loved ones in person.
6. Use your loyalty points
Making the most of your unused loyalty points is a great way to save money on your Christmas shopping this year. Whether it’s your Tesco Club card, or loyalty points with John Lewis, look into how many loyalty points you have for your favourite retailers, and cash them in when purchasing your Christmas gifts this year.
7. Use your unused gift cards
Like many of us, you have probably been given a gift card that you haven’t got around to using, or for a retailer that you wouldn’t shop at for yourself. To save on spending this year, double check to see if any of your unused gift cards are still valid. If so, why not use them to purchase a gift for someone else rather than leaving them to go to waste?
8. Be strategic with delivery
When it comes to online shopping and e-commerce, the convenience of delivery is a huge positive. However, during the festive season when purchasing multiple items, the delivery costs can rapidly start to mount up. This is why it is best to pre-plan and be organised with your online Christmas shopping. If you can order multiple presents from one retailer in one go, and pay only one delivery fee, this is a great way to keep costs down.
Again, organisation is key, so be sure not to leave shopping to the last minute. This helps to avoid paying for expensive express delivery, so that they arrive in time for Christmas day. Look into delivery plan options. For example, it may be more cost-effective to pay on a subscription-based fee for premium delivery (such as Amazon Prime) rather than paying each time.
It is often worth adding an extra low-value item or two in order to get free delivery. Signing up for premium subscriptions such Asos, Amazon and more will save you money in the long run as you get a year’s free next day delivery.
9. Buy pre-owned items
Around Christmas, there can be a lot of pressure to buy the latest products. However, there is nothing wrong with purchasing pre-owned toys, tech and fashion items to help cut the costs. See if your gifts can be purchased second-hand or from resale sites – not only can this benefit your bank account, but it’s also a much more sustainable way of gift-giving this Christmas.
10. Group gifting
If you are feeling the pressure of the cost of Christmas shopping this year, don’t worry, you’re not alone. It’s likely a lot of the people closest to you will also be feeling the pinch this year and will be thinking about how they can do their shopping more cost-efficiently.
Liaise among your friends and family on what you are thinking about buying. Group together where you can and all contribute to a group gift, rather than all spending large quantities of money on multiple presents. More often than not, a thoughtful, sentimental gift can be much more appreciated than receiving multiple expensive presents under the tree.