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There seem to be more retail sales than you can shake a stick at these days. However, while Black Friday or the summer sales can deliver some great discounts, it’s the New Year sales that often offer the most potential for savings. Many stores refresh their stock for the new year so it’s out with the old (at heavily discounted prices) and in with the new. Whether you’re looking for Christmas themed items to put away for next year, sports gear, technology, fashion or toys, the New Year sales are worth doing properly. So, how do you maximise the savings potential at this time of year?
Get up early. If you’re going to do your New Year sales shopping in-store then there’s just no substitute for being the first through the door. Discounts don’t change over the course of the day but the best items will inevitably be snatched first off the shelves so if you want to get them for yourself you need to be up with the birds.
Plan your route. There are many websites that will give you a preview of sales discounts on the high street so you can work out in advance where the best savings are likely to be. Plan the most efficient route for your shopping trip to make sure you pick up all the bargains you’re looking for.
Pay with a credit card that has points. If you’re planning a sales splurge on the high street for the New Year then paying with a credit card that offers points has a double benefit. You’ll not only have the items you’ve bought in the sale but you’ll also get the points you accumulate for spending on the card. Depending on the rewards your card offers this could net you free flights, cash discounts or vouchers for 2018. Just remember to pay off the balance.
Be focused. Online sales can be high pressured and bewildering and you might not be able to resist huge discounts even if you have absolutely no need of the item they apply to. So, be focused – work out what you want to buy in advance, as well as how much you’re willing to spend. Don’t go over budget or spend on items you don’t really need that will end up diminishing the savings you make overall.
Sign up for memberships and newsletters. Many online stores announce their sales early to members. Whistles and Net-a-Porter, for example, tend to offer a ‘private sale’ that is available to those who have signed up for newsletters or have accounts around 24 hours before the actual sale starts. So, if you want to make sure you get the biggest savings on the best products make sure you’re the first to know.
Leave items in your basket. Have you noticed that if you’re halfway through shopping and you forget to finish the transaction that you’ll often get an email with a discount incentive to do it? Many retailers will automatically send you a discount code if you seem to be abandoning your check out so you can save even more if you time it right. Normally, you don’t have to do much to trigger this, just navigate to another web page or leave the item dormant for a while.
Shop around. When you’re sales shopping online you have the unique advantage of being able to check prices on different online stores in an instant. If the item you’re looking for is available in more than one location then check to make sure that you can’t get it cheaper elsewhere. Use a price comparison site, search for the item and see what comes up or simply jump from one website to another to compare. Don’t forget to keep a record of locations and prices so you know where to go back to for the best deal.
Don’t pay for shipping. The cost of delivery can eat into sales savings significantly so make sure you’re not having to pay extra to get your purchases. If possible, combine as many as possible at one store so that you’re more likely to hit the threshold at which free delivery is available. If you’re a regular shopper at certain stores you might also want to consider an annual free delivery fee, which means that with a small upfront fee all the shipping is free for 12 months.
Take care not to get carried away when you start your sales spending. If you’re shopping in-store then paying by cash will make sure you can’t go over the top. If you are buying a relatively expensive item (e.g. sofa) you could look for an interest-free loan from the retailer and this would help you spread the cost and make budgeting easier. A credit card can also make sense because of a) the short interest-free period and perhaps more importantly b) the extra protection you receive for purchases over £100. Credit cards make extra sense when making online purchases – even more sense than paypal and debit cards – although take care about paying extra fees for using your card.
Amanda Gillam is Solution Loans's General Manager and has been since 2009. She is also a prolific writer on personal finance issues, and has been quoted numerous times in articles published on 3rd party websites and in press releases. Her...Read about Amanda Gillam
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