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Christmas shopping: How to bag some big bargains

By Claire McNeilly

Published 20/11/2015

With only five weeks to go, now is the time to look for deals to make it a very merry yule-tide
With only five weeks to go, now is the time to look for deals to make it a very merry yule-tide

It's only five weeks - or 35 sleeps - until Christmas Day.

Most people only have one pay day between now and then so it's important to shop clever.

For those of us operating on a tight budget there are already plenty of deals out there if you know where to look, but consumers should also try to think ahead.

Nectar Card holders can cash in points for vouchers across several departments at Sainsbury's, for example, and save a fortune via a special Christmas offer that runs until next Tuesday.

Bargain hunters should also mark this day next week - November 27 - in their diaries because it's Black Friday, and that means a sales bonanza that will see prices slashed by up to 70%.

The event, which originated in America, takes place each year the day after Thanksgiving, which is the fourth Thursday in November.

Retail expert Donald McFetridge, who is based at Ulster University Business School, said that savvy shoppers hold the key to success this festive season.

"There are 34 days left until Christmas Day so there's no need for a scattergun approach towards buying presents just yet," he said.

"Saving money is about simple things like making a list, setting a budget and sticking to it.

"Think about the items you need to buy and have a look around different stores to see where you should be buying them.

"With so many deals there's no reason why the customer can't be king."

The Christmas double-up at Sainsbury's ends at 11.59pm on Tuesday, November 24, but until then, points can be exchanged in store in multiples of 1,000 for vouchers worth twice the usual value.

That means 2,000 points equals a £20 voucher instead of £10 - although the deal applies to specific departments and is subject to certain conditions.

Black Friday - when retailers slash prices across much of their stock to kick-start the gift-buying season - has become the biggest shopping day of the year.

And, this day next week, internet sales over the 24-hour period are expected to surpass £1bn for the first time in UK history.

Most sales kick off at midnight or at 8am, although many retailers will launch offers the evening before or at the start of the week.

Halfords, for example, will be offering children's bikes at up to half price from Friday to Monday.

Ebay will unveil deals every morning at 8am from Monday 23 until Monday, November 30.

Meanwhile, Asda recently announced it will not be participating in Black Friday after last year's deals led to scenes of violence in supermarkets when the American craze hit the UK. Instead, the grocer will be offering £26m worth of discounts throughout November and December.

10 top shopping tips to save your cash

1. Get basic items -- cards, wrapping paper, decorations and tableware - at a pound shop.

2. Stock up on food and drink on three-for-two offers.

3. Make an effort in the Black Friday sales bonanza and save up to 70%.

4. Join achica.com to save 70% on everything from bedding to handbags.

5. Shop at Toys R Us through quidco.com and you'll currently get 5% cashback plus a £15 gift coupon when you spend £100 or more.

6. Get Nectar points on over 500 brands.

7. Swap big brand tubs of chocolate for supermarket own labels.

8. Sign up for free at groupon.co.uk and get offers on dining out, food and drink.

9. Set a budget and don't exceed it.

10. Exchange Tesco clubcard vouchers for Boost tokens and turn every £5 into £10 until December. 27.

Belfast Telegraph

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