But worry not. We want to make sure this never happens again. We spoke to experts to put together the best ways of saving money between now and Christmas.
It’s very tempting to hold out for a bargain but in reality, it’s a cat and mouse game between shoppers and retailers. Can you really wait until the last minute and risk not getting exactly what you want? It might be worth paying more to secure the item if it is a popular toy or particular gift. Nobody wants to face a child’s disappointment on the big day. Do your research before you hit the stores so you know what the prices were originally. It’s also worth signing up in November to newsletters or the social media pages of brands in which you’re interested so you’ll receive any discounts reserved for subscribers. Check websites like Money Saving Expert or local newspapers for a round-up of when the sales start and what discounts are available. Voucher code sites also advertise codes you can use to get money off items online and sometimes in store. Beware of the red mist. It’s easy to get carried away in a shopping frenzy, especially if everything seems to be really cheap. Set a budget so you don’t get distracted by other offers and end up spending more than you bargained for. If possible, pay online using a credit card so you are protected. Under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, your credit card company is jointly liable if something goes wrong and you should be able to get a refund. Also, try to choose a card on which you get reward points or cashback for spending, or buy online through cashback sites such as Quidco.
Another option is to buy nothing. This may sound radical, but think it through. Often feels like people are buying simply for the sake of it. The argument for buying nothing is a protest against our ‘buy now, chuck it next week or in a few months time because it was so cheap when we bought it’ culture. The vast majority of us have a constant stream of stuff flowing from the shops into our homes and out to landfill at record speeds. Think hard about what you are purchasing and only buy something that you really want, not because it is on sale. Do your brand research beforehand. You don’t want to be trying to work out which slow cooker to buy on Black Friday and panic buying at the last minute. Work out which brand is the one for you in advance and make a note of it.
Don’t buy your Christmas presents until after Christmas if at all possible. If you have family you know you won’t see until after Christmas Day, even late on Boxing Day, wait and do your shopping then. Most stores start majorly discounting their stock from December 26 due to the need to clear seasonal stock quickly. Look out for pre-sale codes on the swing tags. In preparation for busy sale periods, store staff write notes or mark dots on the price tags or labels. If you spot any marking or squiggles on full price items, 99 per cent of the time this indicates it will be included in the sale. Occasionally if you see a number then it indicates what price it will be sold as. This can help you build a wish list pre-sale of what you want and need, helping you make a bee line for your true desires come sale period, and avoid wasting money on impulse buys. Sales chaos will be your friend. The mayhem of the Christmas sales can leave stock looking a little tired and pulled. Missing buttons, loose threads and repairable pulls could bag you an extra 15 per cent off. If you know you can repair it, ask the manager for a discount on these types of items. It is at their discretion and may make it non-returnable, but it’s worth a try.