Online shopping is booming, with £3 in every £10 spent over the internet.
But how can you be sure you are getting the best possible price?
Here Money Mail shares eight tricks to help you track down the top deals.
Abracadabra: Our eight spending tricks will have you saving on your online shopping
Hunt online to spot the cheapest
Before settling on a retailer, try a few price comparison websites such as google.com/shopping, pricespy.co.uk, kelkoo.co.uk and pricerunner.com.
These compare online prices at major retailers, including Boots, Argos, Amazon and Currys PC World.
Just type in the name of the item you are looking for, click search and a list of retailers will appear with their best price alongside.
When using Google Shopping to find a Sony 55in smart TV, for example, we found prices ranged from £519 to £831.
Be alert to be sure the price really is right
If you are hoping the price of an item will drop further, register with sites such as lovesales.com and pricespy.co.uk.
You can add as many items as you wish to a watchlist and you will receive an alert when the price falls.
Website camelcamelcamel.com monitors prices on Amazon and will send you an email when selected items become cheaper.
These sites help shoppers avoid falling for hyped-up sales events when products may actually be cheaper at other times.
For example, an Apple MacBook averaged at around £1,699 last summer compared to £1,900 on Black Friday, according to Pricespy.
Always ask ‘is that your best offer?’
Many retailers promise to meet the best price you can find.
Currys PC World says it will match any product against any other retailer, online or instore, including discount codes. It will also refund the difference if you find a better offer up to seven days after your purchase.
John Lewis has a similar price-match scheme, while outdoor clothing and equipment retailer Blacks says it will beat a cheaper deal by 10 per cent.
Contact a Blacks store or call customer services on 0161 393 7059. You will need to provide details of the product, including where it is being advertised at a lower price. Take a screenshot and note down the web address.
Remember to brush up on your rights
If you buy online you are entitled to a 14-day cooling off period.
This means you can return the item within this timeframe (starting the day after you receive it) for whatever reason and get a full refund.
This includes the cost of postage when you send it back.
Goods should be of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose and as described. If it is faulty you have 30 days to return it for a refund.
After this, and up to six months later, the retailer can offer a repair or replacement. If unsuccesful, it must then give you a refund.
If you paid more than £100 and it was on a credit card, you can claim your money back if something goes wrong, under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act.
It’s best to contact the retailer first to sort out any problems. Section 75 may not work if you pay via a third party such as PayPal.
Now is the winter of our discount tents…
Camping gear is often discounted in March, November and December, while you can get cheap ski equipment in summer.
Last year winter sports kit began to creep up in August, rising almost 24 per cent by November, according to PriceSpy.
The cost of toasters dipped last December and January then began to rise from February.
PriceSpy data also revealed the cheapest time to buy kitchen appliances last year was August.
Money off for being in the right group
Many online retailers offer generous discounts to students, medical staff, Armed Forces’ personnel and pensioners.
For example, students can trial Amazon Prime for six months, which offers next-day delivery and access to online videos and music.
Tune in: Students can trial Amazon Prime for six months, which offers a next-day delivery service and access to online videos and music. Usually you will only get a one month free trial
Only a one-month free trial is given usually. After the offer period ends, students pay half the typical price at £3.99.
Asos and Topshop give a 10 per cent student discount. For more offers, see myunidays.com and student beans.com.
NHS England (england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/nhs-staff-offers) lists offers available for NHS workers, such as free online courses, app subscriptions and discounted holiday accommodation.
Military staff can sign up for the Defence Discount Service (defencediscountservice.co.uk) for hundreds of online deals.
Meanwhile, over-60s get 20 per cent off certain Specsavers glasses, while Boots offers 25 per cent off the first pair of glasses or prescription sunglasses.
If you’re over 60 you’ll also get extra Advantage card points when you buy products at Boots.
Haggling really can pay off
Many retailers have online chat features on their websites so you can talk to sales staff.
Start a conversation with a few questions about the item then see if they will better the price.
Try saying the advertised price is not within your budget now, but you would like to know when it is on sale. Some staff are able to give discount codes there and then.
For example, Nike offered a 10 per cent discount on a pair of £89.95 trainers when our reporter asked.
Net shopper: Online shopping is booming, with £3 in every £10 now spent on the internet
Like Like like on social media
Many popular brands reward loyal customers with exclusive deals, competitions and early access to sales.
So if you have a Twitter, Facebook or Instagram account, ‘like’ or ‘follow’ your favourite stores.
Contacting companies on social media can also generate a much faster response if something goes wrong than if you call or email.
If you don’t use social media, register to receive the retailer’s email newsletter. Topshop, for example, offers customers who sign up a 15 per cent discount on their first order.
Avoid junk mail by setting up a dedicated email address.
See if you can get it for nothing first!
Before buying something, see if you can get it for free via websites such as freecycle.org or ilovefreegle.org. The sites connect people who have things to give away to those who need them.
You just join your local group, respond to posts advertising items then agree a pick-up time.
Local groups on Facebook work in a similar way. For example, Free Stuff Manchester UK has more than 13,000 members and Brighton Freebies UK has 9,500.
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