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Have you been starting to think about Christmas shopping and Black Friday? We’re about to enter the busiest shopping period of the year, where online shopping is set to be busier than ever during a second lockdown.

To give you a head start, we’ve put together an essential shopping guide for 2020. It includes the important shopping dates you need to know, along with shopping tactics during a second UK lockdown. With a bit of wisdom, you might actually reach the pinnacle of being a Christmas consumer: the stress-free shopping experience.

When are the important UK shopping dates of late 2020?

Whilst the most important sales dates in the UK are Black Friday and Cyber Monday, there are also a few other important dates to consider when planning in your shopping.

They include the full winter sales period which runs from November to December, though will differ depending on the brand. You should also be aware of the dates to stick to when ordering online and the fact that it will be particularly busy in 2020 due to a second COVID lockdown. Therefore it's best to order as soon as you can, preferably prior to December where possible to guarantee delivery for Christmas.

Super Saturday is guaranteed to be a busy day on the high street as last-minute shoppers use the final weekend before Christmas to finish buying presents, whilst the boxing day sales are also busy for those wanting to grab a bargain after the Christmas rush. This will be particularly heightened if the second lockdown is lifted, as UK shoppers will have missed out on 4 weeks of high street shopping during November.

Shopping tactics

Along with knowing the important dates, you can also prepare for this busy shopping period by adopting certain tactics to get ahead of the consumer crowd. These hints and tips will not only allow you to get the items you want on your list, but also avoid busy periods and hopefully get your items cheaper as well:

  • Do your research – find out what is available this Christmas and when certain items will be available. For example, some video games will have a release date closer to Christmas so it might be worth pre-ordering online
  • Make a list early – always make your Christmas list as early as possible to avoid disappointment. Divide it into big presents and small presents, with the big presents making up the most expensive and sought-after gifts. You should make this before the winter sale season starts (Dec)
  • Budget your shop – put money aside in a flexible savings account or a separate account. This will help you avoid going overboard and eating into money that you might need for bills or monthly expenses
  • Avoid peak shopping times – the shops will become busier during December as UK shoppers will have already missed out on 4 weeks of shopping due to lockdown. If possible, try and head to the shops on a weekday, and preferably not on Christmas Eve!
  • Factor in delivery time – ordering online? Whilst companies like Amazon and Argos might have excellent delivery options, you can’t always say the same for everyone else. Check up on delivery options as early as you can and be wary of the cut off days for each company before you order anything. Also remember it will be particularly busy due to lockdown
  • Take advantage of sales periods – each company will have their own sales period, as well as black Friday and cyber Monday offers if they have an online shop. Make yourself aware of offers coming up and take advantage of them as early as you can
  • Track product prices online – using sites like PriceSpy or Idealo can give you a head start in looking for the best prices for products online. You can also get notifications for when they reduce in price so you pick up the items on your list as cheap as possible

Winter Sales

  • Usually occur during December (straight after Cyber Monday)
  • Can be different depending on company and industry
  • Available in shops and online
  • Worth checking what promotions are available for 2020

Do you have your shopping list ready? Start looking online or even in the news regarding what items might be on offer during winter sales. There are often early announcements for electronics items whereas fashion and beauty tend to have a percentage taken off.

When is Black Friday?

  • Falls on Friday 27th November
  • Biggest offers to be had before Christmas
  • Expect online shopping to be particularly busy

Even though Black Friday started off as a US tradition, it has quickly transitioned to the UK where retailers offer larger discounts than usual. Whilst offers tend to focus on electronics, computing, video games and other white label goods, there is usually some form of discount ot be had at most major shops and online retailers

Top tip: try to check the price of items before the day to see if the discount is worth it or not. Some offers look tempting but could be for older models or be on the same offer they had before but with a Black Friday tag on it

When is Cyber Monday?

  • Falls on Monday 30th November
  • Busiest online shopping day of the year
  • Main savings can be made online
  • Order early before items become out of stock

Cyber Monday is traditionally held after the Black Friday weekend, and usually allows shoppers to get large discounts online. It is usually touted as the busiest online shopping day of the year, with extra promotions from many online retailers.

Just like Black Friday, always do your research on prices to see if the offers are any good, and try and order earlier in the day to avoid items going out of stock.

Super Saturday

  • Falls on Saturday 19th December
  • Expect the shops to be incredibly busy
  • Might take longer to shop on this day because of crowds
  • Might be busier this year due to November lockdown

Whilst this day is listed as an important date, it’s possibly the day you should avoid having to visit the high street, simply because it will be so busy with last-minute shoppers. Given that it’s the last Saturday before Christmas, it is likely that everyone will be hitting the shops to get the last few items off their lists.

If possible, avoid the shops and shop online instead, though you will have to pay for express delivery to get it before the big day.

Boxing Day

  • Falls on Saturday 26th December
  • Sales usually start very early in the morning (think around 5-6am)
  • Massive discounts for fashion retailers especially
  • Could be boxing day promotions online too

The day after Christmas is actually another day of sales that can be had, if you’re willing to get up at the crack of dawn! Most popular with fashion retailers such as Next, you will find Boxing Day sales are a chance to mark down Christmas items that haven’t been sold. For that reason, you’re likely to get big discounts on this day.

Ways to budget for Christmas shopping

As the countdown to Christmas begins, it might be worth putting some extra savings to one side, allowing you to afford the extra expense of presents, food and everything else. Try to use one of the options below to help you put money aside or spread the cost of your Christmas expenses:

  • 0% Purchase credit card – getting a purchase credit card where you can spend without incurring any interest is ideal, especially as you can spread the cost over a few moths rather than buying it all at once. Using a credit card will also give you extra security under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, just in case you need to return items after Christmas
  • Savings pot – many current account and app-based Challenger banks have a free savings space you can use to syphon off money to use for shopping. You can also automate it so it removes a certain amount every week or month from your main account
  • Cashback credit card – if you don’t need to save money but would still like a bonus, a cashback credit card might be the way to go. If you’re planning on spending and paying off the amount in full, you will get a cashback bonus and pay no interest at the same time