Featured, Shopping

Shopping survival tricks: Santa’s got some competition this year. Psst, it’s you!

Nov 19, 2019, Author: Candice May

Whether it involves camping in a parking lot for Black Friday deals or racing other parents for that last hot-ticket toy, we all have our own nightmare holiday shopping story. That’s why stress-free shopping is on top of our wish list this year. Yours too? Well, we’ve got a present for you! Instead of turning into a stressed-out scrooge this holiday, follow our tips that will save you time and money.  


Enlist your own personal elves 

Don’t feel guilty about outsourcing – Santa employs helpers too, doesn’t he? It’s time to get a personal shopper to do your dirty work for you. There are many personal shopping services available in Joburg, including Shopology, The Imagepreneur and Vogue Fox, who will let you leave the shopping to them. You’ll need to make an appointment, so search their websites and call ahead. Some high-end stores also offer personal shopping services – just stop by a store and ask a sales consultant about it. Independent retailers are known for this personal touch – one of the best (and unsung) reasons to shop local. 

Skip the Black Friday mayhem 

No problem if you really love the ritual of hitting the malls on Black Friday. You’ll find major markdowns in many stores as well as online on hot-ticket items including TVs, iPhones, laptops, video game consoles and appliances. If you don’t, rather make it optional and know that sales will be going on in the weeks leading up to Christmas too. Also watch out for online merchants that promise Christmas Eve delivery without rush fees. Want to avoid the crowds in general while shopping? Then never shop on weekends – inevitably the busiest shopping days of the holiday season – and try weekday evenings instead. 


Always check the return policy 

Trust us … shopping for other people is difficult, and sometimes even the best-intentioned gift-giver gets it wrong. The last thing you want is to be stuck with a gift that isn’t suitable, which is why it’s so important to be aware of the return policy for every gift you purchase. Make a note of whether or not you’ll be able to return each gift and, if so, when you need to return it by. You don’t want to be heading back into the masses for no reason! Some stores will let you return anything, even without a receipt, while others shackle returns with time limits and restocking fees.  

Never wrap a present again! 

Free gift wrapping isn’t as common as it once was, but some stores – including major retailers Woolworths and Edgars – still offer it. Smaller stores at least provide free gift packaging, typically in the form of a box with tissue paper and a ribbon. Other stores and online retailers will wrap for a small fee. It’s also a good idea to keep your eyes open for gift-wrapping tables in malls across Joburg and Pretoria at holiday time. They’re usually staffed by volunteers, and with a small donation to a good cause, you can have all your wrapping done for you. 

Have gifts delivered 

Time is money … and for not that much money, you can save a lot of time by having your gifts delivered right to your door. Chain stores tend to charge to have gifts delivered, although it’s worth paying for the convenience. Some mom-and-pop stores, on the other hand, offer free delivery and setup on items such as furniture, grills and bikes. Our top trick? Simply ask your independent retailer if it will match the price you found at a chain store. Just make sure you check festive season delivery deadlines for each retailer to avoid gifts arriving late (eek!). 


Quick money-saving tips 

Put it on paper: No matter how small the gift may be, write down everyone you plan to buy a gift for with ideas of what to give them and a maximum amount you’re willing to spend. This list should include people who will receive holiday tips, such as your domestic worker and babysitter. 

Group your shopping trips: Save petrol by figuring out where any brick and mortar stores you need to go to are and planning the route that will involve the least driving. 

Buy gifts in advance: Don’t wait until December to start buying holiday gifts. Instead, keep your eyes peeled all year round for items that your family and friends would like. After all, it’s usually when you’re not looking for something specific that you stumble across the perfect gift for your Dad or your bestie. 

Shop alone: Of course, shopping alone isn’t half as fun as shopping with a friend, but it will save you time and prevent you from being influenced to make big spur-of-the-moment purchases. 

Buy in bulk: One way of avoiding spending hours wasting time in every aisle trying to find the perfect gift for a friend or family member is to buy in bulk. Find a unique item that will work for a lot of people and buy enough for everyone. You can add personal flair to each gift with a handmade Christmas card. 

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