How to find the best deals on your Christmas shopping spree
Slash your festive shopping bill by buying half-price tipples in Northern Ireland, and checking online marketplaces for gifts, writes Louise McBride
With only 22 shopping days until Christmas, the rush is on. Don't panic buy though, as you'll most likely end up with a runaway shopping bill if you do. You still have time to take some steps which should help slash the cost of your Christmas shopping. Here are some of them.
Buy drink in North
You could halve your Christmas drinks bill by buying you alcohol in Northern Ireland - depending on the type of drink you're after and which store you buy it in.
Some of the biggest savings up for grabs in the North are on spirits, cream liqueurs and whiskey, according to a price survey conducted by the Sunday Independent on November 17 and 18.
For example, Asda in Strabane charged £12 (€13.50) for a litre bottle of Baileys Original Irish Cream that weekend - down from the supermarket's normal price of £17 (€19). However, in the Republic that weekend, the price of a litre bottle of Baileys was €28 in Dunnes Stores and €25 in Tesco.
Whiskey lovers meanwhile could have bought a 700ml bottle of Jameson Irish Whiskey for £18 (€20) in Asda that weekend - as the supermarket had reduced its price from £22.50 (€25). Shoppers in the Republic however would have paid €30 for a 700ml bottle of Jameson in Dunnes Stores (though Dunnes had a promotion that weekend where you could buy two bottles for €50). Tesco however wasn't that much more expensive than Asda in this case as Tesco had reduced the price of a 700ml bottle of Jameson from €30 to €24 that weekend.
Sainsbury's had a litre bottle of Jack Daniels on promotion for £20 (€22.40) on November 20 - while on the same day, Tesco charged €25 for a smaller 700ml bottle under promotion. (Tesco normally charges almost €34 for a 700ml bottle of Jack Daniels.)
Vodka lovers meanwhile could have bought a litre bottle of Smirnoff Red Label in Asda for £16 (€18) on November 18. By comparison, Dunnes charged €28 a bottle (or two bottles for €50 under a promotion) while Tesco charged €25 a bottle (or two bottles for €40).
Wine drinkers should check the price of the exact wine they wish to buy before heading over the Border for their shopping.
The price of a 75cl bottle of Campo Viejo Tempranillo Rioja wine was almost the same in Tesco on November 18 as it was in Asda. Under a promotion on November 18, Tesco had cut the price of a bottle of that wine from €11.99 to €7. Asda in Strabane charged £6 (€6.70) for the same bottle that weekend - or £25 (€29) for six bottles. Dunnes Stores charged €10 a bottle for the same wine that weekend.
Before heading to Northern Ireland for your alcohol, check promotions in your local supermarket first - as well as in the stores you're planning to visit in the North.
Some supermarkets in the North will have better deals than others and with some drinks, the price may be almost the same in the Republic as it is in the North. Supermarkets regularly change the promotions and discounts they're offering so be ready to grab the ones you want when they come.
Grab a store discount
Most of the recent Black Friday sales will be over by now, though some stores have extended the promotion into early December. Currys PC World for example is running its Black Friday offers until December 5. Those offers include a wide-screen high-definition LG TV which the retailer says is reduced in price from €1,299 to €699.
Do your research on any Black Friday or other promotional offers so that you know if a discount is as deep as a retailer says it is.
You can do this by checking the price of a product in other shops or by digging up a retailer's sales catalogue from earlier in the year. Even if a store's Black Friday promotion is over, the shop may still have offers in the run up to Christmas.
Eason, for example, has a 25pc online discount off a number of books, gifts and games (as long as they're ordered online).
Eason also has a 40pc discount off a number of popular Christmas books and this promotion is available in store and online. Debenhams has a 30pc discount off women's and children's dresses, and women's shoes and bags - as well as a 10pc discount off make up.
Online marketplaces like Amazon can work out cheaper for your Christmas books and gifts than high street and other online stores. Be sure to compare the prices with Irish stores however and keep delivery charges in mind. Standard delivery from amazon.co.uk to here can cost from £4 (€4.50) to £6 (€6.80) per delivery.
There are ways around Amazon's delivery charge. For example, you can avoid the delivery charge if your order is worth £25 (€28) or more - as long as the items ordered are dispatched from and sold by Amazon.
The way you shop online will dictate whether or not you save money on your Christmas shopping. You could end up paying twice as much (or more) for a gift ordered online than you expected to if you order from a website that isn't based in Ireland and the correct tax and duty hasn't been paid.
This will usually happen if you order something which is worth more than €22 from a website based outside the EU - but it can also happen if you order something from within the EU. You must for example pay tax and duty on any alcohol or cigarettes which you buy online or by mail order - whether you have bought them from within or outside the EU.
"A case of wine for sale online at €60 might look like a great deal," said a spokeswoman for the Revenue Commissioners. "However, if the price is low, tax and duty have probably not been paid and Revenue may seize the wine on arrival. Excise duty and Vat will add more than €60 to the price of a an average 12-bottle case of wine if the wine originates in another EU country, bringing the price you actually pay to over €120."
Should you order a gift from a website which is based outside the EU, you usually have to pay 23pc Vat (value added tax) on the full value of the item (including transport, handling and insurance costs) if the value of your package is over €22.
Promoted: See the latest Amazon offers and deals on Independent Discounts
You may also have to pay import duty, particularly if your package is worth more than €150. The duty on large parcels of clothing is normally 12pc. The duty on shoes can be as high as 16.9pc. On top of the Vat and import duties, you'll have to pay a €10 handling fee to An Post.
Revenue is warning online shoppers about websites which offer to undervalue your goods so that you can avoid import duties. "This is illegal and as the importer of the goods, you are legally responsible for ensuring that the information provided is accurate and that all duties and taxes are paid," said a Revenue spokeswoman.
You may find something for a good price when shopping online - but which is only delivered to Britain. Delivery services such as Parcel Motel can help overcome this difficulty as you can get your package delivered to a Parcel Motel depot in Northern Ireland - and Parcel Motel will then deliver it to one of its local depots in the Republic (which you collect it from). AddressPal offers a similar service - where you can order something from Britain and get it delivered to either your local Post Office or directly to your home. You must pay a fee for such delivery services.
Sunday Indo Business