Family gatherings, mulled wine by the fireplace and that first viewing of the Christmas adverts are just a few of the things that put us in the Christmas spirit. For many, the festive season is that rare time of year when people actually get joy out of shopping for others, and don't retailers know it!
Annual Christmas sales will generate about £22 billion in revenue this year. It appears Great Britain is pretty generous when it comes to buying presents for friends and family, but one nation in particular has loads of Christmas cheer. Recent research from Rakuten's Play.com found Scots are the most giving in the UK, with the average gifting spend expected to reach £381.94. That is £83 higher than the UK average, so those with loved ones in the Highlands have really lucked out!
As much as everyone loves Christmas and those cherished festive moments leading up to it, there is one element that doesn't fill anyone with festive cheer - the cost. Be it a purchase for the office Secret Santa or a fashionable outfit splurge for an upcoming Christmas party, it all adds up.
With new figures from the national Money Advice Service revealing a third of Brits will cover Christmas with credit this year, it is no surprise the nation is cutting back on spending. Statistics like this demonstrate the importance of shopping responsibly and sourcing the best deals this season. Below are a few top tips to help shoppers make the most out of this year's deals, and still experience the magic of the Christmas season.
Research the Black Friday and Cyber Monday Deals
For those who haven't heard of them, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are deemed the busiest shopping days of the year. Originally a US tradition following the Thanksgiving holiday, Black Friday is the day where bargain hunters across the country try and grab themselves a great deal heading into the festive period. The recent addition of Cyber Monday was created just a few years ago as a marketing move designed to encourage people to shop online. Nowadays, both Black Friday and Cyber Monday are renowned for huge 'one day only' sales.
Look out for incentive offers and customer rewards
Remember that a good deal isn't just about a low price. Many retailers will offer benefits through other means, such as doubling loyalty points, so do keep an eye out and don't be tempted into buying something just because it's cheaper than usual. Shoppers could end up getting more in the long run from other rewards, such as loyalty benefits, instead of a one off low priced item. This could certainly come in handy during those cash-strapped, cold January nights when over spenders need a little cheering up. It may seem obvious, but Christmas shopping on impulse can be dangerous, so make a good old-fashioned shopping list and find the best deals around.
Check the last delivery dates for the Royal Mail and online retailers
Keep in mind the golden rule - never leave it all to the last minute! It is easy to let deadlines like this slip when so much is going on. No one wants to be the guy left paying special delivery fees on all their loved ones pressies on the 23rd December. If only the post was as speedy as Santa on Christmas Eve.
If using Royal Mail, make sure to send parcels and letters before the last posting date. In 2013 for UK deliveries it is 18th December for second class, and 20th December for first. For those sending gifts internationally, post will need to be arranged by 5th December for Australia, and 6th December to the Caribbean, Africa and the Middle East. The last date for most of Western Europe is 14th December.
Online shoppers will need to make sure those presents arrive in time for Christmas morning too. Check the last delivery dates of each store presents are purchased from, and remember to factor in a few extra days if posting the gifts on to relatives and friends.