The end of the year brings treats: summer weather, holidays, and – for the bargain hunters – sales. But while it might be tempting to rush out and spend up, the pros know not all shops and sales are made equal.

Jacqueline Roots is an image consultant and personal stylist at David Jones, Sydney. She knows first-hand that 20-21 brings its own set of challenges. “Because we’re just getting out of lockdown, all the retail stores are going to be trying to entice customers in with promotional sales and things,” she says. “So [get] your list, [and] as soon as the sales hit you know what to buy - there’s none of the umming and erring.”

We asked Roots for five insider tips to help you armour up and approach the sales season prepared.

Planning ahead

This year is not the year to leave things until the last minute - particularly if we’re talking about Christmas shopping. With supply chains feeling the heat and the constant threat of postal strikes, it will pay to get in early. “If I was ordering overseas I would probably start now, because I know even for myself it recently took six weeks to get a few different items from the States,” says Roots. “I would say leave at least eight weeks. And as we’re steadily approaching Christmas it’s going to get busier.” Meaning where possible, shop local. “I would probably advise people to buy within Australia, even if it was to take three or four weeks,” says Roots.

Cashrewards

If you’re planning to plunder the sales, spending money is a given. So getting a little back from the outgoing cash is a serious bonus. Roots says services like Cashrewards are, “ a really great way to shop - and not just for Christmas. You basically shop through them. You either buy online or in store, and once you buy things it gives you a percentage back. Then it credits you with your Cashrewards account and you can transfer that money back to your bank account or via PayPal which is really good.” More than 1700 retailers are signed up and each has a percentage cashback attached - sometimes up to 25% of the price. Bundle the cashback with those sale savings and you’re looking good.

Promo codes

If your list is just full of products rather than brands or retailers, you’ll probably find there’s a bit of browsing to do. Comparing prices across stores can be helpful, but you might find you can still shave a little off the total. Promo codes can be that extra boost in a time of high spending. Rather than hunting down the codes yourself, Roots suggests getting an app to do it for you. “There’s certain browser extensions [that] actually search for the best possible code for you,” says Roots. “It’s through Google Chrome, it’s just an extension. When you get to the point where you pay and they say you can put a discount code in there, it’ll check for that.”

Bulk gift cards

Giving gift cards can be seen as a touch impersonal, but they definitely have their place – especially as they can be easily sent in the mail. If you know you need a few, bundling them together can mean saving a few percent on each card. “I think a lot of people give gift cards,” says Roots. “Get them for a big department store where they can have free reign, or there are certain companies where you can pick and choose from [any] different store you bulk-buy gift cards from.”

Signing up for mailing lists

Spam is a drag. But when you actually need them, promotional emails can be super handy. “I recently bought some beauty items from an online store I hadn’t used before,” says Roots. “I compared and found they had the lowest price, and when I went to order a little box popped up and said, ‘you can receive a further 15% with your first purchase’. So I popped in my email and they sent through a code and I was able to use that to get a further discount. Which was really good.”

This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Cashrewards.