Retailers entice shoppers to visit their outlets and websites all year round, but marketing reaches fever pitch this month, with Black Friday on 25 November and the start of the Christmas shopping season.
Black Friday evolves into Cyber Monday on 29 November, and special offers gather momentum with pre-Christmas sales. Festive season frenzy morphs into sales pitches to clear holiday stock in the New Year, followed by back-to-school specials during January.
How do you differentiate between scoring a great deal and getting hooked into an impulse buy that you regret? What is a sensible purchase, and what will leave you with a pile of debt?
“Whether you are a traditional shopper, who reads about supermarket specials in community newspapers, or pay a subscription service to a global online retail brand, you will be tempted to spend, possibly to your detriment, and your family’s,” says Shafeeka Anthony, Marketing Manager of consumer finance website JustMoney.co.za.
“When looking to bag a true bargain, the key is to differentiate between wants and needs. Do your homework before making a purchase. This may sound old-fashioned, but if you determine your values, and keep your financial goals top of mind, the greater your chances will be of building the lifestyle that you hope to attain.”
JustMoney offers six tips to help you sidestep “never-to-be-repeated” offers and to hunt down some real value-for-money opportunities.
- Focus on your aspirations: You may dream of a university education to kickstart your career, or buying your own apartment. Knowing your priorities will help you focus on your true goals, instead of getting side-tracked by tempting offers.
- Compare prices: If you have decided that an item is a good buy, such as an air fryer for family meals, shop around first. There are numerous sites that showcase the best daily deals in South Africa. There are also clearance sites with stock overruns from previous seasons, plus factory outlets and distribution centres.
- Differentiate between good and bad debt: Major purchases often require a loan. Understand the difference between good debt – such as a loan to revamp your house and increase its value – and bad debt, such as buying the latest fashions on credit. Avoid short-term, high-interest loans that could take months to repay.
- Read the fine print: A South African consumer has the right to receive goods in working order, free of defects. Keep packaging and proof of payment. If you experience problems, contact the store as soon as possible. Bargains may come with specific terms, however, such as no returns on sales goods. Check the terms and conditions.
- Shop at reputable outlets: This will increase your chance of obtaining quality goods, instead of counterfeit replicas that will soon fall apart. Read customer reviews.
- Be wary of scams: When searching online for bargains, use strong passwords. Pay with a credit card or a well-known payment platform. Some public WiFi hotspots are not secure, so use data from your network provider instead.
“When hunting for a good deal, keep your saving, investment and lifestyle goals in mind,” says Anthony. “If a truly great offer becomes available, you are more likely to recognise it and have the means to acquire it.
“For example, you may have searched for a home in a favourite neighbourhood, then hear of a new development where you will avoid transfer fees. This could be a special offer that really does have long-term benefits.”