Enlarge image

Shopping in Stuttgart: An idea of the reasonable price level is necessary to shop cheaply

Photo: Arnulf Hettrich / IMAGO

You've been saving all year long, keeping the euros together. And now you're afraid that your hard-earned savings will melt away again at Christmas? You can prevent this – at least partially – even without the great effort. But with a clever plan and suitable gifts at the end. Here's how to buy the right gifts really cheaply in the coming weeks. Black Friday can come.

Step 1: You make a plan

Do it like you do your weekend shopping, write a shopping list. Your children do the same – with the Christmas wish list. If you sit down now, you won't get into a rush later.

In fact, retailers believe that we buy the really expensive Christmas gifts as early as November and are therefore now giving discounts for them. For example, the Samsung Galaxy S23 was available this week for 470 euros, normal is more like 600 euros. That's why it's especially important to compare when shopping for the gift table.
The most complicated thing about Christmas shopping: choosing a specific product for the price comparison, but then also keeping an eye on competing products and slight deviations. My best example: The special offer is for my favorite shoe in brown and 44, but I only wear black and 42 to 43. In September, the shoe was available for a good 120 euros, currently it costs 180 euros, and of course I don't buy it.

Step 2: Determine the price level

Buying Christmas presents is not as common as buying milk and butter. You probably don't know the price of games, watches, jewelry, and tech by heart! However, an idea of the appropriate price level is necessary in order to buy cheaply. Use price portals such as Idealo.de and Billiger.de. Search for the products you want on the portals and find out what is currently a cheap price. Hundreds of thousands of products are listed there. And for each one you can look there the best prices of the whole past year.

Then set a price alert with your desired price. You will receive an e-mail or a push notification on your smartphone when your desired price is offered anywhere in the country. Then you can buy cheaply.

Computers and smartphones should be technically up-to-date, with reasonable virus protection. With the computer, you are still usually safer on the road. Before you follow the link to a shop, you can hover over the link with the mouse indicator and check the web address that is then visible. If the address seems strange to you, just keep your hands off it!

Step 3: Take advantage of new laws – the stricter Price Indication Regulation

Since spring 2022, when retailers offer a discount – a special offer on strike price, i.e. about minus 50 percent – they must also add what the lowest price was in the past 30 days. This is to prevent retailers from raising the price by 20 percent in the days leading up to Black Friday, for example, and then calling up a special offer on Black Friday with a 20 percent lower price. Retailers are familiar with this practice.

And now comes the math lessons: 100 euros would only become 120 euros with the increase, a discount of 20 percent would then reduce the price by 24 euros. With the supposed discount of 20 percent, you end up at 96 euros. So there is actually not a 20 percent discount, but only four percent.

If you come across a mislabeled special offer and the lowest price for the product in the past 30 days is not listed, ask. And if you're really annoyed,. In the store, at the public order office, and in case of doubt also at a consumer advice center, which then warns the retailer.

Step 4: Buy with Preparation – Cheaper Than Cheap Is Really Inexpensive

Looking at the price level, understanding the discount offers, and using price alerts will help you save a lot. Now come the extra tips for the coming weeks before Christmas.

a) Right of withdrawal: On the day before Black Friday, of all days, a retailer beats through your desired price with its offer for the desired game console. You gave 400 euros, he asks for 379 euros. If, contrary to expectations, it becomes much cheaper in the coming days, you have a 14-day right of withdrawal for online purchases without giving reasons. You cancel in writing, and you return the package within a further 14 days at the latest. Many retailers still even pay for return postage.

b) Stationary price competition: You have spotted an attractive offer on the Internet, but think your local retailer should also have a chance. Go to the retailer and ask them if they will match the internet price. He can often do this, because he no longer has the risk of being left sitting on the goods when you make your purchase. You are his safe customer. Some retailers even aggressively advertise that they go along with online prices. Attention! You do not have a right of withdrawal from your local retailer. There is no such thing, because you can take a look at the products there.

c) Stationary service: Or you can arrange with your local retailer to provide a service in addition to the purchase, for example to connect the new dishwasher or washing machine at the same time, and to charge a reasonably higher price for it. If the craftsman's service is on the invoice, you can even declare it to your taxes and get 20 percent of your wages and travel expenses back.

d) Buy privately: Always check Kleinanzeigen.de or Ebay. Often you can find the same products from private individuals even cheaper. However, always pay only at the handover, in cash or in case of doubt with PayPal and Giropay. But be aware of one thing: In the case of private purchases, you usually do not have a warranty. So if the machine gives up the ghost after four months, that's your bad luck.

e) Buy second-hand: It is safer and also a good option to buy used technology, such as mobile phones. Specialist companies such as Asgoodasnew, Buyzoxs and Rebuy make good deals on used, refurbished models, often with a warranty that goes beyond the dealer's normal warranty. I haven't bought a new phone in a decade. Not even for the daughter. As a colleague wrote, this also makes sense from an ecological point of view.

f) Data for a discount: I don't do it, but you can also sell your customer data for a discount. Many online retailers will give you an extra discount if you sign up for the retailer's promotional newsletter at the same time. You can also get a disposable email address for the 2023 Christmas business for this purpose, where all the newsletters and promotional emails will then arrive.

g) Pay securely online: Use PayPal or Giropay to pay, so you do not have to send your account or credit card details to unknown shops throughout the Republic.
In general: If possible, you should pay online either by invoice – in which case you only pay after receipt of the goods – or by credit card. Credit card companies offer the so-called chargeback procedure for the security of customers. If the retailer does not deliver, recall your purchase price using the procedure.

h) Data in exchange for cashback: And then you can visit so-called cashback portals such as Shoop or Getmore. If you buy via these portals, you will sometimes be credited five percent of the purchase price afterwards. Attention – here, too, you are dealing with your data. This isn't everyone's cup of tea and at least requires a clear understanding of what data you want to disclose and where.

Step 5: Don't shy away from revocation and exchanges

In the end, if you have essentially made your purchase online, you usually have a right of withdrawal for at least 14 days with each purchase, in case the product no longer appeals to you or an even cheaper offer comes your way. You do not have to justify the revocation, but you do have to return the goods. In the run-up to Christmas, many online retailers extend their right of withdrawal well into January.

Numerous retailers – including brick-and-mortar retailers – are also offering an extended right of exchange in the run-up to Christmas. This week, Peek&Cloppenburg promises an extended exchange period of 90 days until the end of the year. Exchange means returning, but not money back, but for example a voucher for other goods. You should discuss such exchange options with the brick-and-mortar retailer at the time of purchase. Then ask for the right of return or exchange in writing.

And now good luck with your Christmas shopping from Black Friday to Cyber Monday. But don't forget what your loved ones often want most urgently: your precious time. Sometimes it's much better to spend time at the coffee table together than while frantically shopping online or on the shopping mile.