13 Genius Shopping Hacks I Absolutely Swear By

If you want to save time, money, and know how to find the best products then read on.

Hi, I’m Valeza and I would say I know the shopping world pretty well. Not only did I used to work in retail for YEARS, but I now literally shop online for a living. Since I’d say I have a decent grasp of the ins and outs of shopping (both in-store and online), I thought I’d put together a list of shopping hacks to help you get the best out of your experience!

Valeza Bakolli / Via BuzzFeed

🛍 Shopping in-store 🛍


Firstly, it’s a good idea to write a rough list of what sort of things you’re looking for before you brace the shops.

Valeza Bakolli / Via BuzzFeed

I know, I know, it seems like a pretty obvious step. But you’d be surprised how often those ~spontaneous~ trips arise! Shopping for clothes, decor, and gifts without a plan is akin to going food shopping on an empty stomach – a full basket waiting to happen! By creating (and sticking to) a rough list of things you know you need to buy, not only will you end up *actually* getting what you need, you also won’t come home with 5 new plant pots that have nowhere to live.


The best time to look around for deals is towards the end of the week, month, quarter, or year.


During these times companies are typically aiming to reach their sales goals so might be more willing to offer discounts and promos, or even negotiate prices of products if it’s that kind of shop. Aside from the obvious pull of the Boxing Day sales, retailers are usually keen to get rid of their stock towards the end of the year, so don’t sleep on shopping during the Christmas-to-New-Year lull! Oh, and for year-round shopping you should bear in mind that the retail week typically starts on a Sunday, so Saturday would be the last day of the trading week (and so the best time to scout for sales).


For a more sustainable way to shop, and a brilliant way to find the best bargains, don’t be afraid to befriend the owners of your local small businesses.

Valeza Bakolli / Via BuzzFeed

Ask your favourite boutiques and second hand shops when they typically bring in their ‘fresh’ stock, then plan your shopping trips around the mornings of those days, where you can browse through the newest (and biggest) selection possible. With smaller businesses, you can usually build a pretty good relationship with the owners themselves – they might even get to know your personal style over time and recommend bits they think you’d love! You’ll get the pick of the bunch, and can even find the occasional vintage designer piece for an absolute steal – what’s not to love?


If an enjoyable and efficient shopping experience is what you’re after, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings are the best time to head to the shops!

Paramount Pictures

During my years working in retail I noticed that most shops typically receive their new stock early-to-mid-week, so by shopping around that time you’ll get first dibs on the newest bits! It also goes without saying that early morning shopping will always be a more enjoyable experience. You get to avoid the evening and weekend crowds since most people are at work, AND the stock will still be neatly laid out for your convenience. If you have flexible working hours then around 10am is your shopping time to shine.


And if you’re *extra* keen to avoid the crowds, don’t go shopping on Thursday evenings.


Ever noticed that your local shopping centre stays open extra late on Thursday nights? Yeah, that’s no coincidence, as that tends to be the busiest time of the trading week. Now, I’m no psychologist, but there’s something about nearing the end of the working week that gets people in the mood to treat themselves and ~unwind~. Friday nights are typically reserved for dinners, drinks, and other pointedly non-admin-y things, so when you think of it, tons of people rushing out for a retail therapy sesh on a Thursday evening makes a lot of sense! It goes without saying, but payday weekends will also be busier than usual ones, so avoid popping out then if you don’t like shopping in large crowds.


Speaking of avoiding large crowds, it’s also a good idea to get your Christmas shopping out of the way early.

Valeza Bakolli / Via BuzzFeed

If you don’t really mind paying full price for your gifts and would prefer to avoid the huge Christmas crowds, the weeks leading up to the end of November (AKA any time before Black Friday weekend) are a particularly quiet time to shop! 


If deals are where it’s at for you, Black Friday weekend is the best time for getting your Christmas shopping done, and don’t forget to check in on the days leading up to the big event!


Nearly all shops will offer at least a 20% discount over Black Friday weekend, so it’s a great time to buy gifts, stock up on your favourite products, and invest in those big-ticket items you’ve had your eye on for ages. If you want to cheat both the crowd and deal systems, it’s worth dedicating Black Friday morning to a decent shopping session before the business of the weekend properly kicks in! Some companies will also do smaller ‘teaser’ promos just before Black Friday, so if you’re worried something you’re after will sell out then you can often still snap it up in advance with a reasonable discount.

🛍 Shopping online 🛍


Make the most out of your Black Friday shopping by planning it all well in advance!

Valeza Bakolli / Via BuzzFeed

If I’m honest, it makes the most sense to do your Black Friday shopping online – you get to avoid the queues and can plan it far better. As mentioned above, pretty much every shop will be offering a decent discount over Black Friday, so it makes sense to save any products you’ve had your eye on for just this moment!  I always make a spreadsheet in the build-up to Black Friday with all the things I need and/or want to buy – for example pricier jewellery, beauty bits I want to stock up on, and big ticket household items like a new hoover. It’s easy to get blindsided by all the deals and end up getting things you don’t need while missing out on the important bits that you’ve been needing for a while now! It’s also a good idea to put money to the side as you think of the things you want to buy, so it doesn’t feel like you’re spending too much in one go!


You can work out if certain clothes will suit your style and other items in your wardrobe by looking at what else the model is wearing in the product pictures.

ASOS / Valeza Bakolli / Via BuzzFeed

Looking at what else the model has paired the item of clothing with with is a great way to make sure you’re buying clothes that you’ll actually wear and avoid the dreaded (but often inevitable) post-online shop return! You can also apply it to decor pieces and even in-store shopping by looking at how the mannequins are styled. Some retailers even have a ‘how to style’ section at the bottom of the product page if you scroll down. 


Another great way to avoid returns is by looking at reviews.


I cannot stress how much this little hack has changed my online shopping game! You want to look for a four-star average rating or higher, and obviously, the more reviews the better. It’ll help you work out if the product’s dimensions are what you’re looking for, what the quality is like, whether it lives up to expectations based on image from the website, and loads more. And this of course applies to everything – from the quality of a casserole dish to whether a foundation shade leans more warm or cool-toned.


Always check the drop-down menus, banners, and other signage for any promotions the site may be running.

TV Land

This is a fab way to find ~hidden~ sales and discounts, or even better: final clearance sections! You can find some real bargains and might even save on something you would otherwise have bought at full price thanks to any handy promo codes. Top tip: scan the drop-down menu for any red lettering, as this is usually where you can find the four-letter word that makes your heart beat that bit faster (that’s ‘sale’ BTW).


Drop-down menus are also great places to look for inspo!

ASOS / Valeza Bakolli / Via BuzzFeed

Retailers often create curated lists of products that might suit exactly what you’re looking for, or help if you’re not quite sure what you’re after, for example giftable items, seasonal edits, and new-in bits!


Finally, explore around the page a little and you might actually find a better version of your product!

Oliver Bonas / Valeza Bakolli / Via BuzzFeed

You will usually find ‘similar style’ products if you scroll down the page a bit. This is a great hack to try if you keep finding products that are not *quite* right! You can also find more highly-rated or better-priced versions of similar products if you’re shopping on Amazon or similar large-capacity websites.

Do you know any genius shopping hacks that I might have missed? Share them in the comments below!


Katheleen Knopf

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