Ask LH: Where Should I Do My Christmas Shopping Online?

Dear Lifehacker, What are some good websites to do my Christmas shopping? I’m searching for low prices and a big range of items. Any thoughts? Thanks, No Crowds For Me

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Dear NCFM,

Online shopping is definitely the way to go if you want to avoid the crowds. There are two possible scenarios — you might have a specific gift in mind or you might need ideas — but the process is actually much the same.

First, some general reminders:

  • All other things being equal, minimise the number of stores you’re ordering from, since that will cut down on postage.
  • If you’re planning to order from overseas sites, get cracking! Postal delivery times are unpredictable, and only get worse come December.
  • Think carefully about where items are delivered. You don’t want to be queuing at a post office as Christmas approaches, so getting stuff sent to your workplace can make more sense, assuming your employer allows it. Also be aware that some sellers won’t ship to PO boxes.

If you have specific ideas for what you want to purchase, these tactics can help find the cheapest price:

  • Simply searching for the item name on Google will often turn up potential retailers, both in the general results and in the ads. You can eliminate overseas sellers by clicking the ‘Pages from Australia’ link in the left-hand column (though this will soon be more difficult to access). You can also use the Google shopping link, though in practice I don’t find this particularly effective.
  • eBay is also worth checking, especially since the majority of its sales these days are new goods. Check item locations and shipping times carefully.
  • Shopping search sites such as Lasoo and can help identify specials from major retailers.
  • We’re big fans of OzBargain, and the community-driven approach means it often finds specials which haven’t been highlighted by the major aggregators.
  • For technology and gadgets, staticeICE is extremely helpful.
  • For fashion and clothing, our sibling site ShopStyle has you sorted.

When comparing prices, make sure you factor postage in — it can make a major difference. Several of these resources will also turn up items you can only access in store, but researching in advance can still make the process less painful.

All of the resources mentioned for price comparisons can also be useful ways to identify random gift ideas, whether that’s through browsing a catalogue or idly clicking on links. A cost-saving strategy can be to buy everything from one store, but make sure you actually get postage benefits. If you use Amazon, for instance, goods will often ship from a variety of sellers.

I’m sure readers will have extra recommendations: share them in the comments.


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