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Get set for Cyber Monday

The last Monday in November is one of the busiest Christmas shopping days online. Buying from Irish sites has serious advantages


We might think that we’re plugged into to the 21st century, but Irish shoppers still have yet to fully wake up to the true potential of online shopping. While 35 per cent of us spent a total of €1.4 billion on the web last year, the level of transactions is well off the pace of the UK, France or Germany where almost twice that number shop online.

Over the next few weeks the level of transactions will really ramp up. The last Monday in November is branded Cyber Monday because of the volume of online shopping that peaks between now and the middle of December, Irish shoppers are expected to spend close to €500 million on online gifts.

While the big players in e-tailing such as amazon.com, play.com and even ebay.com are going to be popular with Irish shoppers over the coming weeks, it can be a good idea to keep it local and buy from Irish sites.

The choice may be slightly more limited but e-commerce has exploded here in recent years. By buying Irish you support local producers, keep money in the local economy and boost your feelgood levels into the bargain. The delivery times are generally shorter so you can leave it later to buy gifts.

There are less additional costs if your shopping is done on home-based sites – taxes can add well in excess of the list price if a product is sourced from the US or Asia – while returns are also easier and cheaper because many Irish websites will be offering free delivery in the weeks ahead – something that can make a big difference for bulkier presents.

Consumer rights
There is also more security about shopping close to home as there are numbers you can ring and businesses you can call if things go wrong. You actually have more rights when shopping online than in bricks and mortar shops. All Irish websites are covered by the European directive on distance selling and, under the legislation, goods have to be as described and fit for purpose. If they are not up to an acceptable standard, you are entitled to a repair, replacement, or refund – although as with bricks and mortar shops you don’t get to choose which of the Rs the retailer picks. But there is a but – and it is a big one. Online shoppers have the right to cancel an order within seven days of getting the goods – for any reason whatsoever. You will most likely have to pay the cost of returning the goods unless the gift is faulty or not what you ordered – something that is easier to do when the site is locally based.

Our favourites include lokofoto.com, where you can find framed photographs of places you love, and pressieport.ie, which has good value gifts and has a section for Irish-made presents. On etsy.com, an online crafts marketplace, a lot of Irish people have started doing business. Other crafty choices include giveirishcraft.com and the newly launched dananncrafts.com, where you’ll find all manner of gorgeous gifts ranging in price from under €20 to more than €500.

At giftgenies.com, the gift genies sift through hundreds of websites and draws up lists of presents for boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands, wives, children, friends and colleagues. It also works out what sites deliver to Ireland.

An old reliable by now, hairybaby.com is a great shop that only Irish people will ever really get. It sells T-shirts with silly phrases unique to Ireland as well as cups and bags and the like. And we also quite like tshock.net. It sells badges. And milk bottles from the Dublin’s 1988 millennium!

According to the bean counters at Deloitte, Irish households spend about €1,000 by the time the limp tree is dumped in the recycling centre. It’s a lot of money, so what can we do to cut costs without turning into Ebenezer Scrooge?

SHOP SOONER Last year, a study emerged which showed that Last-Minute Man (it’s almost always men) will pay a third more and often buy unwanted gifts.

SHOP SMARTER Plan your food shopping with military precision. You don’t have to stock up like the shops are closing for ever. About 30 per cent of the food bought for Christmas will end up in the bin.

A lot of turkey farms have to sell the greediest of their gaggle at the end of November because they’re growing too fast for the Christmas market. Buy now and stick it in the freezer. A 5lb ham is all a family of five will need.

ON THE CARDS Send fewer Christmas cards - they’re expensive, environmentally unfriendly and, an unnecessarily complex way to tell friends you’re thinking of them.

PRESENT SENSE Introduce a present freeze – just ask if spending €25 on a bottle of whiskey for an ageing aunt who’ll spend €25 on a bottle of whiskey for you makes sense? Suggest a joint embargo – in a light, jolly way.

SECRET SANTA Instead of spending €30 on five people, spend €75 on one. Everyone gets one nice present and the bill is halved.

GO ONLINE The bargains to be made by shopping online are immense but it peaks in early December so do it now.

NIGHT OR DAY? Instead of Christmas nights out, have days out. Eating out in daylight gets you the same food only cheaper. Head for lunch at 1.30pm and linger till 5pm with a few bottles of wine.