How to find Christmas bargains

Woolworths' big sales caused a furore. But if you arrived late and found only empty shelves, how else can you bag yourself some festive bargains? Ruth Jackson explains.

The big sales at Woolworths last week caused a furore. But if you arrived late to find only empty shelves, how else can you bag yourself some bargains in the run up to Christmas?

Buy cheap surplus stock

Self Trading buys surplus and liquidated stock usually left over when a company goes bust at bargain-basement prices and sells it on. Sale prices are around double the amount paid by the original firm, but that's still much cheaper than retail prices, says Jennifer Hill in The Sunday Times. Self Trading sells all sorts of consumer products, from clothing and jewellery to electrical items. For example, it recently sold electric bikes for £275 52% less than the recommended retail price of £570 and canvas paintings for 77% less than the retail price of £129. The firm told The Sunday Times that they had already had calls from toy suppliers to Woolworths looking to sell on surplus stock. Check or for stock clearance bargains. The firm also sells items on eBay.

Bag a book bargain

Next time you're about to buy a book, visit Tap in the name of the book and this website will locate the price (and basic delivery charge) at several online booksellers' websites and show them in price order. "All you have to do is choose the cheapest option," says Kara Gammell in The Daily Telegraph.

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Get your money back from Icesave

Customers of the defunct bank Icesave have until 30 December to make a compensation claim online, or they face having to make a paper application. Of the 198,219 eligible to use the online system, more than 183,000 have completed the process, according to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme. If you haven't, then log into your Icesave account before the end of the month and follow the online instructions.

Head for Ikea

If you're hosting the Christmas festivities and are worried about how to accommodate everyone, get down to Ikea. Their winter sale started on 18 December. Head down there to pick up cheap chairs, tables and kitchenware.

Appeal against unfair parking tickets

Finding a parking ticket on your windscreen, or a clamp on your wheel, is one of life's hideous moments, says Martin Lewis on But what can you do about it? If you were in the wrong, cough up the penalty charge and move on. But be aware, mistakes happen too. And whether it's an unclear sign, broken meter, over-eager warden or an honest error, you can appeal.

The first thing to do is check who issued the ticket. If the answer's a supermarket, or you were ticketed on private land, you will have to take it up with the relevant company or owner. However, if the ticket has been issued by a public body, such as the local council or police, then go to and follow the step-by-step guide to appealing against the ticket.

Ruth Jackson-Kirby

Ruth Jackson-Kirby is a freelance personal finance journalist with 17 years’ experience, writing about everything from savings and credit cards to pensions, property and pet insurance. 

Ruth started her career at MoneyWeek after graduating with an MA from the University of St Andrews, and she continues to contribute regular articles to our personal finance section. After leaving MoneyWeek she went on to become deputy editor of Moneywise before becoming a freelance journalist.

Ruth writes regularly for national publications including The Sunday Times, The Times, The Mail on Sunday and Good Housekeeping among many other titles both online and offline.