A guide to buying on Cyber Monday

Cyber Monday 2013 (2 December) turned out to be the biggest and busiest ever for online retailers in the UK, according to Experian research that found an astonishing 115 million visits by UK consumers.

It represents a 2.5% increase compared to Boxing Day 2012, the previous record holder for biggest ever shopping day. Compared to last year's Cyber Monday, visits were up by 3.3 million representing a 3% growth year-on-year.

In addition, new records were set for the amount of time spent shopping online in a single day, UK consumers spending 15.3 million hours on retail sites. In fact, on average consumers spent eight minutes per site visit on Monday.

The big winners for retail visits on Cyber Monday compared to the preceding Monday (25th November) were department stores (up 4 per cent), apparel (up 5 per cent) and video games (up 17 per cent).

‘Black Friday', on 29 November, didn't do too badly either, with a rise of 19% compared to last year, eclipsing any shopping day in 2012.

Monday 9th December and Christmas Eve are expected to be peak online shopping days as Christmas approaches and last-minute click-and-collect online sales rise, while  Boxing Day is still on course to break records as the biggest retail day ever.

Money management at Christmas can be tough, especially when there's a lot to pay for, and a lot of time to fill.  So we've come up with some key tips that might help you do that.

You can still buy online

Online shopping is usually cheaper than buying from a physical location, and most retailers can still deliver before Christmas if you order now. Make sure to use the Amazon discount you get when buying through the Money Dashboard price beater to save money on any items listed on Amazon UK.

If you need credit, apply carefully

Check your credit rating before you apply for a new store card or credit card. This will give you the best chance of knowing if you will be accepted or not. A 30-day trial of Experian Credit Expert could help tell you what factors are affecting your rating, positively and negatively, and can help you improve it.  Make sure your credit report is up to date and that the information on it is accurate. Even small details like the way your name and address is recorded could have a significant impact.  Check your credit rating before you apply for a new store card or credit card, as this can give you the best chance of knowing whether or not you will be accepted. If you check early you may have time to improve things before Christmas, or ahead of the sales.

And it's best to avoid making too many applications close together, even if it's just to see if you could get one, as to lenders this could signal financial stress.  You can get help finding finance deals that suit your credit profile, and see your credit report and Experian Credit Score whenever you want, as part of Experian CreditExpert membership.

Buying on credit can give you protection

Not every present works out perfectly. At Christmas people often buy goods that don't work properly, don't fit or are even unwanted. So it's a good idea to ensure you are protected not only by keeping your receipts (which not all of us do with gifts), but with the protection that buying on credit can offer.  If you buy goods or services on your credit card, you have extra protection if things go wrong compared with paying by cash or even debit card, under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act But make sure you don't get carried away and you're able to pay it off in January.

Remember to pay it off

Try to stay within your credit limits and pay your credit bills on time, as missed or late payments stay on your credit report for at least six years, and this can have a big impact on your score. Use the budget planner provided by Money Dashboard to watch your income and spend each month and make sure you don't miss any payments. If you're not able to make the minimum payment, speak to your lender as soon as possible – just don't bury your head in the sand.

Experian Credit Expert: A monthly fee of £14.99 applies after your free trial. You may cancel during your 30-day free trial without charge. New customers only. Free trial period starts on registration - further ID verification may be required to access full service which may take up to 5 days.

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All content is for informational purposes only and is the opinion of the author. Nothing on this website should be interpreted as "advice". Money Dashboard Ltd make no representations as to the accuracy, completeness, suitability or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors or omissions or any damages arising from its display or use.

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