CHRISTMAS is an expensive time of year for families, but you don’t need to live on bread and water just to make your children’s wishes come true.
Fabulous spoke to Amanda Shepherd, who has worked at toy retailer The Entertainer for more than 20 years, for her expert tips on how to bag some bargains before Santa Claus comes to town.
The good news?
The Amersham store manager, 44, reveals that the best deals on this year’s must-have toys are to be had right now.
Here’s how to get your hands on them…
MAKE A BEELINE FOR THE BARGAIN AISLES
Although there isn’t a section of the shop without discounted toys for sale, every The Entertainer store has special displays with the best and biggest deals.
Amanda says: “All stores have an area of wall bays where we put ranges of items that are reduced down to really good prices.
“So at the moment you’ve got The Fugglers, which are quite a collectible thing, Toy Story and Trolls The World Tour in those areas.”
She also recommends checking out the end aisle displays – another hot spot for bargain buys.
SIGN UP TO THE MAILING LIST
To be among the first to know about the latest offers and promotions, sign up to The Entertainer’s mailing list.
As well as finding out what’s new in store, Amanda says that customers who are subscribed to the newsletter can receive discount codes or vouchers, find out about new promotions and get dibs on online-only deals.
GRAB A COPY OF THE CHRISTMAS CATALOGUE
In dispensers outside The Entertainer stores, shoppers can now pick up a copy of their Christmas catalogue which is a great starting point for discovering the hottest new toys you can get for a steal.
“It doesn’t have everything we stock as we stock a lot of toys, but it gives parents some idea of what the latest things are and the prices as well,” says Amanda.
“And it’s not just the high-end prices, it shows the toys that are on promotion that we’d have new in as well.”
In ghosts of Christmas past, savvy shoppers would hold out for the Boxing Day sales – but no more.
“It’s not like that now, we do discounts much earlier,” explains Amanda.
“We say to people if you see something you like, get it at the price that it is because sometimes it’s funded by suppliers and will only run for a certain period.
“We don’t have control in store over the prices so we normally know when things are on a really good deal and make sure we tell the customers.”
This is particularly relevant now as the shortage of HGV drivers could lead to gaps on shelves this Christmas – biding your time risks missing out or having to pay over the odds.
In-store competitions are a great way to get your hands on in-demand toys – particularly if you’re after something specific that isn’t discounted.
Amanda says they’re currently running Peppa Pig, My Little Pony and Star Wars Mandalorian competitions – so hotfoot it down to your nearest store if your kids are fans of any of those.
Until Christmas Eve, there’s also the chance to win a £500 gift card with every pack of GP batteries you buy so make sure to stock up in store if you’re feeling lucky.
SEIZE YOUR LAST CHANCE TO BUY
Head to the ‘last chance to buy’ table display in any store if you want to get a great deal on an item that you can be confident no one else will have already purchased.
Amanda explains: “It’s stock that you wouldn’t really get anymore.
“We’ve got some great prices on those as well and the chances are that parents and other family members haven’t bought those things because there aren’t many of them around.”
VISIT OUTSIDE OF THE SCHOOL RUSH
Amanda explains that the store shelves are restocked continually throughout the day, so the best time to get your hands on that hot new toy every kid wants for Christmas is to visit at quieter times.
She says: “We tend to find that after the school drop-off in the morning, we’re busier, then there’s the quiet time through the lunchtime until we then get the school pick-up again and the parents pop in with their kids on the way home.”
SPEAK TO STAFF
Several members of Amanda’s team have worked at The Entertainer for more than ten years – and that’s not unusual across the business.
So make sure you tap up their knowledge on recommendations and where to find certain items.
They will be able to advise on delivery days (although they won’t know what’s on the palette until it arrives) and whether your must-have toy is in stock at another store in the area.
Amanda explains: “We’ve got lots of stores which are near to each other, which helps.
“So if one store hasn’t got it, we phone another store that’s near us and they’ll keep it aside for the customer.
“It’s easy enough, just a 20 minute drive to get from one to the other in some areas.”
Plus, we reveal how to save hundreds in time for Christmas.
And, a mum reveals how she feeds her family-of-four on just £20 a week.
Meanwhile, we share the best Black Friday deals to look out for this year.
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