MILLIONS face an expensive winter this year as bills and other costs begin to rise.
Many are looking for shopping hacks and tips to keep costs down, so it’s useful to know what to avoid as you head to stores for festive bargains.
1Make sure to double check you know what you’re buying before you splash the cashCredit: Getty
A consumer rights expert has told The Mirror there are certain things to avoid as you search for Christmas deals.
It’s good to remember to search around as you shop anyway – if you’re set on a certain product, it could be cheaper elsewhere.
Also keep in mind something is only a bargain if you planned to buy it in the first place.
And always check return policies and delivery costs – don’t get carried away by a cheap price if there’s a catch to be found later on.

Without further ado, here are some tips recommended by Martyn James, consumer expert:
Return charges
As mentioned above, it’s good to check return policies before you buy.
This is because many online retailers have started charging customers to send items back – which you won’t want to find out when it’s too late.

For example, Zara is one of many charging for refunds, now expecting an extra £1.95 per item you send back.
But some retailers will not be expecting money back for items returned over the festive period, including Argos and B&M.
For these retailers, you can send items back if you have a receipt from now until January 31, 2023.
But the details vary per retailer, so you can check details for everyone offering extended policies here.
Black Friday fake sales
Consumers are to be warned that not all Black Friday sales are actually bargains.
According to James, 90% of Black Friday sales were actually the same price six months earlier – and some might have even been cheaper.
It’s best to triple check the deal if you find something you like – and don’t buy anything you didn’t intend to already.
You can use price comparison sites like PriceRunner or Idealo if you need a bit of help.
Be careful around social media shops
Although social media is becoming a great place for tips and tricks, you should be more wary when using it for bargains.
Things aren’t always what they seem – this clothes set, for instance, looked far better in pictures than it did in real life.
Make sure to check in with the firm selling it if you have doubts by clicking the “contact us” link when you visit the site.
Fake in demand items
Shoppers become more frantic as it gets closer to Christmas time, meaning some fraudsters will claim certain items are “in demand” when they’re not.
Always double check the website address – if it doesn’t have a padlock at the top left corner of your screen, it might not be trustworthy.
Anyway, it’s always best to shop at supermarkets and retailers you know and trust to be extra safe.
Subscription and voucher taps
Don’t be fooled by sites offering subscriptions – often it won’t warn you when a free trial ends and it’ll start charging you after a certain period of time.
Shopping expert Alice Beer recently came up with some top tips around this.
She said: “Please avoid the huge incentive sites – if there’s a massive incentive, look at what the price you’ve got to pay is.
“If you’ve got to click through and sign up to a subscription, you’ve got to be really sure you’re going to take the first free period and then end it.
“These can end up costing you more.”
Often, once you type in your email address to subscribe, you can end up accepting a long list of other offers along the way.
Alice says: “This is not the time for us to be signing up to subscriptions. We can’t. Money is too tight at the moment.”

For some trustworthy bargains, The Range fans recently uncovered a bargain Christmas buy for £6.
The retailer a neat serving platter to its official Facebook page and it quickly received over a thousand comments shoppers eager to buy.