Being a self confessed and self diagnosed serial shopper, I've managed to rack up a bit of knowledge on how to get the most of your money and how to scour the shops for the best deals. Having mastered most of my shopping techniques while living in the UK; when we suddenly decided to move to Dublin, I had to learn a whole new way of shopping. The first hurdle I faced was the trials and tribulations of shopping online in Ireland. Online shopping in Ireland is a whole different kettle of fish, and if instant gratification is your thing, you'll have to learn that next day delivery is a bonus here and not a standard.
There is also the whole issue of shopping from UK shops online. Some retailers have EU/Irish versions of their websites which make a juicy profit on your purchase by whacking up the exchange rate and charging you almost 20% more than the actual currency conversion. One of the worst stores doing this is Topshop. Take their best seller the satin slip skirt. It's £29 on the UK website and stores, but will cost those paying in Euro's €40. Based on the current exchange rate, the skirt converts to €33, so at €40, its 20% inflated. Obviously companies can't change their prices constantly based on the fluctuating exchange rate, but to me, a 20% inflated price means I will never shop on the Irish website or at their stores.
One of the best ways to outsmart the system and shop all the UK shops you want without a inflated currency converted price is by using a parcel forwarding company. The one that I've been using since moving to Dublin is the very popular Parcel Motel. For those not in the know, once you sign up for the service and get an account, you get given a UK address (based in Northern Ireland) to use for all your parcels to be delivered to. The parcels then get forwarded to a depot in Ireland, processed and either delivered to a locker of your choice (mine is a 5 mins walk from my home) or they can also deliver to an address of your choice. Prices start at €3.50 per parcel depending on the size and whether your parcel is being delivered to a locker or an address. You can also do returns using Parcel Motel, and some retailers are free of charge for this service, while returning to Royal Mail, Hermes or Collect + costs €3.50 (or more depending on size). Full disclosure - they are on the whole, very reliable and in off peak months the turn around is within 24 hours (from when they receive your parcel in NI to when it's stored in the locker). In the last year and a half, I've had one lost parcel which they took 3 weeks to pay me back for, and during busy weekend periods it did take 3 days for me to receive my package. However, if shopping from the UK is something you like doing, or must do, I would definitely recommend Parcel Motel.
Below i'm going to list by store (only the faves I shop at), all the info I know on how to snag yourself a good deal. These tips will apply to both Irish and UK shopaholics.
Male or female, young or old, ASOS has something for everyone, and with all the brands sold on their site, it's so easy to shop. This is one of those stores that I would recommend shopping on the UK version of the site or app. It is another one that inflates their Euro price way above the conversion rate, and similar to Topshop, they add around 20% to their price. If you're thinking about delivery being affected - it won't. In fact you can get Premier Delivery for Ireland on the UK site. It cost me £13.74, that's under €16 for unlimited next day delivery and nominated day delivery for a whole year. Make sure that you're signed up to the newsletters and that you have an account - they often send birthday discount codes and have codes throughout the year.
As mentioned Topshop are greedy little buggers, so I avoid their Irish website at all costs because the prices just make me angry. If shopping from their UK website, you need a parcel forwarding service like Parcel Motel. Often you'll find free delivery codes, so you'll just have to pay the €3.50 to get the package delivered to your locker. The amount of money you'll save per item (when shopping the UK site and paying in £ rather than the Irish site) will more than offset the currency charges from your bank*. You can save more money by setting up a Topshop account and signing up for their newsletter (scroll to the bottom of the homepage to sign up). You get 10% off when signing up and you also get a birthday code sent to you. In the event that an item you buy becomes out of stock, Topshop will also make it up to you and give you 10% off.
& Other Stories
One of my absolute favourites for good quality lasting clothes. Obviously that comes with a higher price point, and a discount code helps to soften the blow. If you sign up for their newsletter you get a 10% off code which you can use in store or online. I've got a UK and Irish account with them, and with the UK one, I received a 20% off code last year for filling in a survey. It may be beneficial to sign up to newsletters in both regions to maximise the benefits. You'll also be alerted to VIP sales before the general public become aware, and you'll get special codes early like Black Friday which was 20% off last year. Stories do a great recycling program where you can bring in a bag of old textiles to your local store and they will give you a 10% voucher (can only be used in store) to say thanks. It can be any textiles, and does not have to be & Other Stories.
Office UK again tends to be quite a bit cheaper than prices in their Irish high street stores. You'll find a bigger selection of sale and cheaper sale prices as well. If you sign up for their newsletters you get a discount code, and if you fill out your birthday they also send you a voucher that can go towards your next purchase. They also send out surveys from time to time which if you fill out they reward you with 20% off codes. If you order from the UK website they deliver for free to Irish stores within 3-5 days, and you can return the same purchase to any store in Ireland as well, which saves you time posting and waiting on that return to go through.
I have 2 accounts with H&M, one on their UK site and another on the Irish one. The benefit of being on the UK site is that you can join the H&M Club. This gives you free standard delivery all year round, and based on the amount you purchase, you earn points which can be exchanged for certain offers. The most common offer is along the lines of 'spend £40 and save £10'. There are also 'club days' were you can get 10-20% off your entire order. Obviously if you live in Ireland you won't be able to get anything delivered straight to your door, but with Parcel Motel you can cheat the system. H&M Ireland also offer various discounts throughout the year, most recently they did 15% off everything the week before St Patrick's Day. I got an email notifying me, and I could use the voucher code online or in stores.
The only way to get any additional discounts at Mango is to sign up to their newsletter. You will first receive a welcome 10% off which you can spend on any full priced items that you purchase online. While it's sometimes painful having millions of newsletters in your inbox daily, it's worth sticking to it as Mango also send out VIP codes from time to time and you can also get first dibs on sale before it hits publicly. Something worth noting about Mango is that shopping in Ireland is a much better deal. For example, if a top costs €30, it will cost £30 in the UK, which means those in the UK are paying around 4 quid more, and in those in Ireland are paying a round 5 Euro less.
No discount vouchers to note, but have you checked out the special prices section on their website/app? Here they have current season items at super low prices that aren't actually classed as sale. As someone who used to work in the retail buying industry, I can see 2 reasons why they have this section. 1 - They have bought massive quantities of this item at a ridiculously low price and can therefore sell this for nothing. 2 - Putting something on sale actually devalues the stock that you own, so instead of putting the items into a clearance sale, its a clever way of retaining a more premium feel, and putting items on sale that aren't performing well without it actually being a sales clearance period (i.e. summer/boxing day sales).
*If you're worried about the currency conversion charges your bank will impose on your UK £ purchases, have you thought about getting a digital banking account which is a mobile-based current account that allows you to hold, exchange and transfer without fees in 24 different currencies? Great options include Revolut or N26. I have a Revolut account and it's completely free to set up and allows you to make purchases in different currencies without incurring those nasty charges.