Freelance writer, mum of one, who loves living in sunny Perth. You can follow my blog at www.helenonthesofa.com where I'm writing about the things I love to do with my family and friends as well as general jibberjabber.
Published April 27th 2012
Australia is a fantastic place to live. However living in this beautiful country comes at a price, and more and more expats are finding their wallets stretched to the max once they uproot and start building their lives on these sunny shores. Indeed, Sydney was recently crowned seventh most expensive city in the world according to the global Cost of Living Survey conducted by Economist Unit Intelligence, with Melbourne lagging not far behind at number eight and other major Australian cities following closely.
To maximise the strong Aussie dollar position, many have taken to online shopping, and if you're a novice to this, the following will give you some pointers.
An established global brand famous for its cheap DVD's, music CD's and well priced books, Amazon is a great site to tap up for some amazing deals. DVD's seem to offer some of the greatest savings. As an example, Friends With Benefits featuring the delectable Justin Timberlake can be purchased for just over $10 compared to $24.82 in Big W. Shipping is cheap at around a couple of bucks for a DVD so it's a great site to get all your media based Christmas shopping done.
Top Tips: Look out for free Australia shipping offers throughout the year. Additionally, some great pre loved bargains can be found on the marketplace in Amazon, just check that the buyer is happy to ship to Australia; many will.
Over $14 cheaper online Wikipedia)
The Book Depository I should really get commission from the Book Depository for the amount of times I have referred this site to friends. This cyber book shop does two fabulous things in my mind: 1) Offers cheapy cheap books
2) Offers free worldwide (and quick) delivery As a comparison, if one was to buy Mockingjay, the third book in Suzanne Collins popular Hunger Games trilogy, you'd be forking out $18.99 in Dymocks. With Book Depository, you'd have the same literary treat delivered to your door for $8.19. With a saving of over $10, I know where I'd rather shop.
Top Tip: Look out for the sales. The common promotion is a tasty 10% discount across the whole website.
Debenhams Debenhams is a well loved department store in the UK; not disimilar to Myer, but perhaps with a slightly broader range and certainly a much lower price tag. Shipping comes at a tidy flat fee of £14 or just under $22. There are great buys to be had on all areas of clothing in addition to some fabulous homewares. A great quality towel bale consisting of two face cloths, two hand towels and two large bath towels is priced at only $23.
Top Tips: Consider buying with a friend to share the cost of shipping. Look out for the regular sales where you get 25% off different clothing ranges as well as the seasonal Blue Cross Sale where you can save up to 70% off the original price.
StrawberryNet Based in Hong Kong, StrawberryNet exists to answer all of your beauty needs. With over 20,000 items across 200 brands, there is something for everyone (men included). Particular bargains can be found in the high end, designer skincare and make up ranges, so if your taste inclines this way, do your purse a favour and get on line. Free Australian delivery too, and purchases come in a beautiful silver box with purple ribbon so perfect for gifts too.
Top Tip: With many offers and promotions on, it's a good idea to sign up to the newsletter so you don't miss out. It's common to get at least 10% off your order, and further discounts can be found by buying in bulk. Shopping carts with 6 or more items included will get an additional 5% discount.
Marks and Spencers M&S in England is a strong brand name with a very loyal band of followers. Once favoured by the elders of our generation, M&S have made great movements in recent years re-energise its offering and you can now get some great high street fashion buys amongst its vast range. With a $23 shipping fee to Australia, it is a little costly, however the quality is excellent and there are some great bargains to be found in the kids clothing range, menswear as well as the underwear range.
Top Tips: Look out for the offers. They have a great number of 2 for 3 offers in addition to some great sales throughout the year. You'll regularly see 25% off clothing and this goes someway to off-setting the higher shipping costs.
ASOS ASOS or As Seen on Screen is for the fashion follower hoping to look like their favourite celeb or just keep up with the latest trends. Great website with some suggested looks and ensembles. Free shipping to Australia.
Top Tip: Check out their sale section from the home page menu and you'll find lots of bargains, some with up to 70% off their original price. Also sign up for their newsletter for style suggestions and information on limited discounts such as 10% off the whole site.
Next deliver free to Australia, normally in a very timely fashion. Next offers great quality clothing for all the family and its website displays prices in Australian dollars making it easy to see where the bargains are. Quality is really good across all ranges, and there are some good buys to be had in footwear and adult clothes ranges. A growing amount of homewares are on offer too.
Top Tip: Sign up to their newsletter to receive exclusive offers and to find out when the sales are going to happen.
Old Navy/Gap Old Navy is a reasonably priced family clothing store based in America. They offer some excellent clothing with some tiny price tags. In particular their sales deliver some fantastic price reductions. In last year's end of season sale, kids T-shirts and baby onesies were down to just a couple of bucks. Cheap price but thankfully not cheap quality. The website has some great functionality so you can do some great virtual shopping, and a lot of items come complete with some candid user reviews. Delivery fees are a little steep and are dependant upon size of order, weight of order etc. A friend recently bought all of her child's Winter wardrobe from Old Navy and for she paid $40 delivery fees for $200 worth of clothing. A little pricey, but the goods on offer were so well priced. As a treat to herself she also purchased a pretty little business dress, priced at $20; for the quality of product this is a real bargain. Whilst shopping on Old Navy you can also visit its sister sites of Gap and Banana Republic and add to your shopping carts. The sites work in harmony together, so you can have a great shopping experience.
Top Tip: Shop when the sales are on. When it is the end of the US Summer season it is just starting to heat up down under, so a perfect time to kit yourself out. Use the opposite seasons to your advantage.
Affectionately referred to as Dotty P's by its loyal Brit following, this female clothing store maintains a strong presence on the high street fashion front. Shipping from the UK is just over $16, which you'll adequately compensate for in the money you save on some quality and trendy buys. Current offers include 2 tops for $14 as well as sale items with up to 50% off.
Top Tips:In addition to the sales, look out for the limited edition offers where you can get 10% off everything on the website.
Another US store that reliably ships to Australia, American Eagle offers a great range of casual clothing for adults and a really cute line of kids attire. For the menfolk, American Eagle offer some beautifully cut shirts as well as some cheeky and ever so well priced graphic t-shirts. In the recent sale you were able to steal some great bargain t-shirts at the rock bottom price of $15. With quality akin to Country Road, this is a real find. For the ladies, think of pretty dresses, cute jeans and lots of tops that you'd love to wear on a summer's day, all with very reasonable price tags.
Top Tip: Shipping is a flat rate of $50 so you want to make sure you buy when the time is right; so either during a sale or at the end of a season when the clearance is on. Click straight into the clearance section (home page menu) to find the best deals. Quality is exceptional.
Lots and lots of bargains to be found; happy shopping.
I'm a Book Depository fan too so hi fellow bookophile. I'd ike to share with you a few other good sites. Endless Shoes, which has more than fair shipping rates. I only buy slip on and slingback styles for obvious reasons but they have great handbags as well. Their search filters include width, style, heel height, colour, price range and brand and the prices are pretty great overall. For the full figured there is One Stop Plus which has great clearance item prices and a big variety too (no pun intended). Their shipping costs are not great so again it is buy from them at bargain time. They have "tall" clothing too which is great for those of us who like a bit of extra length and "petite". King Size mens with "tall" clothing are not forgotten plus shoes, bags etc. As well there is the UK site Yours Plus which has very good shipping prices. I agree Amazon are awesome but some of their companies have outrageous shipping costs. I wanted a few tee shirts for my son recently and the shipping and handling was over $100 which was dearer than the tee shirts. Thus you have to be really careful when buying from there and check costs before you buy.