9 top tips for smarter shopping

woman who is happy carrying shopping bags
Burak Karademir/Getty Images
by Sarah Crake
24 March 2022

Smart shopping isn’t just about shopping less, it's about making smarter decisions about where, what, and how you buy. And Virgin Red, Virgin's rewards club, offers a wealth of ways to help members shop savvy.  What’s more, Virgin Points – Virgin Red’s universal currency – never expire so you can save your points until you’re ready to splash out on something special.

Stay cool

Smart shopping is about taking it slower and making more conscious choices. If you spot something irresistible while scrolling, screenshot and bookmark, or Pinterest it. Give yourself a cooling off period and if it’s still on your mind a few days later, then it might be worth buying. Sticking to a list of essentials will help you resist those impulse purchases and avoid buying something just because it’s reduced. Remember it’s only a good deal if you actually want or need the item in the first place. 


Practice money mindfulness

When all your cash is in one place, it’s easy to splurge. Set aside a money pot to spend on non-essentials and that way it’s harder to get swayed by discounts. Virgin Red members can earn points when they switch to Virgin Money’s M Plus Current Account which has no limit on the number of pots you can have, or the amount you can save in them. 

Shop off-season

Tactically target those end of season and flash sales; retailers need to move stock fast to make way for incoming trends, so if you have the storage space, you could end up making significant savings. Snap up swimwear in autumn, and winter wear like wool coats and cashmere in spring. Better yet, members of Virgin Red searching for a big brand bargain can bag themselves 2 Virgin Points per £1 at TKMaxx; rumour has it the best time to grab bargains are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings.


Waste not, want not 

Customising your clothes is a clever way to give your wardrobe a new lease of life. Bling up a shirt with a new set of sparkly buttons, turn a T-Shirt into a crop top, or deconstruct your denim and give those skinny jeans a second chance. And if you spot a small tear or hole, remember to darn it, don’t ditch it! 

Brand new secondhand

Charity shops are treasure troves for trend hunters. Take time to dig around and you’ll be sure to strike vintage gold. Cancer Research and Mind – both partners of Virgin Red – have charity shops on most UK high streets. Bargain hunters can also pocket 1 Virgin Point per £1 on secondhand stalwart Ebay, or scroll Etsy’s preloved selection. Buying preloved helps to reduce your fashion footprint too – good news for conscious shoppers. 

Declutter and donate

You might have heard the phrase ‘one man's trash is another man's treasure’, and donating your unwanted clothes – rather than leaving them in your wardrobe, or worse, throwing them out – is a great way to be a smarter, more sustainable shopper. Many high street brands now offer recycling initiatives; Nike has a Recycle + Donate scheme for your used athletic gear, and Adidas rewards customers for posting their unwanted clothes back to them. 

Person donating to charity shop

Green is the new black

With international events like Earth Day raising awareness of climate change and greener lifestyles, more shoppers are now demanding planet-friendly products.  And many brands are rising to the challenge and are taking steps to reduce their water and energy consumption and recycle old fibres. Both Adidas and Nike have extensive ranges made from recycled materials, including gear for workouts, looks for lounging and classic trainers like Stan Smith low tops.

Try before you buy

We all get excited for that unmissable deal and want it delivered to our doorstep ASAP, but next-day deliveries can have a negative carbon cost. Ordering multiple sizes and styles to try on at home has become the new normal, especially since the pandemic, but our ‘return culture’ is damaging the environment. Less than half of returns make it back on sale, and the rest end up in landfill or an incinerator. Now fitting rooms have reopened, trying something on in store is a smarter, more eco-friendly option.

Wear more, buy less

Before you hit ‘pay now’, ask yourself how many times you’ll wear something. Fashion insiders advise no less than 30 wears per piece. Aim to invest in timeless pieces you’ll get lots of wear out of, rather than fleeting fashion trends. Discover upcycled designer pieces and vintage one-offs at ASOS Marketplace while Notonthehighstreet and Etsy are two marketplaces that enable independent creators and small businesses to connect with customers. Both offer unique, handmade items, so if you’re in the market for a bespoke piece, you’ll be pleased to hear you can earn Virgin Points on your purchases, too.

Find out more about Virgin Red, the rewards club from Virgin, right here.

P.S. We always do our best to include the most up to date information but our offers do change from time to time. Click on each offer for the current points price and all the details.