The up side to a poor summer is that the shops are packed to the gunwhales with bargains and now they need to shift those seasonal goods out of the door to make way for new stock.

So what are you waiting for? Now is the very best time to do your gift shopping, birthdays, anniversaries and, oh yes you’ve guessed it, Christmas.

I hate to bring the subject up but it has to be said that hitting the sales now will save you lots of cash in the long run, but you need to be prepared.

Here’s how it’s done…

1. Make a list of people you need to buy for.

2. Check clothing and shoe sizes carefully as sale goods are often not returnable and of course if you are buying for later in the year any exchange period will be long gone.

3.When buying for children make sure that they won’t have outgrown it but the time you give it to them.

4. Don’t scatter things around the house, find a place to keep all of your bargains in so that you can find them easily when the time comes.

5. Use Post It notes to remind you who the gifts are for.

6. To avoid duplicating gifts, keep your list up to date.

Bargains can be found at most retailers, but the biggest discounts are usually found on seasonal goods: garden and gardening, outdoor toys, clothes and shoes.

If you are shopping online, don’t forget that most of the big online retails have a clearance department, but some don’t include the tab on their main site. Simply search for your retailer and add ‘clearance’, ’outlet’ or offers to your search for everything from Argos to Aspinal, it’s worth a try as you may strike lucky!