Christmas Shopping Help

Here we go again - the run down to Christmas is underway. A humorous angle of an Australian Christmas is seeing oversized Little Drummer Men decorated up in the local mall ready for a march through the snow in blazing 35 degree sun, or reindeers all sledded up ready to go, despite the bitumen melting in the streets. Despite these observations, the silly season is upon us and it's time to go shopping for family and friends alike to share in the Christmas cheer.

The Internet can be a valuable tool in searching for information about a product, but we would also like to share three websites that we think may save you more than a dollar or two.

In the Australian context, ShopBot and StaticIce are two websites that provide an exhaustive database search allowing users to see supplier listings of a particular product. Keen to know what the price is of a Playstation 3, the various iPod's, or a 4Gb Sony Memory Stick upgrade for your electronic camera before you leave home, then spending a few minutes with these two sites lets you know a good base line before you meet the salesman on the shop floor.

Both Static Ice and Shop Bot are Australian, and show the product detail and pricing from multiple suppliers, so you can be sure that the competition is strong and allow some extra spending room for the chocolate and lollies in those Christmas sacks.

Unlike a few Christmas' ago, when one Australian dollar was worth only half a $US, we've been getting awfully close to parity lately; which makes shopping in the US much more appealing.

While many large manufacturers - especially the likes of Apple - go to extraordinary lengths to maintain price levels across currencies, the size of the US market has stopped many companies from raising their prices as the US Dollar has fallen. Unfortunately, a large number of Australian retailers are pocketing the exchange rate saving as extra-normal profit!

As an example, and iPod Classic 80Gb is 27% more expensive in Australia than it is in the US. The trick is to buy from American retailers who'll ship the product you're looking for to Australia. While Amazon will happily ship you some things, it won't ship you an iPod - to help find someone who will, use Bountii - or alternatively, if you've got a friend in the US, and they're prepared to send things on, ship it to them instead.

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