You don’t need us to tell you that everything is costing a fortune these days and finances are looking generally grim for most of us.
But that feels particularly upsetting with Christmas now on most people’s minds – no one wants to be cutting corners when it comes to spoiling our loved ones and celebrating together.
So we’ve found the solution to all your festive budgeting woes, in the form of a tiny maze of a shop in Manchester city centre.
Sostrene Grene, a Danish retailer based in The Royal Exchange, is an absolute haven for tasteful gifts and trinkets, as well as homewares, craft supplies and those all-unimportant-but-absolutely-magical Christmas decorations.
The brand is often labelled a ‘mini Ikea’, thanks to two things – one that it sells just about everything you can think of for your home, the other that shoppers are taken on a one-way maze through the departments.
It’s a place to buy all the annoying things you can never think where to go for – like napkin rings, nail clippers, kids’ craft kits, and egg cups – which also makes it a great place for gift inspiration.
At this time of year, you enter into a little Scandinavian Christmas wonderland, with a forest of decorative pine trees made from wood, ceramics and even paper, as well as dangling paper snowflakes.
There’s a whole wall of reasonably-priced wrapping paper and gift bags (£1.54 for wrapping paper is a darn sight cheaper than some of the big brands nearby).
Further into Sostrene Grene you’ll find even more Christmas wonder, like an eclectic range of baubles, so you could have a sparkling panda peering through the branches of your pine tree or a glittery croissant dangling amidst your fairy lights.
There’s even a festive section in the craft area, where you can pick up the bits to make your own wreath or build your own Scandinavian nativity scene, down to mini felt deer, tiny post-boxes and even miniature fairy lights.
Elsewhere, craft fans can browse a massive range of yarn and string, canvases and paint brushes, jewellery-making kits and more.
The craft section. Credit: The Manc Group
Things that are normally incomprehensibly expensive, like picture frames and mirrors, are far more affordable here than you might expect (around £25 for a huge mirror that looks straight off a Pinterest board).
The same goes for things like candles and decorative jars – there are rows and rows of candlesticks and pillar candles in a rainbow of colours for just 40p each.
The bathroom and candles sections. Credit: The Manc Group
You can buy things like a back-scratcher here, or a ceramic loo brush that’s so beautifully made you’d be tempted to display it on a shelf (if that wasn’t gross).
The surprising bargains continue in the kitchen section too, with things like glass and wooden jars in various sizes for around the £4 mark – we can never understand why other shops charge so much for these things.
There are pizza cutters and place settings, colanders and cutting boards, baking trays and beautiful ceramic bowls.
You can even buy retro sweets while you’re queueing up for the tills – we’re talking the sort of hard-boiled fruity sweet that your parents would also chuck at your intermittently to keep you quiet on long car journeys.
Sostrene Grene looks better than ever now that Christmas is nearing, each window transformed into a welcoming scene.
Would the staff judge you for pulling up a chair at the dining table covered in dishes and novelty festive glasses? We might go and find out.
Tesco to make Clubcard prices ‘clearer’ in stores following watchdog advice
Tesco is to start making Clubcard Prices “even clearer” in stores across the UK after a row with the leading consumer watchdog.
The supermarket‘s Clubcard loyalty scheme has more than 20 million people signed-up nationwide, making it one of the most popular of its kind on the market, by far – but over the coming weeks, members will start to see changes in the way Clubcard Prices are displayed when they’re shopping in Tesco stores.
The retailer has been advised to make the prices “even clearer” by the UK’s leading consumer watchdog.
It’s all to do with unit pricing, as Which? had said that Tesco’s decision not to display this on its Clubcard offers could, essentially, be breaking the law.
Tesco has been ordered to make Clubcard prices ‘clearer’ in stores / Credit: The Manc Group
According to BBC claims, Which? reported Tesco to the regulator, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), in June of last year, as competition rules state that unit prices could be seen as “material information”.
This means that they’re something most people would need in order to make an informed decision about how to get the best value from what they buy.
But while Tesco apparently said at the time that Which?’s claims were “ill-founded”, it looks to have changed its tune now, as the supermarket’s bosses have this week announced that unit prices will now be displayed in stores.
Consumer watchdog Which? said the supermarket could be breaking the law unless it displayed ‘unit prices’ / Credit: The Manc Group
Tesco’s UK CEO Jason Tarry said the retailer is “working harder than ever” to help make sure customers get “great value” when they shop in stores nationwide.
“We want our customers to be able to see just how well these offers stack up,” Mr Tarry said.
“If you are in store, you will now start to see that the way that we display our Clubcard Prices will not only show the total price, but also the unit price of the product (by volume or weight), to allow a direct comparison of the price per unit between the Clubcard Prices offer and the price of alternative products.”
The changes will start being introduced in all UK stores over the coming weeks / Credit: Tesco plc
Mr Tarry claims this is something Tesco’s been “planning to do for some time”, and is “pleased” the retailer is now ready to make the change.
He continued: “Over the coming weeks, these changes will appear in all our stores, as our colleagues update millions of price labels on the shelf edge, and we will also be adding these unit prices to our Clubcard Prices deals online.
“It may be just a little extra help, but we know that every little really does help at the moment.”
Featured Image – The Manc Group
Aldi launches competition to design an Easter egg that’ll go on sale in all its UK stores
Aldi has launched a brand-new competition giving people the chance to design an Easter egg that’ll go on sale in all its UK stores.
With one of the sweetest times of the year only a matter of weeks away now, the retailer is calling on budding designers and chocolate lovers of all ages and abilities to “reach for the colouring pencils” and get involved with its new “egg-stra special” competition to create your very-own Easter egg.
You could be in with the chance of seeing your design displayed on Aldi’s shelves next year.
Whether it’s a space-themed look, an under the sea special, or even a botanical masterpiece, the supermarket will select one Easter egg design to join its 2025 range.
Aldi has launched a brand-new Easter egg design competition / Credit: Aldi UK
Not only will the lucky winner see their sugary creation in Aldi stores all across the UK, but on top of that, they’ll also get the chance to go on an exclusive day-out for a unique chocolate tasting experience.
All you need is a bit of creative flair and a love for chocolate to enter.
“Launching this new competition is a fantastic chance for shoppers to deliver the Easter products they truly want to see on shelves,” Aldi UK’s Managing Director of Buying, Julie Ashfield, commented as the design competition launched this week.
“Our Easter egg range grows in variety and excitement each year, so there’s no better way to continue this tradition than collaborating with our customers to create a new Easter masterpiece.”
The winning egg design will go on sale at all Aldi’s UK stores next year / Credit: Aldi UK
Fancy sticking an entry in then?
You can get involved by downloading the drawing guideline that’s available on the dedicated ‘Design an Easter Egg’ web page here, and then sending your design to the entry email address [email protected], along with your name, age, and a brief description of why your design would make the perfect addition to Aldi’s Easter range.