It’s been a rough year for retail and restaurants since the COVID-19 lockdowns starting shutting their doors. Now that non-essential businesses are being allowed to open up, at least partially, they’re going to be keen to get your attention. That’s going to make it a good time to grab some impressive bargains, wherever you shop, drink or eat out.

Of course, we’re not exactly out of the woods yet. Even so, pubs, restaurants and other hospitality-type businesses are allowed to serve food indoors again – although not all have started to do so. Meanwhile, non-essential shops have been looking for ways to draw in people who’ve spent the last year buying everything from behind a computer screen. While we’re all struggling to get used to the “old normal”, here are a few tips on finding the best stop-offs on the road out of lockdown, as well as a little something extra we're giving away!

Good, old-fashioned discounts

There’s nothing like a sale for bagging a bargain at a discount price. The lockdown has seen a lot of retailers stuck with piled up products that they’re getting desperate to shift. This makes for some prime pickings if you keep your wits about you. Retailers from Debenhams to Matalan are hacking chunks off their asking prices, with sale offers hitting as much as 90% off RRP in some cases. Obviously, you’ll want to check around online to make sure you’re zeroing in on the best offer you can, but smart shoppers are used to doing that anyway.

Watch out for freebies and free trials

Whatever you’re shopping for, you might find you can get a lot more for your money even when the price you’re paying hasn’t dropped. Maybe you’ll score a free side order with your takeaway meal, maybe it’ll be an unexpected 2-for-1 deal on something completely unrelated to what you’re buying. Compare the Market’s Meerkat Meals scheme, for example, can bag you freebies at restaurants when you sign up for insurance through them. Weird, but worth knowing.

Sign up for the best offers

It can be hard work being a wise shopper these days. Tracking down the best bargains can practically be a full-time job. Maybe you’d be better off hand-picking the kinds of deals you want to be offered, and then having them delivered straight to your email inbox.

All kinds of retailers run mailing lists for their customers. It’s a great way to keep your business up-front in people’s minds, and to reward your customers for sticking with you. In fact, it works so well that many retail, food and other businesses will send out exclusive deals and offers just for signing up.

There can be some quite specific conditions to be aware of when you bag a bargain this way. You usually won’t be able to combine your money-off deal with any other offer, for instance. Even so, it costs you nothing to sign up and the rewards can be pretty worthwhile.

Hunt down vouchers

If you know what you’re doing, you often won’t even need to sign up to a newsletter to grab some decent discounts. As long as you’re prepared to do a little digital legwork, you can track down a lot of the best bargains on your own. You won’t always find anything you’re actually interested in, but a few minutes on Google can sometimes dig up a few voucher codes that’ll be worth their weight in gold – or at least Golden Wonder.

Depending on what you search for, you could find yourself with fistfuls of virtual vouchers for anything from trainers to train rides. Again, it cost you nothing but a few minutes of your time to do, and you might be surprised at what you find.

The roadmap out of lockdown might still seem pretty long and twisted, but it’s starting to feel like we’re well and truly on our way. Businesses all over the country are going to be clamouring for your attention and cash now. Just a little bit of forethought could land you exactly the deal you need to celebrate the UK opening up in style.

RIFT are the UK's leading tax rebate specialists, reclaiming money from HMRC and putting money back in the publics pockets. If you've not checked if you're due a tax refund yet, just answer 4 simple questions and see if you're owed money back. You could find your spending power boosted by around £2,500 with your first claim.

Talking of vouchers, we've got one you can WIN!

To celebrate the re-opening of shops and a return to the Highstreet we're giving away a £50 Love2Shop voucher to 1 lucky winner.

We all love having a bit of extra cash in our pocket and treating ourselves to something new so with this £50 voucher you can do exactly that!

Head over to our Instagram page to find out how you can enter: @rift_refunds