Everyone knows you can save cash by shopping on the internet - but bricks-and-mortar firms are fighting back with unmissable deals of their own. PC Advisor weighs up your options. Here's how to save money today.

It used to be clear-cut: buying online saved you a tidy sum. With far lower overheads for office and retail space, e-commerce sites could set up shop for tens of pounds rather than tens of thousands, market themselves online with a few well-chosen keywords and banner adverts and undercut established stores by miles.

But after a few years of the web having things its own way, the high street is making a comeback, as concerns grow among prospective internet shoppers. Is it safe to enter credit-card details online? Will the product turn up? Is that identikit web store going to be around longer than it takes to bank your money? We've learned from bitter experience that chasing online bargains doesn't always pay.

Besides, these days you can barely amble down a high street, open a newspaper or magazine or switch on the TV or your PC without being bombarded with offers.

To find the best things to buy, check out PC Advisor's Christmas gift guide

Buy this - get something else free

Amid the clamour to slam down your debit card or splash your cash on yet another unbelievably good offer, we urge you to take a moment to reflect. Is it really such a good deal? Are there strings attached? How confident are you that the offer or the apparent bargain is as good as it seems?

You'd often be better off spending an extra pound - or even £20 - for the security and convenience of being able to pick up that laptop, console or whatever else your heart desires and take it to the till before tucking it under your arm and taking it home.

As we head for the buying frenzy of Christmas, we've compared the pros and cons of shopping online or on the high street to find where it's best to seek a good deal.

There are potential pitfalls wherever you buy, but the checklist we've put together over the following pages should help you enjoy a safe and economical shopping experience.

  1. Get the best deal: high street vs the web
  2. New web ways
  3. Trial and error
  4. Signed, sealed, delivered
  5. Going for a song
  6. Rare finds
  7. Safer shopping
  8. Final thoughts?
  9. Protection racket: your rights explained
  10. Money's too tight (to mention)
  11. Sphere of influence