You should try these game-changing Zara shopping hacks

We've got the inside scoop.

(Image credit: Zara)

As Zara enthusiasts, we've collected a few shopping hacks over the year, both from former employees and from our own shopping excursions online and in-store. So whether you're planning on purchasing a new winter coat, some ankle boots or a pair of jeans, these tips will make things that much easier.

From Zara's return policy to the best day to shop so you don't miss out on new items, consider this your ultimate cheat sheet for all the Zara shopping hacks you need to know, to help you save a bit of time and money. Don't worry, you can thanks us later. 

Zara's returns policy

A while back, Zara made a significant change to its return policy. Where before it was free to return an item at a drop point (useful for online orders), you now have to pay £1.95 for this service, which will be deducted from your refund. 

However you can get around this by returning your item to a store, which is still free, though not very convenient if you don't live near a store. You still have 30 days to return your unwanted items.

How to make browsing easier

There is no denying the Zara website is visually beautiful, thanks to its many editorial shoots and videos. However it makes it difficult to browse and shop. But we've got a tip for you. If you go to the top right of the site in any section, you'll see three icons: a square, two side-by-side rectangles and four small squares. Click on the second or third options, and the products will appear in an orderly fashion, skipping the moving images and pretty shoots that aren't that useful to your browsing.

This way, you'll be able to see and shop all the products on the page, much more easily.

Buy second hand Zara

At the end of last year, Zara made its foray into the resale market by launching its Resell platform, where you can buy and sell pre-owned items. Not only is this a great way to practice circularity, but you can also grab a bargain and get your hands on sold-out items you might have missed out on previously. There are plenty of items that are new with tags (you can search for these using the filters on the top right). Currently there are items on sale for as little as £2 for a top.

Repair Zara clothing

As part of the Zara Pre-Owned program, you can also get your clothing and accessories fixed in workshops so they can last longer. This isn't a free service, you'll need to pay £5.50 for shipping, and then a separate fee depending on the issue, eg £3 for a button, £15 for a zip replacement or to fix a hem.

The best days to shop at Zara

According to Zara employees, new stock arrives on Mondays and Thursdays, so that's the best time to get your hands on new items. Stock gets unpacked in the morning, so you're better off waiting until later in the morning to shop - but before lunch time so the shop isn't packed. Online, stock gets updated daily, so keep your eyes peeled.

The best time to shop at Zara

In terms of going into a store, it's pretty obvious that the morning is the best time of day to go. Fresh stock will be put out and everything will be ordered nicely, plus there won't be many people around, meaning you can beat the queues both at the changing rooms and at checkout. As soon as 1pm hits though, the queues will snake around the shop as people on their lunch breaks try to buy something.

How to find the best discounts in the sale

Apparently, Zara employees are told to put the most expensive sale items at the front of the store, in the hope that these will go first. So, if you want to grab a real bargain, head to the back of the store or rack. This is often where you'll find the dregs of the sale even after it's officially ended. Annoyingly, the most popular items will be the less discounted, so it's worth being open-minded with what you're looking for. 

How to get faster shipping at Zara

This doesn't necessarily work every time, but I've noticed that if I get an item shipped to a store, it's usually available much quicker for pickup (usually the next day) than it advertises (which is 2-3 working days). Of course, this'll depend on the stock at your nearest store. Plus, this way you get free delivery, and it's more environmentally friendly as it'll likely be delivered with other stock or orders.

If you're desperate and live in London, you can get same day delivery for £7.95, Monday to Sunday, as long as you buy your item before 2pm.

Does Zara still do special prices?

Although it's not advertised as a sale, the Zara Special Prices section is essentially a sale. You'll find it in the dropdown section under 'women' in pink font, so you can't miss it.

In there, you’ll find clothing from every category, from dresses to coats and shoes, some of them reduced by as much as 60% off. Although it used to be Zara's more basic pieces, now it seems to even include current collections.

Zara sold out items

Missed out on an item? Most Zara best-sellers often get restocked, even a year later if they've been extra popular. These are often to be found in the 'Must Haves' section, based on shoppers' buying and searching behaviour. 

If an item is on the verge of being re-stocked, it'll have a 'coming soon' message with an envelope next to the sold out size. Click on it to add your email address, then you'll be alerted by email as soon as it gets re-stocked.

Zara has also started adding new products before they launch, as a kind of 'sneak peek' so this is a good way to ensure you don't miss out on new launches.

Be aware that you won't be the only person signed up for these alerts, so be quick to log on to the site as soon as you get the email.

You can also check the availability of the item in store, but I've found that the tool isn't always accurate, as it can take a few hours for the store's stocks to align with the online ones.

Zara discount codes

That's the one hack I can't help you with, Zara still doesn't do discount codes, so you'll just have to wait for the sales to grab a bargain.

Zara sales 2023 UK

On top of the two big annual end of season sales, there are a few smaller ones peppered throughout the year.

Zara doesn't give you much of a heads up as to when it'll host a sale, so the best way to know in advance is to sign up to the newsletter, because you will usually get notified a few days in advance.

My top tip: create an account if you haven't already and save any items you've got your eye on. This way you can easily see which items have been reduced and add them to your shopping basket quickly.

If you want extra discounts, it's worth being patient. Historically, although Zara sales start with an 'up to 50% off message', not all items are reduced by that much. If you can wait a week or two, more lines will be added to the sale and discounts will increase.

Zara free delivery

The cheapest way to get your Zara order delivered is to get it sent directly to a store of your choice, for free. However, if you're spending over £50, then your shipping will be free regardless. Standard delivery is £3.95 and takes 2-3 days.

If you'd like guaranteed next-day delivery, Zara charges £4.95. Or if you'd like same-day delivery within London, the brand charges £7.95. Be mindful though, that you are only eligible for same-day delivery if you're within London and your order is placed before 2 PM.

Zara beauty hack

If you're looking to stock up on some makeup, you have to check out the Zara Beauty section. It features stunning eyeshadow, lipstick, nail polish and accessories in cruelty-free formulas, beautiful refillable packaging and over 130 dreamy colours. With prices starting at just £5.99, the Zara beauty section is well worth it.

Zara home hack

This tip doesn’t actually involve the main site, but instead Zara home. Did you know that as well as homeware, Zara Home sells some amazing loungewear too? It’s not all cheap but there are some great pieces like trousers and tunics for under £30.

Penny Goldstone

Penny Goldstone is the Digital Fashion Editor at Marie Claire, covering everything from catwalk trends to royal fashion and the latest high street and Instagram must-haves.

Penny grew up in France and studied languages and law at the Sorbonne Nouvelle University in Paris before moving to the UK for her MA in multimedia journalism at Bournemouth University. She moved to the UK permanently and has never looked back (though she does go back regularly to stock up on cheese and wine).

Although she's always loved fashion - she used to create scrapbooks of her favourite trends and looks, including Sienna Miller and Kate Moss' boho phase - her first job was at, sourcing the best deals for everything from restaurants to designer sales.

However she quit after two years to follow her true passion, fashion journalism, and after many years of internships and freelance stints at magazines including Red, Cosmopolitan, Stylist and Good Housekeeping, landed her dream job as the Digital Fashion Editor at Marie Claire UK.

Her favourite part of the job is discovering new brands and meeting designers, and travelling the world to attend events and fashion shows. Seeing her first Chanel runway IRL at Paris Fashion Week was a true pinch-me moment.