Here comes the sun ñ it must be time to go shopping

When the going gets sunny, many Britons get shopping ñ at least for garden accessories. New research from Experian shows that the unusually warm weather in April sent people rushing to the Internet to search for items to help them make the most of the golden rays.

The research shows that the regular summer jump in web searches for garden furniture, barbecues and lawn mowers took an unexpectedly early hike this year, with searches for barbecues leaping 250 per cent in the four weeks to 9 April.

With almost twice the number of searches, it was a good deal on garden furniture that kept most surfers glued to their screens. In fact, they were so keen to ensure theyíd have somewhere comfortable to sit and enjoy the sunshine that visits to top garden furniture retails sites were up 5.3 per cent on April 2010.

With the al fresco seating and dining sorted, online shoppers turned their attention to the garden itself by searching for lawn mowers. Amazon.co.uk was the favourite retailer, receiving more traffic from searches than any other online store, with 6.23 per cent of all lawn mower search click-throughs.

ìAmazon.co.uk was closely followed by eBay.co.uk and direct.Tesco.com suggesting that savvy surfers were on the look out for an early summer bargain,î says Peter Turner, managing director of Experian Interactive.

ìBut, even with the help of the Internet, getting the garden ready for the summer can make quite a dent in your credit card balance. So it makes sense to check your finances are in good shape before you hit the mouse.î

These five tips could help.

1. Check your credit report. 
With a quality teak dining set likely to set you back between £700 and £2,000, you may need to apply for credit ñ which means youíll need a good credit history to get the best deal. This is held in your credit report, which lists your credit accounts and repayment record. Lenders use it to help them decide whether to make you an offer and what terms, such as interest, to set. That means you should  check it regularly to make sure itís accurate and up to date ñ then ask the relevant lender to amend anything you disagree with. Itís free to see your Experian credit report with a 30-day trial of CreditExpert.

2. Do the maths. 
With interest rates remaining at a record low, it may make sense to use a credit card or take out a loan to fund your purchases ñ especially if you can get an interest-free deal. But make sure you read all the small print before you commit or you could end up paying through the nose.

3. Build up your credit score It is vital to register to vote at your current address.
Lenders use information from the electoral roll to check who you say you are as a precaution against fraud, so if youíre not registered your credit rating may suffer – and any credit applications you make may be delayed while the lenders confirm your details some other way. Some applications may even be refused.

4. Tidy up your financial history Try to close any unused accounts.
Try to avoid overspending your credit cards and add a note to your credit report if special circumstances ñ an illness or accident, for example ñ are able to explain past problems. Above all, aim to make your repayments on time and in full. A missed or late repayment stays on your credit report for at least three years ñ it could cost you the garden idyll youíve been longing to create.

5. Be realistic If youíve got princely tastes but a pauperís budget.
Donít be tempted to overstretch yourself. Checking your credit report regularly will show you how well youíre managing your current commitments and whether you can afford to take on any more. You can see your Experian credit report and Experian Credit Score for free with a 30-day trial of CreditExpert.

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