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Holiday Shopping Tips

Contents:

Black Friday Tips

Online Shopping Tips

NRF's Top 5 Tips for Shopping on a Budget

NRF's Top Tips for Smart Holiday Shopping
 

Holiday/Black Friday Shopping Tips

Fail to prepare = prepare to fail! Make your holiday shopping trips  as successful (and enjoyable!) as possible by following these tips from the National Retail Federation


Before Black Friday
  • Make a list of absolutely everyone you need to buy for and how much you plan to spend on them before visiting any store. Be sure to remember any co-workers, teachers and other non-family and friends. If you know who you need to buy for and how much you can afford to spend, you can make best use of retailers ‘Buy Two Get Third Free’ type deals.
  • Use the Internet to check and compare prices and products before heading out the door. You can also sign up to receive emails from your favorite retailers. Be vigilant about searching for holiday promotions in newspapers and on their website as well. Not only will you save time by researching ahead of time, you’ll also save money on gas by not driving all over town.
  • Know retailers’ return and exchange policies. Return policies vary, so knowing ahead of time whether or not you will have to ship back returns or exchanges or if you can return them to the physical store in your area will help in the long run.
On Black Friday
  • Remember when gift shopping you are buying for someone else’s wants and needs, not your own. Deciding whether you like a certain item isn’t really the point… The question is, will Great Aunt Margaret like it? Having said that, don’t be afraid to take full advantage of holiday promotions you see on products you would like yourself. Treat yourself to something nice!
  • Save yourself the guesswork and buy gift cards, especially for babysitters, newspaper carriers, doormen, teachers and other recipients of smaller-value gifts. They are a perfect way to let gift recipients choose what they want and a great way to stick to a budget.
  • When walking through the mall or down Main Street, wear comfortable shoes! You’ll be walking on a lot of marble, concrete and tile. Make sure you have water and snacks with you too, or stop for lunch. This will give you time to check your list and prioritize the rest of the time you have that day.

After you’ve made your purchases

  • Staple a gift receipt to the merchandise tag in case it needs to be returned or exchanged. Keep your original receipts with any warranty paperwork for the life of the warranty.
  • Save yourself the headache: let the charity group at the mall wrap your gifts for you.  This will save you a lot of time and free you up to do other things on your holiday to-do lists.
  • Get any packages you are sending to people in the mail right away. Things are only going to get busier from here on out!
Online Shopping Tips
  1. Plan Ahead. Having a set list of gifts you intend to buy helps minimize confusion, especially if you intend to make multiple purchases through several websites. Shop.org encourages consumers to start their online holiday shopping at http://www.cybermonday.com/, a site that will offer current promotions of more than 500 online retailers throughout the holiday season.
  2. Use common sense. A golden rule of online shopping is that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is and you should avoid it. Shop with retailers that you trust. If you aren’t familiar with an online retailer, look for privacy and security seals, which indicate that their security and privacy measures have been verified, or use a site like BizRate.com to determine other peoples’ shopping experiences from that merchant.
  3. Ensure your gifts arrive in time. Check retailers’ shipping deadlines, which are featured prominently on most retail websites. The information often lists the last day  that customers can place orders for arrival by Christmas or Hanukkah.
  4. Know retailers’ return and exchange policies. Return policies vary, so knowing ahead of time whether or not you will have to ship back returns or exchanges or if you can return them to the physical store in your area will help in the long run. Also be sure to find out who covers the cost of shipping if you need to return or exchange an item.
  5. Ship gifts directly to the recipient. Most online retailers can ship items to a different location than your billing address. During the holiday season, when many people are traveling, take advantage of this feature by sending gifts ahead of your arrival. Some companies can even ship pieces from a single order to multiple locations so you don’t have to lug holiday gifts all across the country.
  6. For instant gratification (or holiday procrastinators), buy online then pick up in the store. Many retailers offer a “buy online, pick up in store” option. Check with your favorite retailers to see if this is a service they offer, then skip the crowds and head straight to the customer service counter where your items will be waiting.
  7. Read the fine print. Retailers list important information such as privacy policies, warranty information, item descriptions, terms of agreement and company information on their websites. Much of this information is very useful, but is displayed in a smaller font. 
  8. If you aren’t comfortable paying with a credit card, research other payment options. Retailers place a tremendous importance on keeping their websites safe and protecting customers’ information. But for shoppers who are still nervous about paying by credit card, other options are often available. Online retailers offer a variety of services, from letting customers fax in an online order to accepting third-party payment options. Some retailers also allow gift cards to be redeemed online.
  9. “Check it Twice” before confirming purchase. Before you complete an online purchase, double-check billing and credit card information, shipping address and total cost of the order. This will eliminate any potential panic after you’ve hit the final “confirm” or “submit” button. And remember not to click “submit” twice.
  10. Start a file folder. First, print and save all confirmations of your purchases. This will help in many ways, from returning or exchanging items to verifying credit card or bank statements. Also, write down each purchase. It’s easy to forget how much you’ve spent if you don’t keep track. This will help both holiday spending on a budget and balancing your checkbook.
NRF’s Top 5 Tips for Shopping on a Budget


Smart shoppers come prepared when they hit the stores for their holiday shopping trip extravaganza, but some, believe it or not, need a bit more help navigating their way around the holiday season. For those that are planning on shopping on a budget this year, here are a few tips from our resident expert Dan Butler, Vice President Retail Operations: 
  

  1. Spread out your holiday purchases throughout the year—or at least throughout the holiday season. Shopping last minute often results in making additional purchases you don’t need because you are feeling rushed and frenzied.
  2. Make a list of absolutely everyone you need to buy for and how much you plan to spend on them before visiting any store or website, and stick to it.
  3. Sign up to receive emails from your favorite retailers. NRF is anticipating an extremely promotional holiday season and many sales may only be offered to a retailer’s most loyal customers. Be vigilant about searching for holiday promotions in newspapers and on their website as well.
  4. Use the Internet to compare prices and products before setting foot in a store. Not only will you save time by researching ahead of time, you’ll also save money on gas by not driving all over town!
  5. Save yourself the guesswork and buy gift cards, especially for babysitters, newspaper carriers, doormen, teachers and other recipients of smaller-value gifts. Gift cards are a great way to let gift recipients choose what they want and it’s an easy way to stick to a budget.


NRF’s Top Tips for Smart Holiday Shopping

  1. Shop after 6:00 p.m. the evening before a sale is advertised to begin. Many retailers program the registers the night before, so the sale may already come up in the register even if they have not changed out signs on the selling floor yet. Ask the associate in advance for any possible upcoming sales, especially on big ticket items.
  2. Prepare a list to use while you are shopping. Make sure to include alternative selections in case you are unable to find some of the items on your list.
  3. Avoid crowds by shopping during stores’ early and late extended hours.
  4. If you are looking for specific advertised items, take the complete ad with you so that you don’t end up in the wrong store looking for a specific price.
  5. Staple a gift receipt to the merchandise tag in case it needs to be returned or exchanged. Keep your original receipts with any warranty paperwork for the life of the warranty.
  6. Remember when gift shopping you are buying for someone else’s wants and needs, not your own.  But don’t be afraid to take full advantage holiday promotions treat yourself to something nice!
  7. Shop safely! Watch your personal belongings at all times including handbags and purchases. The stores are not responsible for any lost items so be careful, especially at the register when you can get easily distracted by the transaction itself.
  8. Save yourself the headache: let the charity group at the mall wrap your gifts for you.  This will save you a lot of time and free you up to do other things on your holiday to-do lists.
  9. When shopping online, have your credit cards and address book handy.  Many websites have timed windows to complete a transaction, so you need to have shipping information at your fingertips.
  10. When walking through the mall or down Main Street, wear comfortable shoes! You’ll be walking on a lot of marble, concrete and tile.
  11. Only buy gift cards from reputable retailers, not through online auction sites. Gift cards sold through online auction sites may be counterfeit or have been obtained illegally.
  12. Make sure you have personal credit card information available at home in the event you lose a credit card while shopping. Important back up information includes customer service phone numbers, PIN numbers and account numbers.
  13. Be vigilant. Make sure to stash your cash in a safe place within a wallet while shopping. When paying with cash at the register, only pull out of your wallet what the amount totals, not the entire stash. This also applies to personal items you carry through the stores, including shopping bags and purses.
  14. When parking in a large parking lot, make sure to keep all items in the trunk of the car and out of sight. It also helps to park near a light if you know you it will be dark by the time you are done. Mentally locate the nearest security office or officers in case an emergency occurs you can easily track down appropriate personnel.