Posted by Guest Writer
If you opted to stay out of the Black Friday frenzy, preferring to sleep in for a lazy day instead, you can still get some terrific deals. Sales continue throughout the weekend and right up to Christmas Eve. However, don’t jump at the first price tag you find: Read the fine print. Compare prices and availability. Combine coupons and discount codes online for maximum savings. And above all, choose the gifts for yourself and for others that will be appreciated by the receiver.
For maximum enjoyment without regret or frustration, here are a few simple and common-sense tips for holiday shopping online or offline.
1. Know that crowds swell at predictable times. Don’t be in a rush to make that quick trip to the mall during lunch. Odds are, you’re not the only one who thought of that, and you could easily be late getting back to work. Those easy side trips on the way home at night might be a better bet, provided you can avoid the worst of the rush-hour commute backlog. Try side streets instead of main thoroughfares and highways.
2. Early weekend mornings are best. If the items you want to purchase are not available online or are cheaper in a brick-and-mortar store from the lack of delivery charges, get to the store early. You don’t have to engage in sidewalk camping, but if you can arrive within an hour of the opening times, most shoppers are still at home with family or the morning newspaper. You avoid the worst of the crowds, and you get a fuller selection of merchandise, for most stores restock shelves at night.
3. Don’t assume you know the store’s discount policy. Holiday shopping times often spur adjusted policies. Ask management instead of cashiers for the most accurate information. If you know where you’re going before you head out the door, take a moment to call the location’s or chain’s Customer Service Department and ask about in-store discounts or their policy on coupons and discount codes you obtain online: Some store chains empower management to make local guidelines that contradict overall store chain policies.
4. Know the holiday purchase return policy. Some items on sale rest outside the normal return policy, for the store’s wholesale purchase targeted the holiday shopping period only. Returns or exchanges for other items may not be possible if the object in question was a test purchase or targeted purchase.
5. Beware of credit card theft. It’s not the store that is the concern but of people around you, nor it is physical theft that is central, though that’s still possible. It’s the card information that is the focal point here. As you present your credit card to the clerk to pay for that fantastic leather jacket you found on sale, there’s probably a cell phone with a camera somewhere to the side of you or behind you. It may be in a purse or a pocket, but it can also easily be out and capturing the image of your credit card. Always keep the card numbers and security code covered. You can “palm” the card as you hand it over for processing. Never leave it out as you sign the slip: As soon as you receive it back, always return the card to its slot immediately. Also, always secure your receipt in your wallet or purse – not a pocket or bag – before you leave the counter, and keep your wallet or purse tightly closed and secured to you.
This article’s author is Holly Miller, who writes for Coupon Croc, the best resource for savings on all of your holiday shopping this year.