Home for the Holidays Shopping
November 25th, 2017 by Curtis Condon

Nearly two-thirds (64-percent) of Americans still prefer to shop at brick-and-mortar stores, but
79 percent of them do at least some of their shopping online, according to the Pew Research Center. Photo by Lightfield Studios

17 tips to make your Christmas shopping experience merrier

  • Shop Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Those are the days when most online retailers post their latest sales, incentives and discount codes.
  • Use technology to streamline your holiday shopping, including tracking sales, item prices, coupons and discount codes. Check apps such as Ibotta, Flipp, Camel Camel Camel and Honey.
  • Score free or discounted gift cards from reputable online sources such as Swagbucks, Cardpool, Raise and Giftcards.com. They offer discount gift cards for hundreds of national retailers.

Sometimes It’s the Little Things

  • If you have the time and the patience, add items to your online shopping cart and leave them there. Retailers want the sale, so they may offer you additional discounts or other incentives to close the deal.
  • Delete your browsing history—including cookies—before embarking on an evening of online shopping. Some online retailers use that information to offer different prices to different people for the same products. It is called dynamic pricing.
  • Competition amongst retailers is fierce during the holidays, creating pressure to match competitors’ prices. Don’t be afraid to call or email a retailer to ask for a price match.
  • Subscribe to retailers’ email newsletters. Often, they send subscribers discount codes and notification of subscriber-only flash sales. That goes for social media, too. “Like” and follow your favorite brands and retailers.
  • Not sure what is a good price for a particular item? Put the item in your shopping cart to reserve it, then search the internet to compare prices. Many online retailers reserve items in your cart for anywhere from 5 minutes to 24 hours—or longer. Beware: Not all sites reserve items in shopping carts. Some—such as Amazon—don’t reserve items until you commit to buy them.

Shop Safe and Secure

  • Whenever possible, avoid shopping at unrecognized retailers and shopping sites.
  • Pay for online purchases with a credit card. Credit cards offer users extra protection against unscrupulous retailers and the ability to dispute charges, when necessary.
  • Protect your credit card information when ordering online by checking to make sure the website address begins with “https”; the “s” means the website is secure, and your financial information will be encrypted.
  • Buy gift cards directly from the retailer or through a recognized gift card broker. Avoid buying them third-party, such as from sellers on eBay.
  • Make sure the retailer has a good return policy, preferably one that provides a return authorization and pays return shipping.
  • Many retailers offer incentives and discount codes to visit, like and share them on social media. Take the discount, then delete the like/share if you want to avoid future marketing pitches and clutter.
  • Avoid shopping from unsecured Wi-Fi hotspots, such as those at many hotels, restaurants, coffee shops and other retailers. Shop from home or use a virtual private network (VPN) when on the road.

After the Holidays

  • Watch for deep discounts at clearance sales right after Christmas and during the first week of the new year.
  • Check your credit card and bank statements to verify you were charged correctly.