Yonkers, NY – With the holiday season in full swing, it can often be hard to shop smart once you hit the stores. The December 2011 issue of ShopSmart magazine, from the publisher of Consumer Reports, has tips that will help get all of your holiday shopping done without blowing your budget.
“A lot of factors influence how you shop when you head out to the stores,” said Lisa Lee Freeman, editor-in-chief of ShopSmart. “Everything from who you’re shopping with to whether or not you’ve made a budget in advance can influence your purchase decisions. To help you shop smarter, ShopSmart came up with some simple ways to stay focused, save big, and not get swept away in the holiday frenzy.”
Follow these 4 steps.
- Shop alone. You’ll spend less time and money.
- Make a budget. Then add 10 percent for wrapping, packing, and last-minute buying for people who surprise you with a gift. (Buy a few nice things on sale to have on hand).
- Pay cash when possible. People who use plastic tend to spend more.
- Haggle. Most shoppers don’t try to negotiate, but those who did said that they saved an average of $82.00 in stores on TVs, cameras, and other consumer electronics.
Get free shipping.
Order online before Friday, December 16th – which is this year’s Free Shipping Day and the last day to buy from more than 2,000 retailers – and have gifts delivered for free by Christmas Eve. Get details on FreeShippingDay.com.
Save on shipping all year-round.
More major e-tailers are offering free shipping with no minimum purchase required. They include L.L.Bean, Nordstrom, and shoe sites Endless, Piperlime, and Zappos. Others, including Best Buy and Pottery Barn, ship select items for free. Look for free-ship promotions at FreeShipping.org.
Also, avoid paying extra for mailing last-minute gifts. Put these deadlines for ground shipping on your calendar: December 15th for the U.S. Postal Service and December 16th for UPS and FedEx.
Let the deals come to you.
Last month we told you to go to sites like BlackFriday.info and TheBlackFriday.com for holiday bargains. Keep checking those sites, but once you hit the mall, FatWallet’s free Black Friday iPhone app will become your new best friend. It sends you sale alerts so you’ll never miss a markdown. Other apps to use: Black Friday Survival Guide for iPhone and Black Friday App for Android.
Hit the Outlets.
They’re a great place to save if you know how to spot the good stuff. Our fabrics expert recently compared outlet and regular-store items and found that the latter were generally better quality. But there were a few exceptions, and they’re all popular gifts: Gap cotton boxer shorts, polo shirts, and T-shirts. The outlet versions turned out to be even better than those we found at regular stores and they cost as little as half the price! Also snap up Brooks Bros. silk ties. They’re about 24 percent cheaper than the silk/cotton blend sold in regular retail stores, and they’re made in America.
Give them what they want.
Stressed about what to buy a picky friend? See if she has an Amazon Wish List (amazon.com/wishlist) or go to Facebook and see if the new “Want” button is up and running. To chip in on a group gift, try eBay’s new Group Gifts service. Pick a present, invite friends to contribute at Groupgifts.ebay.com, collect the money online, and send the gift from eBay.
About Consumer Reports
Consumer Reports is the world’s largest independent product-testing organization. Using its more than 50 labs, auto test center, and survey research center, the nonprofit rates thousands of products and services annually. Founded in 1936, Consumer Reports has over 8 million subscribers to its magazine, website, and other publications. Its advocacy division, Consumers Union, works for health reform, food and product safety, financial reform, and other consumer issues in Washington, D.C., the states, and in the marketplace.
About ShopSmart magazine
Launched in Fall 2006 by Consumer Reports, ShopSmart draws upon the publication’s celebrated tradition of accepting no advertisements and providing unbiased product reviews. ShopSmart features product reviews, shopping tips on how to get the most out of products and “best of the best” lists. It’s ideal for busy shoppers who place a premium on time. ShopSmart has a newsstand price of $4.99 and is available nationwide at major retailers including Barnes & Noble, Wal-Mart, Borders, Kroger, Safeway and Publix. ShopSmart is available by subscription at www.ShopSmartmag.org.