As “Black Friday” kicks off the holiday shopping frenzy, Americans get anxious about crowded shops and long lines. We have some helpful tips to steady your nerves and help boost your shopping experience. Whether you are browsing the Internet or waiting in line before the birds are up and singing, these guidelines may help alleviate some holiday stress.
Do Your Research
Have a game plan to avoid overspending. Sometimes a bad product can be a bad deal no matter how cheap it is! Look online or ask store professionals before the big sale to see what is worth a wait in line, especially for those door-buster items that come deeply discounted and in limited quantities.
Look in your local newspaper. It will be chock full of coupons, advertisements, and time-specific deadlines. For example, “receive an extra 15% off if you shop before 10 a.m.” It will point you to the nearest local stores and help you prioritize your route. Take coupons with you; they may help if you come upon a store having an unadvertised sale.
Some stores are still price-matching, even on Black Friday. They may meet the lowered price of another retail store without forcing you to leave theirs. You can even find cell-phone applications that enable you to price-match directly from where you are. Frucall is an online service that uses a toll-free number. Others may require Web browsing or text messaging capabilities and certain charges may apply. Other programs include Slifter, 4INFO, and Scanbuy Shopper.
Using online tools such as PriceGrabber.com can help relieve worries that you didn’t get the best deal possible. Also, look for “Web-only” deals that may be posted as early as the night before Thanksgiving (amazon.com/blackfriday and shopthepost.com, for example). Many products may be purchased online and picked up at your local store the day of the sale.
Know the return policies of stores. (Some do not extend their sale days’ return policies.) Gift receipts are a must! As retailers are clamping down on return policies, many gift recipients may be turned down without one.
During the holiday season, identity theft and other attempts at fraud rise sharply. Use caution when signing checks and always cover your information. If possible, use a credit card. Most credit companies offer exclusive benefits for card-holders, which may include extended fee warranties, return protection, and sale protection.
Check Web sites for security. Enable your computer’s firewalls and update antivirus and antispyware software. A lock in the lower right hand corner of the checkout page and addresses beginning with https:// (the “s” is for secure) are both good signs.