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7 Ways to Make the Most of Christmas Shopping This Year

The holiday season is one of the most joyful and expensive times of the year. This is the time of the year when budgets are carefully constructed and destroyed as families find deal after deal simply too good to pass up. Retailers count on the holiday shopping season to swell coffers and bring revenues up at the end of the fiscal year, and to entice customers they are always ready to make deals and offer specials.

Christmas shopping is fun, and in 2015 you’ll have more options than every about how and where to spend your money. You simply need to make the most of the sales you’ll find in every shop, on every corner.

Be Sure a Sale Is Truly a Real Sale

There are stores that have sales and then they are stores that don’t throughout most of the year. If a particular retailer is known for having a once-in-a-lifetime sale every other weekend, it’s a good bet the holiday shopping deals aren’t much better than you’d normally find any other time of the year.

Instead, target stores that don’t normally have sales throughout the year. When there is truly only one sale per year in a store like Marks & Spencers or the Apple store, it’s likely going to have real savings. On the most popular shopping days, these carefully selected stores should be your first stop. The stores with constant sales year-round can wait.

Do Your Research First

Before you walk out of the door, do your research. Most of the retailers advertise their specials both online and in print ads. Gather a collection of ads with your breakfast and flip through looking for savings in the days before the actual sales start. Looking at the ads as you prepare will help you find the lowest prices and also help you to arrange your shopping day in one of the most crowded times of the year.

Plan to Shop Early

Many stores offer discounts early in the day on the most popular shopping days or on the weekends. Getting up early and getting out to the stores before breakfast on these days will give you a chance at the best deals. On the other hand, if you’re comfortable waiting, many of the shops are almost empty toward the end of each day since everyone else was out at first light and you may be able to take advantage of sales without huge crowds.

Plan Your Shopping List and Budget

While it’s easy to look at your bank account and plan a budget for shopping, it’s very hard to stick to it if you don’t also plan a list of things to actually shop for. Every item on sale becomes a chance to break that budget, especially if you don’t think ahead of time about what items you’re looking for and find the best prices through research.

Sign Up for Emails

Most of your favorite retail store provide email alerts. These alerts also contain coupons from time to time, so sign up for all of your frequent shops and then gather up those coupons and advance warning of specials to really maximize your savings.

Look for Reward Programs

If you know you’re about spend big bucks on holiday shopping, why not let that spending help you out as well. Open a new credit card with rewards on spending and then use it for shopping. Pay the card off with the holiday money saved in your bank account and you don’t pay interest but still can take advantage of all of those lovely points or perks.

Watch for Fake Bargains

Many retailers, especially those that offer the lowest of the low prices on items like televisions and home theatre equipment don’t actually mark down their standard items. Instead they bring in new stock for the sale. This new stock is less expensive than the items sold year-round and when the store offers the “bargain” prices on these items, shoppers are buying an inferior product at the super low price.

Another way retailers tweak “bargains” is by inflating the retail price. The camera you bought on sale might be advertised as being £272 cheaper than the retail price on a reseller website, but on the actual manufacturer website, the retail price is within £9 of that advertised bargain sale price.

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