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The Broomfielder

’Tis the Season for Holiday Shopping

Nov 01, 2018 02:56PM

’Tis the Season for Holiday Shopping

By Kristen Beckman

The transition from fall to winter heralds the beginning of another season: holiday shopping season. Stores have had holiday items for sale in their holiday shops for weeks already, and the hottest gift items will soon be stocked on store shelves and in online warehouses awaiting one of the busiest shopping seasons of the year.

On average, Americans spend about $1,000 on holiday gifts with much of that spending concentrated between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Last year, more than 174 million Americans shopped in stores and online during the five-day weekend between Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday, according to the National Retail Federation. The most popular shopping day was Black Friday. Holiday spending in 2018 is expected to increase between 4.3 and 4.8 percent from last year to about $720 billion thanks to a healthy economy, low unemployment, and strong consumer confidence, the organization said.

Shopping Options

For many, nothing beats the ability to see, touch, and immediately buy the items they’ve selected for their family and friends. Others prefer the convenience of shopping for items online from the comfort of their home. Despite the growth and popularity of online shopping, in-store buying continues to dominate holiday shopping, according to many consumer spending studies. However, most consumers are expected to shop both online and at stores this holiday season.

Black Friday is typically the busiest and most profitable day of the year for brick-and-mortar retailers. For many people, studying holiday ad inserts and strategizing about how to hit each retail store they want to visit to get the best deals possible, is an annual tradition. 

Black Friday shoppers can expect to get some great deals on electronics, appliances, clothing, and toys as retailers deeply discount such items to attract customers. Consumer Reports recommends starting early on Black Friday to get the best deals, including scanning circulars the week before, using price and coupon tools to compare prices among retailers, and monitoring retailer social media to stay up to date on deals and promotions. Consumer Reports also recommends creating a Black Friday budget and sticking to it to avoid getting caught up in buying excitement once inside stores. 

The Saturday following Black Friday is billed as Small Business Saturday, when consumers are encouraged to shop local businesses and mom-and-pop shops.

Cyber Monday has taken on notoriety of its own as many retailers offer online-only deals on the final day of the post-Thanksgiving shopping weekend. Online shopping continues to increase as a percentage of holiday shopping, with Amazon grabbing the largest share of online dollars spent. To get the best deals on Cyber Monday, experts recommend planning your online shopping in advance by bookmarking your favorite retailers’ websites, following them on social media, and reviewing their shipping and return policies and fees. Avoid sites with poor security practices to protect yourself from identity theft and stay within a predetermined budget. After you make purchases online, monitor bank accounts and credit cards for any suspicious activity.

Buying Strategies

While there are many amazing deals to be had on Black Friday, most retailers continue to offer deals throughout the weeks leading up to Christmas, and smart consumers can take advantage of this to buy items that are perennially discounted deeply. 

According to Consumer Reports, November is the best month to buy a television because the average price for a set hits bottom on Cyber Monday. Refrigerators are another item that can be purchased at a deep discount in November, and other major appliances, including washing machines, dishwashers, cooktops, and freezers, may also come with a lower price tag this month. Discounts are also typically available on smaller appliances that may also double as gifts, including blenders and coffee makers, which are frequently discounted during the holiday shopping season.

Fitness trackers, which are a popular gift choice, are frequently discounted during the holiday shopping season, both in November and December, according to Consumer Reports.

In December, many electronics that make great holiday gifts will be offered at a discount, according to Consumer Reports. Headphones top the list of deeply discounted items in December and are a perennial gift-giving favorite. Wireless speakers are another great gift option that are frequently discounted in the weeks leading up to the holidays. Other popular and frequently discounted items in December are cordless drills, tablets, and smart watches.