Shop Smart and Safe this Holiday Season

Holiday Shopping

Although retailers have been putting up decorations and piping in holiday music for the last couple of months, Thanksgiving weekend is still generally recognized as the holiday shopping kickoff.  Like clockwork, shoppers young and old flock to department stores and online retailers trying to score a deal on anything and everything. While some love the thrill of Black Friday shopping, others opt for the online deals of Cyber Monday. Here are some tips from the our Consumer Affairs Division to help you make the most of the holiday shopping whirlwind.

Black Friday
  • Do Your Homework: Before you head out, check ads on products and prices to help separate the genuine door busters from the many ho-hum deals being promoted.
  • Be an Early Bird: Scope out key retailers on Wednesday before Thanksgiving to learn each store’s floor plan. Plot your route from store to store based on store opening times, and since quantities are often limited, arrive before the doors open. Send family members to different stores if opening times conflict.
  • Check the Return Policy Before Buying: While many stores extend their return deadlines into January, others are clamping down by imposing restocking fees on certain categories of items or by using a blacklisting database or returns tracking system to deny refunds to returns abusers.
  • Save More with Price Guarantees: Keep checking the prices of the items you bought. Since many stores offer a price protection guarantee, you may be entitled to get back some additional money if the seller or a competitor offers a lower price before Christmas.
  • Save with “Triple Plays”: To save the most, combine the primary ways to save: buy items at a good sale price, use percent-off/dollars-off coupons offered by some stores to lower that price even more, and look for items that also have a cash back rebate
More Black Friday Tips


Cyber Monday
  • Keep a File Folder: Print and save all confirmations of your purchases to help with returning or exchanging items to verifying credit card or bank statements.
  • Look for Coupon Codes: Look for websites dedicated to finding and posting coupon codes. You may just find a deal—free shipping, free merchandise, a percentage off your order—to sweeten the pot.
  • Shop at Sites that Offer Free Shipping: Many, but not all, stores offer free shipping on Cyber Monday, so spend some time looking for those deals.
  • Ship Gifts Directly to The Recipient: Most online retailers can ship items to a different location than your billing address. During the holiday season, when many people are traveling, take advantage of this feature by sending gifts ahead of your arrival. Some companies can even ship pieces from a single order to multiple locations so you don’t have to lug holiday gifts across the country.
  • Safeguard Your Online Information: Use reputable websites and stores. Only visit secure sites on your wireless connection, it should say “https:” (the s means secure) in your browser bar.
  • Gift Cards: Only buy from reputable retailers, not through online auction sites. Gift cards sold through online auction sites may be counterfeit or have been obtained illegally.
More Cyber Monday Tips


More Shopping Tips
  • Start Early: Shop after 6 p.m. the evening before a sale is advertised to begin. Many retailers program the registers the night before, so the sale may already come up in the register even if they have not changed out signs on the selling floor.  Ask the associate in advance for any possible upcoming sales, especially on big ticket items.
  • Shop Safely: Watch your personal belongings at all times including handbags and purchases. The stores are not responsible for any lost items so be careful, especially at the register when you can get easily distracted by the transaction
  • Free Gift Wrapping: Save yourself the headache and let the charity group at the mall wrap your gifts for you.  This will save you a lot of time and free you up to do other things on your holiday to-do lists.
  • Be Comfortable: When walking through the mall or down Main Street, wear comfortable shoes! You’ll be walking on a lot of marble, concrete and tile.
  • Parking Lot Safety: Park in busy, well-lit areas and don’t leave valuables in plain sight through your car windows.
More Shopping Tips


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