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Holiday Shopping, What You Need To Know!

November 10, 2010

I’ve said it before that I’m not a big fan of shopping, but as a member of the financial blogging community I feel I need to give you some insight into this (what some might call) a nightmare Christmas shopping experience. My fondest memory of shopping (I know you are surprised to hear I have a fond memory of shopping) was one Christmas my girls were in high school.  I had bought these stackable present boxes that had all folded into each other. When they were all undone, they would stack upon each other like a pyramid. I thought I was so clever as I had never given presents in this manner. So I bought a set for each girl (there were 12 boxes in each stack) then I had to go and fill them. I would take the boxes into the stores and make sure the gifts would fit in the boxes otherwise there was no use as I couldn’t have my gift-pyramid  Purple Treearrangement topple over. I found it a fun way to shop simply because if it fit, then I’d buy it. When the girls arrived at christmas and they found these towers of presents next to the tree (as tall as the tree even) is was a fun and a cool site. They didn’t always like what I bought them (what teenage girls do?), but I just told them the story of “it fit!” so I bought it! So let’s take a peak at the retailer’s game plans so you can plan your shopping offense.

  • Know When To Pull The Trigger: you’ll find great deals on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, on low-end electronics. But if you want brand names you’ll need to wait closer to Christmas. Prices at moderate-price clothing retailers such as Aeropostale and The Gap, are more likely to fall as Christmas nears than at higher end department stores. Expect steep discounts on toys in the two or three weeks prior to Christmas.
  • Be Wary Of Retailers’ Tactics: Stores know a lot about how your mind works. For example the merchandise that gets  prime position at eye level or on displays at the end of the aisle is the stuff they most want to sell, tempting you whether you need it or not. Sales are designed to persuade shoppers to buy now or forever mourn a missed opportunity. Another tactic is to offer extended warranties, many of which aren’t worth it as you are buying insurance for something you’re not likely to get fixed.
  • Watch For Web Deals: E-tailers have their own playbook. Expect a surge of emails this year. Enticements include countdown clocks, discounts of 30% or more and free shipping.
  • Deploy Your Smart Phone: Use your phone to access coupons and load applications that let you compare prices on the spot or get more information on a product. Apps such as RedLaser (for the iPhone) and ShopSavvy allow you to scan an item’s bar code with your phone’s camera to retrieve info like reviews etc.
  • Get In Under The Wire: Eleventh hour shoppers rejoice. You could email a virtual gift card as late as Christmas Eve, plus under new federal rules, gift cards cannot expire for at least five years from the purchase date.

Noel StoreAnd to top this off there will be more temporary stores and thus employment for workers seeking retail jobs. Toys R Us is hiring 45,000 seasonal workers this holiday season up  10,000 from last year. The additional workers will staff 600 new temporary stores the chain will open this fall. Brookstone, the gift and gadget retailer, is adding 36% more holiday workers – 900 people altogether – this year than it did last year for the expected increase in business and to work in 150 temporary stores and kiosks.

So get out there and shop; make smart decisions and make sure it fits! If you get a great bargain let us at GAI (www.gunwel.com) know about it so we can pass the good word on. Give us all call at 212-979-6830 or stop by for a visit as we are always looking forward to a great Christmas story! See you soon.

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