People crowd the aisles inside Macy’s department store November 25, 2011 in New York after the … [+]
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I don’t know about you, dear reader, but it seems like Christmas showed up three days after Halloween this year, and the perpetual game of catch up I’m playing is genuinely not working at the moment.
The holiday cards? Haven’t ordered them yet. Travel plans? File loading, please wait. I’m proud that the house is decorated, but I can hardly take much credit for that one as I had help.
And then, there’s the shopping aspect. Food? Booze? Gifts? Bahaha-haha! Every year, it feels like everything is more expensive, time flies a bit faster, and life stretches to a more frenzied fever pitch. And let’s be honest: for anyone paying a little bit of attention, it probably feels a bit like all the good sales are gone before we latecomers get around to making a list.
I’ve always heard that it’s best to avoid grocery shopping on an empty stomach, but what about with a full list, an empty tree, and a host of buying alongside a short window of time? According to a recent report by RetailMeNot, a service that helps consumers find discounts and low prices, there are valid reasons for the sense of overwhelm this year.
For starters, there were only 26 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, compared to 32 days last year. That missing six days this year is a biggie, since 28% of shoppers are last-minute shoppers, according to RetailMeNot.
The good news is that last minute shoppers aren’t alone. The National Retail Federation (NRF) reported findings from a survey that found 68 percent of holiday consumers reporting they will likely shop the week after Christmas, which spans from December 26 through January 1. Nearly half (49 percent) planned to take advantage of post-holiday sales and promotions taking place after Christmas. Meanwhile, according to RetailMeNot, specific items go on sale in December, making it sensible to wait in order to get the maximum deal.
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Sara Skirboll, a shopping and trends expert for RetailMeNot, said that retailers strive to create a sense of urgency for shoppers during this season, causing them to rush out to pick up items, “while supplies last.” Skirboll says that retailers also lay it on thick for shoppers. “Whether it’s the pleasant holiday smells or music playing throughout the store, it increases the likelihood you will make an impulse buy,” says Skirboll.
Last-minute shoppers also have a few advantages over their Black Friday strategists, such as smaller crowds and a longer time to plan and execute their holiday lists. Skirboll stresses that retailers “still offer last-minute deals as they try to make the most sales before the end of the year.”
The way to sanity, according to Skirboll, is to note that “Many Cyber Week specials will continue through the rest of the month, and more items will go on sale to make sure everyone is stocked up and ready for the holidays.”
Let’s take a quick peek at some last-minute items ranked according to “worth it” or “hard pass” in December:
Worth It: Booze-perhaps this one is a bit in the low hanging fruit category, or it doesn’t come as a shocker to the savviest booze shopper. But for the rest of us, it turns out that as New Year’s Eve looms, liquor retailers often reduce their prices. This includes online delivery services and the corner liquor store, as they cut rates in the hopes that shoppers will throw down their cash for cheaper wine and spirits. Cheers!
Hard Pass: Bedding-If you ever feel the desire to get cozy, it’s best to hold off just a tad longer. It turns out that plenty of retailers offer these goods at a discount a few weeks later during the “white sale” frenzy post-New Year. “All matters of linens, sheets, bedding, and towels will be heavily discounted,” according to RetailMeNot.
Worth It: Technology-we’ve all seen it: the Black Friday madness where shoppers descend on a Best Buy like piranhas to get the best. deal. ever. on a flat-screen TV. While it is true that discounts during that time are notable and could prove to be worth the hassle of crowds and jostling (unless you get concussed) some electronics and video games remain on sale through the holiday season. “Other electronics like laptops, smartphones, digital cameras, and tablets will also see steep discounts this time of year,” according to RetailMeNot.
Hard Pass: Anything fitness related: by now, you’ve seen something related to the Peloton bike commercials airing on repeat this season. While tempting, equipment, classes, and gym memberships are also best reserved for after the new year. The reason: resolutions make for a great excuse to discount items to lure more purchasers, and savvy shoppers should wait to cash in on these discounts.
Worth it (honorable mention): Winter gear-according to RetailMeNot, “patience is a virtue” when it comes to getting the best bargain on hot-ticket items for cold days like coats, hats, gloves, and scarves. As it turns out, these items are worth the wait. “The closer to Christmas they can wait, the lower the prices will be on winter inventory,” according to RetailMeNot. Shoppers in warmer climates should hold out even longer for a steeper break and browse the items once spring gear surfaces after the holiday season ends.
In the meantime, regardless of what you are buying last minute, if you are shopping over the next few days, keep in mind that a little research still goes a long way. Skirboll suggests comparing prices, signing up for email alerts, and following favorite brands and retailers on social media. “A little bit of research goes a long way, so be sure to be informed before crossing everyone off your list,” says Skirboll.