By Laurence MacNaughton
If your holiday shopping strategy is to wait until the last minute, you might be in trouble this year. Online shopping has transformed the retail store landscape, and the 2012 holiday promises to be a tough season for bargain hunters.
Everyone knows that prices go down as we get closer to the holidays, right? Not necessarily. As the holiday season gets closer and demand goes up, so will some prices.
Although it’s true that you can find some incredible deals on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, other prices actually increase. In fact, it’s not uncommon to see price hikes as much as 50% (or sometimes more) on popular items like jewelry, cameras, and high-end clothing.
If you’re planning to buy a high-end gift, find the best price right now and make the purchase. If you happen to find a significantly lower price later, you can always return your gift and buy at the lower price. It’s better than paying through the nose – or worse, finding out that your store is out of stock.
According to a recent survey, nearly half of holiday shoppers have already started shopping. Retail sales across the country are picking up now. So if you’re looking for the best selection, you can’t afford to wait.
Accordingly, Toys R Us is launching a brand new feature this year: the Hot Toy Reservation Program. If you put down a 20% deposit by Halloween, you’re guaranteed to have your toy by the holidays. There are only two drawbacks: the program is only available in stores (not online), and you’ll have to pay full price.
In 2012, for the first time, more than half of holiday shoppers will make their purchases online. That means more Americans are shopping at home than in the stores.
Brick-and-mortar retailers are feeling the pinch. That’s why Toys R Us and Walmart will match the prices of other local stores. Meanwhile, Target and Best Buy have both announced that they’ll match the prices of online competitors like Amazon.com.
A word of caution, though: there are some exceptions, and they won’t match prices on Black Friday. Also, you’ll have to make sure that the item you’re comparing is exactly the same – same color, same style, same size, and so on.
Many retailers are also offering free in-store pickup for online purchases, and some are even offering free shipping deals.
If there’s a certain toy or gift you’re intent on buying this year, it makes more sense to get it now than to wait for a sale later. Otherwise, you run the risk of higher prices or out-of-stock stores.
But don’t worry. We can help you save. ShopAtHome.com has coupons and Cash Back rewards to help you get the best deals at thousands of online stores.
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