Last year, online shoppers outnumbered in-store customers during the holiday season. What does that mean for you? If you are doing holiday and Christmas shopping online this year, expect more deals on a wider variety of products, especially those you can’t find in stores. But, before you indulge in holiday shopping and after Cyber Monday sales, you should research the products you want, the retailer sales, and price comparisons.
Holiday Shopping Strategy
Many retailers have turned Black Friday into a week of sales and well into December, giving you a lot more options. What this means for you is that you have to be diligent in your planning. Some retailers will only offer certain deals on certain days, sometimes even as specific as certain timeframes within a specific day. You don’t want to log on to your favorite retailer’s site to realize the picture frame with quotes you wanted was only on sale one week and not the next.
The other thing to be conscious of is the retailer-wide discounts compared to the product-specific sales. Online retailers are more likely to offer retailer-wide discounts such as 25% off your entire order, where brick-and-mortar retailers are more like to offer 25% of a certain product. This might affect your shopping strategy if you are planning to buy a variety of gifts across multiple sites, as you would purchase different items at different in-store retailers. Although a single product discount might be more at one retailer, the overall discount on an order might be more significant if you are looking to buy multiple gifts.
Items to Buy During the Holiday Season
One of the hardest parts of Christmas and holiday shopping, whether you are going to the physical store or staying home on the computer, is identifying what advertised sale is actually a good deal. Some products and brands will have better deals than other brands, as well as certain niche items will be easier to get your hands on. Some of the items to focus your plan on:
- Wearables: Technology is always hot during the holidays, and the trend in wearables is certainly part of that. Wearables include heart rate monitors, fitness trackers, virtual reality glasses, and more.
- Game Consoles: With the recent release of the Sega Genesis and NES Classic, as well as the Playstation 4 and XBox One, gaming consoles are going to be a hot ticket item this year. Look for deals at leading game and
- electronic retailers.
- Custom Signs and Plaques: Any item that you want to be customized will be better suited buying online during holiday sales. Why? Well if you went to a brick and mortar store for custom name signs, you’d pick out your item, tell what you want customized, then have to go pick it back up when it’s done. When you order customized signs online, you order, submit your customization, and it will be shipped upon completion. No more backtracking or leaving the comfort of your own bed.
- TVs: Whether you are doing Christmas shopping online or in stores, TVs almost always steal the best deals. Target is featuring a Samsung 55-inch 4K Motion Rate 120 curved Smart Ultra HDTV for $697.99 and Wal-Mart has a Philips 55-inch Class Smart 4K TV for $298. The best part about buying these online? Not having to fight others in the store or figure out how to carry it out to the car.
Items to Avoid During the Holidays
Not all sales are created equally. Just because it’s the best time of the year for most sales, does not mean everything is worth it. Some items see their biggest price cuts during other seasons. Keep your eye out for these and think twice before you splurge on these:
- Furniture: Avoid home and patio furniture sales during the winter months. Not only are there very few of them, they rarely compare to the deals offered in the early summer and late fall.
- Winter Gear: Although items like clothing, footwear, and outerwear are popular gift items during the holidays, there aren’t usually any outstanding sales or deals on these items. Save your energy and buy these during other sales and focus on bigger items with larger specials.
- Travel: In theory, it might seem like the perfect time to book a vacation. Holiday deals on airline tickets? Sounds great, but in reality, the best deals for booking flights come after the new year.
- Gift Cards: Retailers typically don’t give discounts on gift cards, as they can be used anytime, whether the store is having a sale or not. Look for ways to score free gift cards like at Target where if you buy the Samsung TV from Target, you get a free Target gift card.
Keep Your Eye On the Details
When doing your holiday and Christmas shopping online, it is more important than normal to read the fine print. One of the biggest downsides to buying something online is not being able to try or test it before you buy, so it is extremely important to look at the return policy. Check to see if the retailer is offering free returns or free shipping. You don’t want to get caught paying extra to return something. It is also important to look for shipping discounts and offers when buying big ticket items. Buying a TV at a discounted price only makes sense if you aren’t paying a fortune to have it shipped to your house.
Because holiday shopping goes far beyond Black Friday and Cyber Monday for many retailers, be sure to double check the exact time the product you want goes on sale. When shopping online, especially during a high-traffic time like the holidays, sales will be staggered to start and end throughout the season.
Whether you are looking for custom family plaques for a Christmas gift or buying a new TV for your man-cave, there are many benefits to doing your holiday shopping online. Spend your time and money wisely and make a plan before you start!