The days of waiting outside for a store to open alongside a dangerous mob of people swarming around you are coming to a close. Thanks to online retail and all the comparison shopping tools available, it’s never been easier or more convenient to score seriously great deals. And due to the combination of competition and the recession, many online venues offer low-cost to free shipping. Here are a couple of guidelines for getting the most out of all the after-Xmas sales going on right now.
- Play it cool: If you were able to restrain yourself over this weekend, then you did yourself a favor. Waiting a couple of days until the masses have exhausted the fever pitch of sale-hopping is good, because now you can enjoy some leisurely after-work shopping without getting elbowed in the gut. A recession year means there will be plenty of overstock to last all the way until 2010.
- Never pay full price: While retailers want to take advantage of desperate shoppers in the days leading up to Christmas, you’ll see the same exact items at deep discounts after the big day has passed. If you can possibly wait, you’ll reap major financial rewards.
- Look online first: The general rule of thumb is you can get most items you have your heart set on online. Tip: If you hate ordering clothes or shoes online because you think they won’t fit, try on the same item in a store, note your size, and order accordingly.
- Exchange and trade up: If you received presents you’d rather not keep, take them back to stores and exchange them. In the first few days after Xmas, many stores don’t require a receipt. And because these items were purchased before Christmas, they were probably bought for full price, meaning you can take advantage of post-holiday discounts and end up with two new sweaters instead of, say, the one you brought in to exchange. Tip: During the days after Christmas, eBay is packed full of items that gift recipients want to get rid of in exchange for cash, and you can score merch at a fraction of the cost.
- Comparison shop: Start by downloading a discount shopping app like Invisible Hand, a subtle yet effective alert that drops down on your browser and lets you know if someone is selling the same item for less. And don’t forget to take advantage of comparison shopping sites like MySimon.com and great tools such as Like.com, where you can search a certain style of item and it will bring up hundreds of similar products and their prices.
- Strike a deal: Retailers are desperate to move leftover inventory, so it’s truly a buyer’s market. Scour the many ads retailers will post after Christmas, and bring them with you to shop. Many stores will be happy to meet or beat competitors’ sale prices. All you have to do is ask.
- Stock up for next year: Purchasing seasonal items in the days after Christmas will get you huge savings because they’ll be on clearance. Get cards, wrapping paper and decorations, and of course, if you want to be really thrifty you could get a head start and buy people’s presents for next year.
- Be frugal, even at sales: Don’t fall into the trap of buying a bunch of crap just because items are deeply discounted. You’re not getting a good deal if you’re spending money on say, a deluxe USB drink warmer that you don’t really need or want. And remember, the trade-off for most clearance items means there is a no return or exchange policy.