Much as retailers would like us to believe that the holiday shopping season begins December 26th (you know, the previous year), many of us still cling to the notion that the green flag flutters down the day after Thanksgiving in these United States. These same retailers additionally like to stoke the idea that shopping is a joyful, exhilarating experience.
I--and perhaps you--know different. Crowds. Endless treacly holiday music. Faux peppermint and pine scent. Seasonal staff that points you in the direction of blinking Santas instead of comfortable loungewear. Parking spaces a state away from where you want to be.
Bah. And I say that with more than a dash of humbug.
That doesn't mean, however, that you must retreat to a cave and emerge only after Rudolph and the boys have flown off to Fiji for a well earned respite. Instead, you might consider the following gift-giving options.
Be wary on Black Friday. At the risk of destroying the American economy with a single blow, I'll suggest that Black Friday has turned from a day to hunt for bargains at your leisure into an Event. It's now about getting up early and being part of the mob.
Sure, some places do offer bargains, but not always. The folks running these emporiums understand that Black Friday is A Thing and customers will show up regardless of whether they hack prices or not. It's well worth your while to spend some time online researching prices on items you really want, making a note of each. Then, if you choose to venture out, compare the "sale" price with the online price. You may find that store prices are actually higher than what you can find online. (And higher than what that store asked for just two days before.)
If you're already in the thick of it, take a few moments to download the RedLaser app to your iPhone. With it you can quickly scan bar codes and then check competing prices elsewhere. It may mean throwing that hard-won alpaca jumper to the pack, but it could save you money in the meantime.
(I will make an exception for the "Mom and Pop" stores that may remain in your town or village. Frequenting such places and paying a few bucks more is often worth it simply to keep them in business and, thus, maintain some kind of community flavor.)
Shop smarter at Amazon. A lot of us do much of our holiday shopping on Amazon. But we don't all do so as intelligently as we might. Wouldn't it be great if you could create a list of items that you want to buy and then be alerted when their prices drops?
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.