Holiday Shopping 101: Tips From The Inside

It’s hard to believe just how quickly this year has gone by, especially if (like me) you find yourself perpetually playing catch up in the gift-giving realm. Regardless of whether you’re an early bird or a last-minute shopper, navigating the many holiday sales can be stressful: 

‘Am I getting the best deal?’

‘Should I wait to buy or will I miss out?’

‘Is it worth the money?’

‘Should I opt to order online or go in person?’

As someone who worked for a national retailer in a past life, there are a handful of  lessons that have stuck with me and helped to guide my buying habits since:

1// Know Your Comps

Amazon, Target, Costco, and Walmart all carry similar merchandise. Depending on what you are buying, Barnes & Noble, Wayfair, Overstock, Staples, Michaels, and Home Goods can be thrown into that mix too. 

If you’re thinking: great, I didn’t need a list of stores, hear me out. Instead of defaulting to your preferred site, if you see an item you’d like head to the “Item Description” section, copy the “SKU number”, and paste it into other sites (or even Google Search) to see if there is a better offer elsewhere. While each retailer tracks the prices of their competitors’ items and will adjust their own items accordingly, different retailers have different margin thresholds.

2// Stop Waiting for Luxury Brands to Go on Sale

Google, Apple, Nike, and certain other top brands are ubiquitous enough that they have the power to set “MAP Pricing” for retailers. In lay terms, this means that even if you search, for example, Amazon for Apple products, Apple is still in control of the price you see. Whereas retailers often discount smaller vendors’ items to drive up sales, they simply don’t have that option with the big guys.

3// Use Honey, Save Money

If you haven’t downloaded the Honey Plugin yet, you are missing out. Honey scans the internet for coupon and discount codes, tests them, and automatically applies the best code at checkout– for 30,000+ sites! Trust me, it’s worth it.

4// Know Your Ground Cutoff Date

Ground cutoff is another retail term, basically meaning the latest possible date that a standard purchase (not airmail, express, etc.) can be ordered and expected to reach the customer before Christmas. Both FedEx and UPS have the same ground cutoff this year — December 15th. If you miss the ground cutoff date, go in person or expedite your order. (Even expedited services have ship-by dates– see links above.) Last-mile delivery this time of year is highly unpredictable, and the last thing you want is to order the perfect gift only to have it fail to arrive in time.

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