Mak­ing the best of post-hol­i­day shop­ping

Antelope Valley Press - - Business - By ANNE D’INNOCENZIO AP Re­tail Writer

Shop­pers can take ad­van­tage of fat­ter dis­counts on cloth­ing, home decor and other items be­tween Christ­mas and well into Jan­u­ary.

In fact, a Na­tional Re­tail Fed­er­a­tion sur­vey of nearly 8,000 adults con­ducted Nov. 27 through Dec. 5 found that 68% of hol­i­day con­sumers will likely shop the week af­ter Christ­mas. Nearly 50% plan to take ad­van­tage of post-hol­i­day sales and promotions, and 27% plan to use gift cards. And more than half of shop­pers say they will re­turn or ex­change any un­wanted gifts or hol­i­day items within the first month af­ter re­ceiv­ing them.

But just as shop­pers should scru­ti­nize the bar­gains on Black Fri­day, they need to do the same for post-Christ­mas deals.

”Don’t as­sume that a sale is a good deal,” said Julie Ramhold, se­nior staff writer at DealNews.com, a deal com­par­i­son web­site. “Do price com­par­isons.”

In ad­di­tion to DealNews. com, Ramhold cited such sites as Camel­camel­camel.com, an Ama­zon price tracker, and Honey, a browser ex­ten­sion that searches for coupons and cash-back of­fers and tracks prices on web­sites in­clud­ing Ama­zon.com, Tar­get.com and Wal­mart.com. She says shop­pers need to fig­ure out the price his­tory of the item and whether it’s lower than Black Fri­day’s deal.

Hol­i­day shop­pers also need to be aware of re­tail­ers’ more strin­gent re­turn poli­cies. Some well-known re­tail­ers like Bed, Bath & Be­yond, Macy’s and Kohl’s are fol­low­ing a trend of im­ple­ment­ing ever-shorter re­turn pe­ri­ods. Stores that once had un­lim­ited re­turn poli­cies have cut them to one year, then to 180 days, and now in some cases to 90 days or less, ac­cord­ing to Edgar Dworsky, founder of the Boston-based con­sumer ad­vo­cacy web­site Con­sumer World.

The post-Christ­mas shop­ping pe­riod is a good time to stock up on items like wrap­ping pa­per, cards and home decor shop­pers will need next year. For ex­am­ple, hol­i­day decor is typ­i­cally slashed by 50%, but those dis­counts deepen to 80% af­ter Dec. 25, ac­cord­ing to Ramhold. She rec­om­mends head­ing to the sales racks right af­ter Christ­mas since there won’t be much selec­tion if bar­gain hunters wait longer.

Last year, about one-third of post-Christ­mas deals was for cloth­ing and ac­ces­sories, ac­cord­ing to DealNews.com. But stores like Vic­to­ria’s Se­cret and Michael Kors also use this pe­riod to run semi-an­nual sales. Dis­counts on sweaters and other win­ter cloth­ing are about 50%, sim­i­lar to Black Fri­day, so it’s best to wait un­til af­ter Jan. 1 when the deals deepen to 70%, ac­cord­ing to DealNews.com. Still, some re­tail­ers like Tar­get start their af­ter-Christ­mas deals with more ag­gres­sive cuts. Tar­get is tak­ing up to 70% off on cloth­ing and shoes for the fam­ily start­ing Thurs­day.

As for elec­tron­ics, it’s best to hold off un­til af­ter the an­nual Con­sumer Elec­tron­ics Show in early Jan­u­ary, where new tech prod­ucts will be dis­played. That will help re­tail­ers de­cide which older prod­ucts to dis­count. Look­ing for a new TV? Wait un­til right af­ter the Su­per Bowl in early Fe­bru­ary, ac­cord­ing to Mar­shal Co­hen, chief in­dus­try ad­viser of the NPD Group Inc., a mar­ket re­search firm. And shop­pers can al­ways count on ex­er­cise equip­ment to be on sale. DealNews.com saw more ex­er­cise equip­ment deals in Jan­u­ary than dur­ing any other month this past year.

As­so­ci­ated Press

In this Nov. 29 file photo, a woman car­ries a shop­ping bag while walk­ing in front of a ca­ble car in San Francisco.

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