Editorial/Op

Cash-Saving Facts for Christmas

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By J.R. Dalton
 
    The storefront may look desolate this holiday season, but the National Retail Federation is expecting a 2.8% increase in holiday sales this Christmas, which brings Christmas 2011 profits to an estimated $466 billion. However, the decline of foot-traffic in our local shops and malls is not because people have decided to be Scrooges; much of this is due to the 2011 consumer base using technology that has been unavailable to previous generations. With the technologically literate in mind, retailers are whopping out staggering deals in Facebook and Twitter updates, respective of those who say they will do 36% of their shopping online this holiday season. These tech-savvy Clauses are using smart-phones to look up store addresses and deals, and their tablet PCs to do their online browsing and comparison shopping before even hitting the mall. Along with utilizing the latest tech-trends in shopping, retailers plan to push heavier promotions than last year in mailbox coupons, discounted gift cards (5%-30% off), and daily steals-n-deals through websites like Groupon.com and eBates.com, and other thrifty discount sites such as RetailMeNot.com, FreeShipping.org, and SecretPrices.com, which distribute promo codes to be entered at checkout for discounted totals at places like Overstock.com, Amazon.com, and Ebay.com. 
    No matter how vibrant the promos and deals are this Christmas, Robert Pagliarini, president of Pacifica Wealth Advisors Inc. says, “If you are in debt, just say no to gift buying this holiday. There is absolutely NO reason for you to go further into debt buying things for others.” The new “Central Now” app, found on both the iPhone and Android market, has a directory of your local dine-n-chill/shop-n-save venues here in Central, making it easy for you to hunt down bargains close to home. Many folks think that saving money on Christmas shopping is stingy or that it will turn out disappointing gifts, but finding cost-effective ways to give your loved ones what they want is a rewarding endeavor. 
    If you’re looking for deals and gift-cards here in Central go to Ditzy Daizy’s, Uniquely Yours, Cato, or Merle Norman for your female gift recipients, and try Central Perk, Menchie’s, Cooper Café, and Sammy’s for the hungrier of Santa’s helpers. 
    Consumer surveys report that 55% of people are hoping to receive gift cards and certificates to their favorite department stores, restaurants, and even gas stations. More than two thirds of retailers now offer gift-cards, and a large number of those actually offer “discounted” gift-cards, which are worth sometimes 50% off of the card’s face value. If you were planning to spend that money anyway, why not knock off 50% right?
    The NRF posted several articles on tips for making the most out of a recovering economy as well as the results of this year’s consumer survey. The most repeated tip I found throughout their website is, “Have a plan and be prepared.” The NRF noted that, “Nearly 40 percent of consumers begin their holiday shopping before Halloween (38.9%),” and “another 40 percent will begin shopping in November, 17 percent will hit the stores the first two weeks in December and 4.1 percent will procrastinate until the final two weeks of December.”
    Having allocated money divided up and knowing how much you plan to pay before going out shopping is the best course of action to prevent over-spending this Christmas. With that said, please be careful when carrying sums of cash to and from car and store. While crime rates actually drop on the day of Christmas it is important to remember that vehicle break-ins and purse snatching is high during the shopping season and the rates jump up again with home burglaries after Christmas. So be careful and discreet when disposing of gift boxes and wrappings in front of your home.
    Robert Pagliarini’s post of “10 Easy Tips to Save Money This Christmas” can be found at moneywatch.bnet.com.

 

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