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Post-holiday sales can mean big savings

Consumer Reports News: December 26, 2011 10:08 AM

If you’re among the 43 percent of consumers who fail to finish your holiday shopping on time, you’re procrastination might just pay off. Retailers are already polishing their after-holiday offers to keep the cash registers churning.

For hard-core shoppers, today is the real Black Friday, and a day off from work for many shoppers. Expect large chains to open early and close well past their usual hours as customers exchange unwanted presents for more desirable ones, redeem gift cards they’ve collected, and spend any holiday cash that turned up in their stockings.

In general, you’ll find deep discounts on merchandise with a seasonal/holiday theme or packaging - candy, greeting cards, ornaments, sweaters, scarves, gloves, pajamas, tableware, and the like. Wrapping paper is almost always sold for at least 50 percent off, and if it’s in a solid color, can be used any time of year.

Dealnews is reporting expected post-holiday discounts of as much as 88 percent from major merchants such as Williams Sonoma (on holiday items). The web site says Amazon.com will be having a year-end sale with discounts up to 75 percent on apparel, electronics, and groceries.

Other promotions mentioned include anticipated savings of at least 50 percent at Gymboree, Pfaltzgraff.com, and Under Armour Outlet; savings of 70 percent or more at Gardener’s Supply Co., Aeropostale, Oshkosh B’Gosh, Cabela’s, Old Navy, and Pottery Barn. Newegg is expected to float discounts of as much as 25 percent off select computers and other electronics. Barnes & Noble will be having a winter clearance with thousands of titles at 50 to 90 percent off list, plus deep discounts on music, DVDs, and toys.

Dealspl.us is reporting that Walmart’s post-holiday bargains will feature half-off on clothing and toys. Another site, Bfreedom.com, says Target’s post-holiday online sale is expected to feature e-readers and tablets, among others, with the lowest prices until summer. For more aggregated sales information, coupons, and promo codes check out AfterChristmas Sales.

If you’re planning to be out and about this week, here are some tips to remember:

  • Expect a lot of leftovers. Since shopping activity peaks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the remaining inventory represents what’s left over after all that frantic activity. And what’s left over might be an assortment of less popular sizes, colors, styles, and models, not necessarily the most desirable merchandise. Sure, you’ll get a lot of bang for your buck as merchants try to unload the winter stock to make way for the spring collections, but if it’s something you don’t really want or need, it could come down to money squandered.
  • Stay connected. With so many people shopping online, expect merchants to continue to keep customers apprised of the latest and greatest offers via social network sites like Twitter and Facebook, via e-mail and mobile alerts. So if you have a favorite store, be sure to sign up for alerts.
  • Keep an eye open for added savings. In past years, many merchants dangled deeper discounts to customers - both online and in-store -- who shoppedg during certain hours of the day, usually during quieter times. We expect they’ll do the same this year.
  • Compare online and in-store prices. They may not be the same. This year we’ve seen a number of chains practice two-tier pricing in which they charge walk-in customers one amount and online ones another for some items. Online prices tend to be cheaper. Stores will generally give walk-in customer the lower price if they request it. Be sure to check the online price against the store price so you don’t waste a trip.
  • Look for downloadable coupons. I scanned dozens of Web site ads and found a wealth of valuable coupons for bonus savings at many chains. Be sure to look before you buy.
  • Consider thrift stores. They can be an excellent source for affordable clothing and home furnishings. And they’re usually stocked with plenty of inventory in late December, as people scramble to donate items to qualify for one last 2011 tax deduction.

Tod Marks

   

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