December 26, 2008

5 Tips for Grabbing Last Minute Holiday Shopping Deals

The stockings may be hung and the tree decorated, but not everyone is ready to sit back and enjoy the eggnog. Some of us still need to hit the malls and buy presents. But shopping procrastinators are in luck this year--retailers are offering mega-discounts and sales to those who still have money to spend.

To make sure you're getting the best deal possible, here are five tips to keep in mind, as well as a list of stores with some of the most tempting offers:

Retailers are desperate. With the retail sales forecast weak--TNS Retail Forward estimates sluggish growth of around 2 percent--stores are doing whatever they can to get consumers to open their wallets, and that usually means offering big discounts. Hefty markdowns for Black Friday spurred a short-term jump in spending, and many of those discounts have lingered throughout the entire month of December. That means you have the upper-hand. With retailers willing to do almost anything to win your business, you have room to do a bit of negotiating. Before setting foot in a store, compare prices through websites such as so you know where to go to get the best deal. If you're visiting a boutique or craft market, then you likely have some leeway to ask for a lower price. A simple request, such as, "Can you give me a discount on that?" can lead to $5 off or more. As for the big box stores, Brad Wilson, editor of, says more retailers are willing to match their competitors' prices this season. That means consumers who see better deals elsewhere can point out the discrepancy to a store manager and ask for a price match.

Don't forget about last minute online deals. For those who prefer to shop from the comfort of their own homes, a few online retailers are still offering deals for delivery by Christmas. According to, 1-800-FLOWERS.COM and Teleflora can deliver by Christmas Eve if you order by 2 p.m. local time on Christmas Eve--so basically, you can order your bouquet and have it delivered within hours.
Last minute travel gifts are another option; websites such as
Travelocity, and Expedia feature last minute deals with bigger than usual discounts, so procrastinators can benefit.

But be careful as you click. Fraudsters are prowling websites for credit card numbers and other personal information, so be sure to enter information only on trustworthy websites. Never click on a link embedded in an E-mail or send credit card information over E-mail. When your January credit card statement arrives, check it carefully for any discrepancies. Credit card companies offer protections against fraud as long as it's reported in a timely manner.

For the best deals, check out these retailers:
-- J. Crew is offering 20 percent off through December 24, but it applies to in-store purchases only. That means the stores will be crowded, but you can snag some great deals on J. Crew's colorful winter collection.
-- If you like Lacoste's pastel colors, then you can take advantage of the mark downs on select Polo shirts for men and women. While the classic colors like yellow and blue carry their original $79.50 price tag, Wisteria purple, Storm Cloud blue, and others are on sale for $58.99.
-- The Gap is offering up to 40 percent off, while its sister stores Old Navy and Banana Republic are holding their own sales of up to a whopping 60 percent off.
-- At Target, shoppers can get visit stores to get up to 30 percent discounts--just make sure you check Target's
weekly ad in advance.
-- Wal-Mart has put together its list of last-minute gift suggestions with some incredible discounts, including a
Garmin GPS device with an mp3 player for $246, marked down from $498.

If you end up running out of time before Christmas, then you can still take advantage of the post-holiday sales through January. And next year, try to plan your shopping list in advance to prevent a crunch as Christmas approaches.

According to Greg Hintz, general manager of Yahoo Shopping, consumers tend to spend more when they wait until the last minute. Plus, he adds, making a shopping list ahead of time reduces the chances of impulse purchases--so that's another goal to add to the 2009 New Year's resolutions list.

U.S.News & World Report, accessed online 12/25/08, Kimberly Palmer.

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