Tips and Trends for Holiday Shopping

Black Friday preparations include online price and comparison shopping before getting to a store at 3 am to get "crushed" by the mob.

The World According to Apps

Consumers will be looking to find what to buy, when to buy, and where to buy this Holiday Season before even leaving the house, according to industry experts. The recession and lingering concerns have changed holiday shopping from impulse buying to calculated shopping. The economy has eliminated the rushed decisions of impulse buying and focuses on shopping influences defined by price, special sale price and most convenient location.

Especially the last category should be good news to local retailers and “upscale previously used” boutiques. Two out of three consumers however will comparison shop this coming shopping weekend of the year, using online search, consumer reviews and catalogs for their homework.

The last year of paper coupons?

In another trend consumers are starting to replace paper coupons for digital savings as it becomes clear that shoppers just don’t leave home without their mobile phones. Merchants and restaurants are now starting to offer “call to action discounts” in Apps that are aiming to make life even more interactive. There is an App called I am Hungry that offers deals at specific times of the day, -late lunch, early dinner – and let’s you rate them.
Especially University towns and cities see a rapid growth as Facebook jumps into the deal with special discounts for letting your friends know where you are having lunch for example.

Even though Facebook is only a freshman in the young business of mobile coupons, many expect it to quickly become the most popular kid on campus. According to a recent study from Nielsen, Facebook is the most popular mobile app on all smartphones, with 59 percent of users saying they open it daily, according to Pew Internet. And let’s face it (no pun intended) with more than 500 million users worldwide and more than 100 million US alone, many businesses already have discovered the need for a presence on Facebook. Actually earlier this week it became official that Facebook has now more visitors a day than GOOGLE!

On Facebook’s mobile app, you’ll see offers only when you enter the “Places’’ menu and try to check in somewhere. (Checking in is a way to let your online network know where you are, an unappealing idea for some.) If there are nearby businesses offering a deal, you’ll see a little yellow coupon next to their name. Though Facebook has said it is testing this feature with businesses like H&M, Starbucks, McDonald’s, and Macy’s, deals are still pretty hard to find. (Starbucks and McDonald’s offer to give $1 to charity every time you check in at one of their locations, but don’t offer discounts on purchases.) But then again Facebook released the feature only this month.

At the rate these apps are developing, discount online organizations like Groupon and LivingSocial will soon have to re-address their business plans as BOGO and 20-50% discounts seem to take center position in these offers.

Black Friday

Even though consumers are not expected to return to the credit card spending frenzy of the past, there are some good reasons to use the credit card for certain purchases and that is a far stretched recommendations from someone like me, who cut up all 8 credit cards 24 years ago and never returned to the practice of living on credit.
Provided you carefully read the fine print you may be able to take advantage of at least 5 extra conveniences your cards may be affording you. Five often overlooked benefits of credit cards include extended warranties on purchases, price protection for discounted items, purchase protection on broken or stolen goods, return protection and car rental insurance. However, these protections sometimes come with caveats: Price protection, for example, might not apply to sale goods for example. For a better understanding of the potential benefits click here.

Oh and if you can’t find a copy of your cardholder agreement or the language is too dense, call your card’s customer service number to ask about the benefits that interest you.

Have a great Thanksgiving Holiday.

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