It’s that time of year… again. The Christmas holiday will be upon the world soon. And with so much to wrap-up at the end of the year, Christmas shopping can be even more of a hassle. With scores of shoppers crowding the malls and tens of thousands logging onto the Internet, there are many things to look out for when Christmas shopping.
The New Normal
In the past, Christmas shopping was done by reading circulars and flyers; then braving the lines at the local department store. It evolved into ordering from catalogs, namely for the sake of convenience. In 1991, the Internet became accessible to the average consumer. But it wasn’t until years later that online shopping became a reality.
Today, retailers embrace both in-store marketing and online marketing, attempting to drive consumers to their brick-and-mortar location as well as online presence.
But with every new solution comes new problems. Diverting customers away from the physical location only causes a serious server workload. Virtual shopping carts and check-out problems arise with an influx of new traffic. All the while, customers are trampling each others’ toes in the stores.
Tips for Online Shopping
- Order early. Just because a website’s in-stock availability appears while picking out your gift doesn’t mean it is actually in the warehouse. Account for possible delays in shipping as well as the item being out-of-stock.
- Look out for scams. Fraudsters don’t take the holidays off to get in the spirit of the season. Instead, they are hard at work sending out phishing emails. Phishing is the practice of sending out authentic-looking emails ostensibly from legitimate sources to capture personal information.
- Shop only on reputable websites. After finding the perfect gift at the perfect price, be sure you are dealing with the real McCoy. Shoppers will find the most security in protecting their personal information by using e-commerce sites with notable credentials. In the instance a little or unknown site has the exact gift being sought, check the URL for the characters "https". The "s" denotes a secure checkout site.
- Read online descriptions carefully. It’s easy to overlook details when shopping online. Brilliant images and the ease of browsing can lull a shopper into complacency. Read the product descriptions, as well as the terms, carefully. This will help a shopper avoid paying extra fees such as handling. It also will lessen the chance of buying a used or damaged item.
Tips for Offline Shopping
- Start early. Contrary to all the advice consumers receive about when to get the best deals, retailers are always offering discounts. It’s only the advertising that is more ubiquitous during the holidays–not necessarily the deals.
- Lock your gifts in the trunk. Every year, hundreds of thefts occur right in mall parking lots. Shoppers leaving newly bought items in plain view for all to see is too much temptation for some. Others actually welcome stuffed car seats as an opportunity.
- Examine items carefully to ensure they are genuine. Knock-offs become more prevalent during the holiday season.
- Be courteous. Traffic will be heavy. And with so many cars on the road filled with stressed drivers, road rage is a real possibility. Mind your driving manners and leave plenty of time to get out and back on schedule.
- Most of all, use common sense while doing your Christmas shopping. Doing so will make your holiday less stressful and more merry.