During the month of November each year, consumers gear up to find that just right gift for their loved ones. While the holiday season is full of shopping opportunities, one weekend in November provides three days of shopping to help you find the gift and possibly the perfect bargain to go along with it. Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday are just around the corner.
Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving and has typically been one of the busiest shopping days of the year. Many stores will offer extended hours and unique purchasing opportunities. Get ready now to help get the best deals. Go prepared to help make your shopping experience worry and complaint free.
- Set a budget and create your shopping list before you go to help stay within your means.
- Shop early and armed. Take copies of sales advertisements and coupons. Read the fine print for expiration dates and other limitations.
- Know the store. Ask about return policies, layaway programs, gift cards, etc. As well as what items are “all sales final” (i.e. clearance items) and what items have a re-stocking fee.
- Be on guard. Protect you packages, purses and personal information.
- Keep receipts and original packaging until you’re sure they won’t be returned.
If you plan to put your purchases on layaway ask about terms. Get the rules in writing if possible and mark dates for making payments and picking up items. Ask what happens if you are late on a payment or if you don’t pick up your items by a certain date. Unlike credit card charges you are not typically charged interest. You may, however be charged a down payment of up to 20% and any fees for keeping the items in layaway.
Small Business Saturday: is the Saturday after Black Friday and was created in 2010 by American Express as a day dedicated to supporting small businesses on the busiest shopping weekend of the year. BBB is helping spread awareness and advising consumers to support small businesses. Millions of shoppers participate in Small Business Saturday each year. In 2012, an estimated $5.5 billion was spent on Small Business Saturday. Shop with BBB Accredited Businesses; businesses you can trust.
If you’re not sure about what to buy, ask the store about its refund and exchange policies. Since having a refund or exchange policy is not required by law stores, can set their own policies. Although the store should specifically state what those policies are, it’s up to the consumer to know the policies and to realize they can change from store to store.
Cyber Monday: is the Monday after Thanksgiving weekend, December 2, this year. Just like shopping offline, start with accredited businesses with a proven track record. Make sure sites are secure; review privacy policies as well as return policies. Use your credit card to make online purchases; never wire money and avoid paying with other forms of payment which may not protect you like a credit card does. Protect your personal information and confirm that your online purchases are secure. Anyone can look good with a fancy website. Don’t be fooled.
For more information and shopping tips this holiday season go to www.bbb.org.