ARA offers after-season shopping tips

Published 5:35 pm Friday, December 26, 2008

Even though the tree may still be up and the discarded wrapping paper not even cleared away, now’s the best time to start shopping for the 2009 holiday season, according to the Alabama Retail Association.

Here’s five reasons:

– You can save now on all holiday items – gift wrap, bows, cards and decorations – and reduce next year’s holiday stress. Make your New Year’s resolution to shop throughout the year for Christmas gifts.

– You can save money while spending the gift cards and cash you got for Christmas, and you’ll help out your local economy by adding those purchases to this year’s bottom line.

– Discounts on the most popular Christmas gifts – apparel, toys, linens and kitchen items, especially small kitchen appliances – could reach the 60 percent to 80 percent range.

– You’ll see another 10 percent to 20 percent taken off items that were discounted before Christmas.

– Total savings could reach nearly 90 percent with coupons you’ll find in newspapers, online or in the last bill from your favorite retailer.

The ARA also offers the folllowing tips for successful after-Christmas shopping.

– Don’t limit yourself to department stores. Grocery stores, drug stores and book stores have great after-Christmas sales as well.

– If you have anything you want to exchange for a certain size or color, show up as early as possible the day after Christmas.

Retailers cut back on inventory in 2008, so the longer you wait the fewer choices you’ll have.

To ensure easy return, leave your gift in the original packaging and take along the gift receipt, if you have one. More than half of retailers say their return policies are more lenient this year, but it wouldn’t hurt to know the policy before you arrive at the store.

– If you want to exchange a gift and you don’t have a certain item in mind to replace it, you might want to wait until the end of the week or the first weekend in January.

The exchange lines will be longer right after Christmas. Really deep discounts will occur the 1st weekend in January, but inventory also will be extremely thin by then.

– Write down where you hide any 2009 gifts (maybe on the December calendar page for next year).

– If buying for next year, have particular people in mind, write down what you bought for whom and attach the list to the packaging in which you store the gifts.