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Insights on business -- and life.

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NRF’s Top 10 Tips for Smart Holiday Shopping

What consumers are being told on getting the best deals from retailers.

by The National Retail Federation (November 20, 2006)

The decorations are out, lists have been made and consumers are hitting the stores ready to tackle their holiday shopping. While receiving a gift is always fun, long lines and crowded stores can make finding the perfect items for the people on your holiday list a little more stressful. The National Retail Federation (NRF) has assembled a list of ten tips guaranteed to take the headache out of your holiday shopping.

"Holiday to-do lists can get a little overwhelming this time of year," said Dan Butler, NRF’s Vice President of Retail Operations and Merchandising. "From finding out ahead of time when an item goes on sale to knowing the best times to avoid crowds, smart shoppers can follow little tricks of the trade to reduce unnecessary frustration."

NRF’s Top 10 Holiday Shopping Tips

1. Shop after 6:00 pm the evening before a sale is advertised to begin. Many retailers program the registers the night before, so the sale may already come up in the register even if they have not signed the selling floor yet. Ask the associate in advance for any possible upcoming sales, especially on big ticket items.

2. Prepare a list to use while you are shopping. Make sure to include alternative selections in case you are unable to find some of the items on your list.

3. Avoid crowds by shopping during stores’ early and late extended hours.

4. If you are looking for specific advertised items, take the complete ad with you so that you don’t end up in the wrong store looking for a specific price.

5. Staple a gift receipt to the merchandise tag in case it needs to be returned or exchanged. Keep your original receipts with any warranty paperwork for the life of the warranty.

6. Remember when gift shopping you are buying for someone else’s wants and needs, not your own. But don’t be surprised if you find some new necessities for yourself in the process!

7. Shop safely! Watch your personal belongings at all times including handbags and purchases. The stores are not responsible for any lost items so be careful, especially at the register when you can get easily distracted by the transaction itself.

8. Save yourself some wear-n-tear, let the charity group at the mall wrap your gifts for you. This will save you a lot of time and free you up to do other things on your holiday to-do lists.

9. When shopping online, have your credit cards and address book handy. Many websites have timed windows to complete a transaction, so you need to have any shipping information at your fingertips.

10. Wear comfortable shoes – you are going to be walking on a lot of marble and tile.

The National Retail Federation is the world's largest retail trade association, with membership that comprises all retail formats and channels of distribution including department, specialty, discount, catalog, Internet, independent stores, chain restaurants, drug stores and grocery stores as well as the industry's key trading partners of retail goods and services. NRF represents an industry with more than 1.6 million U.S. retail establishments, more than 24 million employees - about one in five American workers - and 2005 sales of $4.4 trillion. As the industry umbrella group, NRF also represents more than 100 state, national and international retail associations. www.nrf.com.

(Note: To read previous entries in "Kate's Collage," click on the titles in the right-hand column.)

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