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7 Tips for Holiday Shopping in California

Analysts love to predict how much people will spend on the holidays and what they will purchase. Regardless of the shopping trends, if you want to get a head start on your holiday gift buying here are seven tips for holiday shopping:

  • 1. Start looking online today for the bargains. You'll either find some unexpected deals, or you will be able to create a baseline for the price of an item so you'll recognize a deal when you see price changes down the road.
  • 2. If you really want a specific item, don't rule out buying it now--before Black Friday. Why? You can always return it for refund (check store policies) if the same merchandise is cheaper in upcoming weeks when you snag the item for less.
  • 3. Keep an eye out for soft rollouts of sale items before Thanksgiving. Stores compete neck-to-neck and may introduce pre-Thanksgiving sales to gain advantage over competitors.
  • 4. Don't trust search engines to give you the best results (cheapest prices). For instance, in looking for a pair of Florsheim shoes this week, Amazon consistently came up in the search engine as the choice for buying a specific style. We used for anonymous Internet search of However, Google skews even anonymous search results. While they don't have your demographic information in such searches, they still can push their preferred advertisers to the top of the search results list.
  • 5. Don't overlook places such as JC Penny, Sears, Best Buy, Walmart, Kohls and Target in your online search of lowest pricing, often below Amazon prices.
  • 6. Before you make a purchase, do a double-check of sites such as and for coupon codes and deals. I saved an extra 15% off an already discounted item on JCPenny website using a coupon code.
  • 7. Think outside the box, literally! Some items are sold without original packaging or boxes and are sold at a greatly discounted price which still includes the same warranty as the boxed version. Likewise, if a refurbished item carries the same warranty as the new item but costs less than half the amount, the value may be too great to pass up.

Holiday shopping pitfalls

  • Missing the gift purchase because the item sold out. Merchants purposefully kept limited inventories.
  • Receiving the wrong item and having to pay for shipping it back.
  • Buying a gift that the recipient doesn't want, but can't be returned.
  • Paying for items that are missing. Double check bags before you leave the store. You can also have a store clerk open a box to check contents on many items.
  • Waiting in long lines to buy gifts.
  • Having to drive around to find parking.
  • Unable to sign for delivered packages.

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