According to the National Retail Federation, 140 million people expect to make purchases during the holiday kickoff shopping weekend. Of those, 97 million shoppers plan to shop on Black Friday. In 2012, the average holiday shopper spent $423. Total spending reached an estimated $59.1 billion.
“It's unfortunate and disheartening that although it's the season for giving, it is also often a time for scammers to thrive”, said Mechele Agbayani Mills, President and CEO of BBB Serving Central East Texas. “A little planning and a lot of awareness go a long way to make shopping a less stressful, and therefore, less messy experience.”
BBB has these seven tips to help consumers save time, stress and money on this busy shopping weekend:
1. Plan ahead. Take time to print out or clip ads for items you are interested in buying to help outline your shopping day in advance.
2. Create a budget. Know whom you are buying gifts for and how much you are willing to spend. As you buy gifts, keep track of the cost and avoid impulse purchases to prevent over-spending.
3. Research products and companies. Just because an item is in high-demand and being offered at a low price, doesn’t mean the product is worthwhile or right for you. Thoroughly research any product you’re interested in purchasing to see how it is performing in the marketplace, and make sure the companies you deal with have a track record of keeping their word. Go to bbb.org to find businesses you can trust.
4. Don’t be misled by tricky advertisements. Read the fine print on all advertised sales to make sure you are truly saving money, and bring the ad with you. Watch for discrepancies in advertised prices and the prices on the shelf. Verify the real price before checking out.
5. Ask about return policies. Many stores have a 30-day return policy, but it is important to read the terms and conditions associated with each purchase. And remember that the refund policy usually applies to the day you purchase the item not when you give the item as a gift.
6. Think twice about store credit cards. Some retailers will offer additional savings to incentivize consumers to sign up for their credit card. However, these cards often times carry high interest rates or annual fees. If you do not plan on shopping at a particular retailer very often, or if you are unable to pay off balances at the end of each month, the credit card might not be financially beneficial for you.
7. Keep your receipt. Always keep a purchase receipt with you in case you need to return the item for any reason. If you don’t want a printed receipt, stores may be able to email one.
Visit bbb.org to find businesses you can trust and tips on how to be a savvy consumer. To report a fraud or unscrupulous business practices, call the BBB Hotline: (903) 581-8373.