September 6, 2012
Holiday shopping minus the crowds
For serious shoppers and hardcore bargain hunters, battling the crowds and enduring the endless lines on Black Friday are simply traditions that usher in the holiday shopping season. For the rest of us, the idea of rising at 3 a.m. on the morning after Thanksgiving and heading out into the night to compete for gifts and assorted holiday goods with thousands of zealous consumers is nothing short of a nightmare. But for the truly squeamish, whose goal is to avoid even the hint of a crowd, there are indeed ways to purchase every gift on your list without encountering hordes of holiday shoppers.
The most obvious strategy for avoiding the masses is to shop online. According to surveys conducted by public opinion pollsters Rasmussen Reports and BIGresearch, in 2010 nearly 64 percent of American adults did at least a portion of their shopping on the Web. Increasingly, people of all ages are opting to shop online not only to find better prices, but because purchasing via the Internet is convenient, fast and enables consumers to perform quick and accurate product and price comparisons. And with so many online retailers offering free shipping during the holiday season, many consumers see little reason to step inside a brick-and-mortar establishment.
However, even diehard e-shoppers recognize that there is something to be said for choosing a gift on site and in person; for taking the time to see and touch an object to determine its suitability. Whether you’re heading out in search of a dazzling diamond or a set of new dishtowels, here are some tips for avoiding shopping crowds:
• Shop all year round. It’s harder to sidestep the throngs of holiday shoppers during the peak season between October and late December. By picking up gifts throughout the year, you can take advantage of sales and avoid full parking lots and long lines. What’s more, year-round holiday shopping means that your gift budget gets spread out over the course of an entire year rather than a few short months.
• Shop when the crowds are elsewhere. The busiest holiday shopping periods are in the late afternoon or early evening and, of course, on weekends. If you can shop at lunchtime or take a few hours off during the workday, chances are good that stores will be far less crowded. Other good times to shop are during popular televised sporting events or television shows.
• Shop with purpose. If you know what you’re shopping for and have a good idea where to get it, there’s a greater likelihood that you can get in and out of the store quickly - and without blowing your budget on unnecessary items that catch your eye.