Are you gearing up for holiday shopping? Whether you usually wake up at 3 a.m. to be first in line for Black Friday sales or you take your sweet time, shopping in dribs and drabs from October through December 24, be prepared for things to look a little different this year. I’ve put together the following trends to help you make sense of the new shopping landscape.
Trend 1: If you do the bulk of your shopping on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, you’re in luck. Retailers will release strong offers from Thanksgiving eve all the way to Cyber Monday, creating what I like to call the 5 Days of Savings.
Trend 2: Retailers will stagger deals to prevent those crazy bottlenecks on busy shopping days like Black Friday. Several retailers tried this in 2013, and according to RetailMeNot research, 46 percent of consumers felt that stores were less crowded on Black Friday than in previous years. Whew!
Trend 3: If you’ve ever been disappointed to find that the sale item you were dying to buy was out of stock, never fear. Some retailers will guarantee product availability if the purchase is made during a specific time frame. If a guaranteed item is out of stock, the discounted price will be honored and the item can be shipped to you free of charge.
Trend 4: More retailers will offer price matching against online and brick-and-mortar competitors. In fact, Target recently announced it will be offering price matching all year (not just during the holidays), and Walmart will give you a Savings Catcher e-card when you find a lower advertised price at select retailers.
Trend 5: Do you like to look for coupons online or find them on your smartphone? Whichever way you like to save, offers will be made available through a variety of channels, including email, mobile, social and print, making in-store and online savings easier.
Trend 6: Membership will have its privileges, especially during the holidays. Over the last couple of years, retailers like Kmart, Kohl’s and Target provided their loyal customers with a variety of benefits, like early info on sales and extra points for purchases. I recommend that you join the loyalty programs of your favorite retailers to take full advantage of these members-only benefits.
Trend 7: Black Friday isn’t just about electronics deals anymore. Based on RetailMeNot coupon click data from 2013, we saw a slight downturn in electronics in favor of apparel and health and beauty. My advice? Continue to keep your eyes peeled for those electronics doorbusters, but also look for deals in the apparel and health-and-beauty spaces as well.
Trend 8: Are you a procrastinator? Don’t wait until the last minute this year. Although retailers and shipping companies are doing everything they can to avoid the last-minute shipping issues from last year. Plan ahead and also take advantage of many of the new shipping options that will be available, like buying online and picking up in-store; shipping from the store (instead of a warehouse, where it takes longer and costs more); reserving online and paying when you pick up; and taking advantage of shipping lockers at convenient locations.
Need gift inspiration? Check out our many holiday gift guides that will start going live November 1!