24. Shopping During the Prime of the Christmas Season
The saying that goes, 'The early bird catches the worm,' is in part true for those who get Christmas shopping off to an early start before the season actually begins. Most of us however, are likely to be average shoppers who wait until that time when the season officially begins. Maybe we don't have any time before then and we have to wait for a day off from work after Thanksgiving. Or maybe we simply procrastinate and can't get going until the frenzy starts or until when the stores are all fully decorated and Christmas songs and Carols are playing non-stop to put the thrill and magic into the festive season that is Christmas. Average Christmas holiday shoppers go out in force and are primarily motivated by the sales that occur during the official Christmas shopping season. These shoppers fully believe they are getting good prices and bargains from Christmas and holiday sales.
But it is unlikely that retailers will offer the lowest prices during a time that is prime shopping season. The lesson for the average and for all shoppers during the traditional Christmas shopping season is to carefully evaluate prices and consider if the item is fairly priced when compared to a the price during other times of the year. If items are simply snapped up during Christmas and the holidays because they are being offered in a 'sale,' the shopper may end up busting his or her budget or having 'buyers regret' about a purchase. Those who are average and early shoppers have some time however to get over any unwise purchases because such purchases can be returned and a better choice can be made. There is however another type of shopper.
The late or chronically late shopper is stuck with hoping that 'Aunt Sally' or Grandma will like the gift selected, even if the buyer had second thoughts about it after the purchase was made. The late shopper is one who realizes that there us a mere five (5) days - less than a week to go - before Christmas and not a single gift has been bought. Worse off than the late shopper is the chronically late Christmas shopper who is in a mad frenzy two (2) days before Christmas and faces a crisis when a desired gift such as a book has to be ordered and won't be shipped in time for Christmas. While those shoppers can get comfort from knowing they will likely benefit from the lowest markdowns of the period, they will also find scanty selections and some items, primarily clothing, that appear a bit worn from all the looking over and handling done by the hordes of Christmas shoppers. But even these late shoppers, who are often procrastinators and who can only be spurred into action by a looming deadline, can execute a strategy to make their Christmas shopping successful. Such a strategy involves more don'ts than things to do. Late Christmas shoppers should try to avoid having lists that have unusual or hard-to-get items that will need to be ordered. While retailers will offer shipping in time for Christmas, orders usually have to be made before a certain time, for example at least 36-72 hours before Christmas. If items aren't ordered within that timeframe, there is no guarantee that they will arrive for the big day. Those who do their Christmas shopping late should also be prepared to find items on their own in stores and not expect to get 'hand-holding help' from sales clerks.
With only days to go before Christmas and with everyone trying to get their last minute shopping done, it is impossible for most retailers to have enough staff to offer expert or even meaningful help to please the majority of Christmas shoppers. Soon after the excitement of Christmas Day passes, what frequently is the topic of conversations and what remains memorable in the New Year, is what gifts were received and given. So, in the coming days, it may be worth it to assess the type of shopper that you are and create a plan and strategy to make sure you will be a perfect Santa who will deliver the right gifts to friends and loved ones.
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