Newswise — Ca-ching! Before the Thanksgiving turkey carcass hits the trashcan, consumers will be flocking to start—or if they are very organized and lucky, finish—their Christmas shopping.
Dr. Diane Hamilton, a professor in the Rohrer College of Business at Rowan University, Glassboro, N.J., is not only a business pro, she's also a savvy (and early) shopper. Hamilton, whose 2006 Christmas shopping is completed, is not one to chastise late shoppers; instead she suggests buyers minimize some of the holiday frenzy by shopping online. Hamilton said that move helps people avoid long lines, limited parking spaces, traffic around malls, teaser items that get sold quickly and the irritability/stress resulting from all of them.
"Online retailers will have as many sales as brick and mortar stores," Hamilton said. "Relax with your coffee and leftovers, and shop at home. Let the UPS guy carry the packages to your front door. It doesn't get any easier to purchase the perfect gifts at this time of year."
Her tips/information for the procrastinators among us:
1) When people shop online they are less likely to impulse purchase, which can save money.
2) People should avoid paying for shipping unless they can only find an item at a site that charges shipping. If you look around, you can almost always avoid shipping costs. If shipping is nominal (e.g., at Overstock.com it's $2.95 per order), it's still cheaper than gas and time. She herself bought for her daughter and son-in-law the new bedroom they requested at Overstock—mattress, box spring, comforter set, sheet set and curtains— and paid only $2.95 to have all of it delivered. Amazon.com offers free shipping everyday as long as the order is $25 or more.
3) Go through FatWallet.com to get cash back on every purchase. The variety of stores available through FatWallet is both diverse and huge. This site also indicates what online sales are available and coming up.
4) Try to wait for an online sale. Go to your favorite sites and sign up for email announcements of sales and specials. Sure, you have to delete this email, but it will also signal when to get 20 to 50 percent off. You can also use another, free, email service just for this type of mail so you aren't troubled by the volume of email all year long.
5) Online shopping removes the travel time to and from various stores, which is a huge time saver. It's also convenient because you have 24/7 access.
Hamilton, of Glassboro, N.J. earned a B.S. in business/MIS at Rowan University; M.B.A. at Drexel University; and Ph.D. in business/computer information systems at Temple University.