by Christina Walker
You've seen it before: You've seen it before: the holiday shopping crowds milling about the store, cleaning off the shelves and standing in massive lines waiting for the doors to open. Banish your inner Scrooge by avoiding the holiday crowds altogether. You have better things to do than get up early to wait in line only to fight through masses of people and find an empty gifts and flowers aisle. There are several ways you can leave the holiday shopping crowds behind and truly enjoy the season; keep reading to learn some tips and tricks on how to avoid holiday shopping crowds.
Shop online: There aren't any crowds in an online store. If the Website has lots of shoppers at one time, it may slow down and take longer to load pages and checkout, but online holiday shopping still saves you the time of running to the store, waiting and coming home. Shopping online also lets you better compare prices and products. Online stores often have better selections than brick-and-mortar stores, and customers leave reviews about the products' construction, durability, looks and usability; browsing the variety and reading lots of reviews will help you find the best gifts for the best prices. Online holiday shopping poses the additional problem of shipping costs, but you can circumvent these costs in a few ways: many stores offer discounted shipping when you spend over a certain dollar amount, while others discount shipping during certain times of the year or offer reduced product and shipping costs to members. Remember to factor in shipping time.
Shop all year: Holiday shopping crowds really build up between October and late December, so looking for gifts in April or August will save you the anxiety of crowds because they won't be there. There are many advantages to doing your holiday shopping all year. This way, you have tons more time to look for the best gifts and great deals. If you find a better price on a gift after you've purchased it, you have the time to return the higher priced item and get the cheaper one. You have plenty of time for items purchased online to be shipped to your home, and your gift budget gets spread out over a much longer amount of time, meaning you can avoid excessive credit card bills during the holidays as well as the crowds.
Shop at unusual times: The most common times to go holiday shopping are after school and work and especially on weekends. If you can get your shopping done during work hours or prime time TV shows, you're less likely to run into crowds. Leave work early to run to the store for the last gift on your list or shop online during your lunch break. Shopping during football or basketball games or the new episode of a popular TV show can also save you the hassle of holiday shopping crowds, as they are more likely to stay home and watch these prime-time programs. Shopping at unusual times can also help you find great end-of-week or start-of-week sales.
Shop prepared: The prepared shopper is a relatively stress-free shopper. Just as you make and follow lists for groceries, make a list for holiday shopping. Write down everyone you need to buy a gift for, your price range for each person or gift and any gift ideas you have for each person. Then do your research and find the best deals for each gift idea; write down which store or Website you want to purchase which gift from. Preparation like this will help you avoid crowds because you can get in, get the gift and get out fairly quickly, and it will help you verify that you haven't forgotten anyone.