If you’re like me, you’ve still got some holiday shopping to do. According to RetailMeNot.com, 9 in 10 shoppers have last-minute gifts to buy and 30% wait until the week before Christmas to do a majority of their shopping. This will account for 34% of overall holiday spend, reported by NPDGroup. Last-minute holiday shopping can be both exhilarating and stressful. Adding to the stress is this year’s holiday calendar. With Christmas falling on a Friday, the shopping season loses a weekend, and the jam that would normally spread over the last 10 days, will be condensed into five or six.
Because of the time crunch, many shoppers let their guard down and become victims to shopping blunders. We’ve aggregated the best tips from Money.com, U.S. News and World Report, Today.com, and Forbes.com to bring you the Top Ten Things to Avoid over the final days of shopping.
- Beware of phishers. “Phishing emails are a common way for hackers to get at your personal information or break into your computer,” the BBB warns. “Around the holidays, beware of e-cards and messages pretending to be from companies like UPS, Federal Express or major retailers with links to package tracking information.”
- Gift Card Scams. Gift cards are the most popular last-minute gift. Often shoppers can get discounted gift cards from major manufacturers. For the safest possible purchase, buy gift cards directly from the source. And when buying in-store, remember to check that the scratch-off activation code on the back is untouched before purchase if the card was openly on display.
- Delegation Shopping Fraud. Some shoppers actual find that delegating shopping to a third-party can be convenient. Not if the third-party takes the money and runs. If you’re going down this route, be sure to do your homework.
- Door-Step Package Disappearance.People across the country have already reported boxes being stolen. To prevent becoming a victim, companies recommend requiring a signature on delivery, asking a neighbor to pick things up, or asking the shipper to hold your goods at its local outpost, where you can then pick it up.
- Respect the Shipping Cutoffs. Most shippers during the holidays offer a cutoff window when they can guarantee arrival before Christmas. But year after year shoppers think they can beat the system only to end up handing out gifts on December 27th. Trust the shippers. They’ve been doing this for decades.
- Christmas Eve? Feast or Famine. Christmas Eve historically has provided shoppers with amazing discounts and deals, but options can be slim pickings.
- Pet scams. Finding a furry friend for the family can be the perfect gift, but beware of scammers. In the past, shoppers find a “breeder” online, wire money for a pet they hope to adopt, but are ultimately left with nothing.The Humane Society of the United States recommends avoiding such scams by adopting Christmas puppies from a shelter, animal rescue group or breeder to whom you’ve been referred by someone you trust.
- Impulse Buys Bust the Budget. Many last-minute shoppers have found that setting a timer for their purchases actually helps them avoid the impulse buy that devours their budget.
- Don’t Save the Toughest Person Til Last. The smart people of Today.com found that knocking off the toughest person to shop for first can make it easier and more enjoyable to shop for everyone else on your list.
- Pickpockets: The Oldest Crime in the Book. Ironically, pickpocketing is still the most frequent way people lose money every holiday shopping season. As obvious as it sounds, take precautions to secure wallets and purses.
The question for retailers and brands is, how are we helping shoppers increase their excitement and decrease their stress these last few shopping days? What can we do in future holidays to make shoppers more safe, secure and protected?
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