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Holiday shopping in December, when physical stores are jam-packed and online prices update at lightning speed, is only for the boldest and bravest. Here are some shopping secrets retailers don’t want you to know, but we’re going to tell you. Because knowledge is power!
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1. Desperate retailers will drop prices close to Christmas.
As soon as December hits, retailers get increasingly desperate to keep you spending until the end of the year. This is because they need to hit those sales numbers to keep investors happy.
In 2020, Target marked down the Beats Studio3 Wireless Headphones to $174.99 for Black Friday. But just four days before Christmas, that price dropped even lower to just $161.49.
Look for Black Friday repeat deals (and even better deals) the week before Christmas.
Don’t forget to download The Krazy Coupon Lady App to track changing prices on your favorite products and brands. Sign up for deal alerts to get notified when prices drop or last-minute sales hit!
2. Online prices change daily during the Christmas shopping season.
Holiday prices on consumer goods go up and down more than the stock market.
Don’t let Christmas shopping get the best of your budget. You can use Capital One’s Price Protection feature to get the price difference back when an item you’ve bought goes on sale for less. For most purchases, the Price Protection feature works automatically — so no need to follow up on price drops or file claims to get reimbursed.
Here’s how it works:
- Price Protection scans your inbox to find recent purchases (from the past 30 days) based on shipping and order confirmations sent to your email.
- It then continuously monitors and compares price changes for these items in real-time.
- Once an eligible claim is detected, Price Protection reaches out to the retailer on your behalf and files a claim for a refund.
- When Price Protection succeeds and the retailer issues a price adjustment, your refund is either credited directly onto the original form of payment provided, or you receive store credit for the equivalent amount.
Capital One’s Price Protection feature used to be called Paribus. If you were already using Paribus but don’t have a Capital One Shopping account, you can still use the Price Protection feature by logging in with your Paribus email here.
3. Some stores have their own holiday price-match policies.
Some retailers will price match their own items throughout the holiday shopping season. So if you buy an item in early November and the price drops lower for Black Friday, you’ll qualify for a price adjustment and get refunded for the difference.
New this year is Target’s Holiday Price Match Guarantee. Starting Oct. 10, any item you purchase from Target qualifies for a price adjustment if the Target price drops on or before December 24. To get the price adjustment, show the receipt from your original purchase to the cashier at checkout. For online purchases, call Target Guest Services at 1-800-591-3869 to request the price adjustment.
Best Buy launched a similar Price Guarantee for My Best Buy and Totaltech members. You’ll automatically get reimbursed if an item you bought sells for less later on in the season!
4. Most shoppers forget to come back for Black Friday perks and bonus cash offers.
Stores offer a ton of extra perks on Black Friday purchases to get you into the stores, but you typically can’t redeem them until December.
Ever wonder why? Because most customers who do their Christmas shopping early don’t come back to shop in December. That month is reserved for half-crazed, procrastinating shoppers who barely stop to look at prices.
But that doesn’t have to be you. After you’re done Christmas shopping, save your receipts, where some retailers print coupons and bonus offers. Or, staple bonus coupons to your receipts so you don’t forget to use them in December. Also, dig through your shopping bags — some retailers like Old Navy just kind of shove their store bucks down inside there.
If you shop online, dig through your email inbox or trash folder to find perks from purchases you may have missed.
Here are some truly awesome bonus cash offers we’ve seen for the holidays:
- Kohl’s: $15 Kohl’s Cash for every $50 spent (online or in store)
- Old Navy: Earn $10 Super Cash for every $25 spent
- JCPenney: Spend $100 on gift cards and get a free $25 off any $25 purchase coupon
- RiteAid: Spend $50 on gift cards and get $8 in BonusCash
5. Those holiday trinkets along the checkout aisle are there for a reason.
You know when you’re waiting in the checkout line and something shiny catches your eye?
It happens to all of us. And it seems harmless to drop one of those items into your cart, but all those “affordable” prices can really stack up.
It’s no mistake that stores line their checkout aisles with eye-catching items you’re naturally drawn to. They’re counting on you to make impulse buys that tack another $20-$40 onto your purchase total.
So, resist the urge to shop after you’re done shopping. Yes, many of these items work well as stocking stuffers, but you’ll be overspending for sure.
6. You can use online coupons and promo codes in store, too.
Some retailers offer online coupons or promo codes that you can also use in store. All you gotta do is skim their coupon policy FAQ or call and ask customer service. Still, I’d suggest bookmarking the policy on your phone. Some employees get a little confused over the finer points, and you might need to politely clarify this when you go to check out.
Macy’s will let you say the promo code out loud at the register. I personally don’t feel the slightest bit weird saying “SCORE” to the cashier — not if it gets me an extra 10-15% off Christmas shopping!
A few other retailers that let you use online coupons in store are:
- Michaels: Browse promo codes and coupons online and print them out to use in store.
- Petco: Pals Rewards members can head to the store with coupons labeled “in store and online.”
- Bed Bath & Beyond: Subscribe to Bed Bath & Beyond’s mobile offers to use online coupons and promo codes in store via your smartphone.
7. Stores will price match competitors like Amazon.
Amazon is well known for low prices on the same items you’ll find at individual retailers. In fact, it’s possible you’ll find even lower prices on Amazon than from the original stores themselves.
But no need to worry — lots of popular retailers will match Amazon’s lower prices. In most cases, all you’ll have to do is bring up the Amazon listing on your phone and show it to the cashier. If you’re shopping online, you’ll typically have to call the retailer’s customer service number to get the price adjustment (but it’s totally worth it).
If you’re Christmas shopping in the store, use the Amazon mobile shopping app to price match items on the go.
Some of our favorite stores that price match Amazon are:
See our full list of stores that will price match Amazon along with specific instructions for each!
8. Some holiday return policies are better than others.
Flexible return policies are EVERYTHING when it comes to Christmas shopping. Having to return a holiday purchase is just part of the game, but some stores make it easier than others.
Bath & Body Works has one of the best return policies out there. You can return items you’ve already used at any time and get a full refund with a receipt. They’ll even let you exchange things like lotion or candles that are half used for a different scent, without a receipt.
During the holidays, stores with the best return policies don’t exactly shout them from the rooftops, but these stores tend to have the most flexibility:
Learn more about holiday shopping returns.