4 Tips for Shopping After-Christmas Sales

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Stores are boasting extended hours and extra-big sales today.

No, we haven’t time-traveled back to the day after Thanksgiving. It’s the day after Christmas – although it is looking more and more like Black Friday No. 2.

In fact, on 13 of the days between Dec. 26, 2010, and Jan. 15, 2011, online sales totaled more than they did on Black Friday, according to Google.

Stores realize that many consumers have today off and new gift cards to spend, so they’re competing for those shoppers’ business – all while trying to clear out certain sections of their stores before their spring merchandise arrives.

This year, a few stores even tried to coax shoppers out on Christmas Day. As I told you yesterday, Blockbuster handed out free batteries, and Target offered $10 off to shoppers who used their gift cards online.

If you missed those deals, here’s how to make the most of the after-Christmas sales – whether you pay with a gift card or not…

  1. Do your homework: If you don’t receive a Sunday newspaper, visit ShopLocal.com to read the same weekly ads that ran in your local papers yesterday. Also visit the websites of your favorite stores and the stores you expect to visit. If they have any after-Christmas sales or deals, you should find them prominently advertised on their home pages.
  2. Check the hours: Before you head out, call or check the websites of the chain stores you expect to visit to see if they posted extended hours.
  3. Get an early start: The longer you wait, the less of a selection you’ll have to pick from. Plus, if you have today off, the earlier in the day you shop, the less crowded stores will be because many folks have to work despite the public holiday.
  4. Bring your thinking cap: While many types of merchandise are on sale today, some types will be even more steeply discounted after the new year. So think before you buy: You have to weigh the importance of getting an item at the lowest possible price against the importance of getting the item period (because if you wait for the price to drop, there may not be any left). For details on which discounts to not take advantage of this week, check out our 9 Things to Buy in January and the Chicago Sun-Times’ After-Christmas sales are best for some things.

Karla Bowsher runs our Deals page, writes “Today’s Deals” posts every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday; and covers consumer and retail issues. If you have a comment, suggestion, or question, leave a comment or contact her at [email protected].

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