If there's a silver lining to this economy, it's that retailers are going to be scrambling to get consumers in stores this holiday season, and that means bigger deals than ever before. "Retailers are already being aggressive with price cuts, and we've been seeing sales for the last couple of weeks. They will continue throughout the season," says Kathy Grannis, spokeswoman for the National Retail Federation. Here are some of the best tips for taking advantage:
Give clothing and electronics.
Apparel stores tend to use a large markup, which means it's easier for them to slash prices if need be.
Don't kill yourself on Black Friday.
Trust me, it's not worth it. This year, Black Friday isn't just a day, it's a season. About 40 percent of consumers started their shopping before Halloween.
Take advantage of electronics sales.
"When retailers are struggling, they concentrate on getting people in the door. There are two ways to do that: either an amazing new product or a sale. This year, there's no huge new product, so they'll have to drop prices," says Dan de Grandpre, CEO of DealNews.com. Use the Web. Not just for shopping, although that's a great way to save on gas since free shipping is a relatively standard promotion—in fact, 78 percent of retailers plan to offer it this year. But the Internet is also a great place to find and print coupons. Just search for the store name and the word "coupon." And even if you don't want to seal the deal online, you can search for the item you're looking for before you hit the mall so you know where to go to get the best price.
Take advantage of liquidation sales. Sadly, many stores are going out of business this year, which is terrible for the economy in the long run but good for your wallet in the short. Look for liquidation sale advertisements on television and in your local newspapers, says de Grandpre.
Stock up. While prices are low, think ahead. Is a friend's birthday in January? Is your DVD player on the fritz? It may be worth it to buy now if you see a sale. Just be sure to check the return policy—discounted items often have restrictions.