Category Archives for "holiday season"

Online Holiday Sales Expected to Surge by 90% in 2020

By Randall Orser | Business , holiday season , online shopping , Small Business

Shopping in this 2020 holiday season is going to look unlike anything we have ever seen before as 30% of shoppers will be buying their gifts online.  This will cause a shift in what is known as the seasonal rush as couriers, delivery services and Canada Post rush to deliver parcels.  A huge surge in online shopping occurred almost overnight starting back in March as shops closed due to the pandemic.  Digital sales saw a five year acceleration in just a few months trigged by this change in shopping habits and the retail industry will see a 15% market share which took 30 years to reach explode to at least 30% by the end of the year.

As more people are choosing to shop from home the main driver of these online sales will be social media direct advertising.  At least 15% of purchases will be referred to company websites from social channels especially in the height of the season and almost one in ten online purchases will be made directly through digital purchase points on social media.  The digital e-commerce demand is so strong this year that experts predict that companies offering personalized and curb side pick up options will increase their digital sales by 90% in 2020.

The anticipated volume of parcels to be delivered prompted Canada Post to release a video asking consumers to shop early to help to alleviate the backlog for their workers and to ensure packages were delivered on time.  On December 14th alone, Canada Post delivered half a million parcels.  They are adding more than 4,000 temporary seasonal workers and increasing their fleet by more than 1,000 vehicles.  There will be weekend deliveries and additional pick up points and post office hours will be extended.  Additional processing equipment has been installed along with enhanced tracking technology to enable customers to track packages. Despite these measures up to 70 million gifts could be delivered late.   

Many larger retailers have set up their own delivery services or teamed up with mail carriers and couriers to delivery purchases to customers.  Many are offering national two day shipping and next day delivery in major cities and in additions some started their holiday events early offering shopping with strict social distancing measures, online shopping with curb side pick up or home delivery.  

In order to have a successful holiday season retailers have had to change the ways that they do business to include more personal services such as the ability to chat on line with a store associate. Offering free shipping often with a dollar amount of purchases is always a bonus to attract a customer and have them buy more to get free shipping.

From an article by Michelle Singerman

Tips to Avoid the Post-Holiday Finance Blues

By Randall Orser | Budget , holiday season , online shopping , Personal Finances

Every holiday season we try to resist the temptation to overspend, but for those of us who are not successful, we have to deal with the post-holiday finance blues when the credit card bills arrive in January.  2020 has been a difficult year for all of us especially financially so this season it is important more than ever to stay within our budget.  Here are some ideas that might help you to keep your spending in line.

1. Pause before you act - remember last year and how long it took you to pay off those credit cards?  This year instead of splurging too much on gifts for your family and friends, consider making home made gifts, they are often more appreciated.

2. Set a budget and stick to it - according to the annual Holiday Spending Survey by the CPA only 39% of Canadians save all year for their holiday purchases.  Maybe you should consider doing this for Christmas 2021 but in the meantime make a sensible budget for gifts and food and stay to it.  Due to the pandemic it is expected that people will spend less in 2020 as they will not be going to parties and travelling, even so it will be easy to overspend on making your Christmas at home memorable.

3. Avoid credit at all costs - Most of us get a rude awakening in January when those credit card bills arrive especially those with high interest rates.  Even though stores may be offering you a discount on purchases remember if you have to pay high interest rates on their credit cards that discount can quickly disappear if you do not pay off your bill in full.  

4. Think about an app to track your spending - tracking your spending is essential to prevent going over your budget.  Even if you have set a limit it is so easy to overspend on gifts and and all the frills for an enjoyable holiday.

5. Be creative and responsible - People you care about do not want you to go into debt to give them gifts.  Instead overspending on gifts think about what you can do for them which may mean a whole lot more, such as babysitting, making them meals or treats, help with minor repairs or just spending time with them. 

6. Give younger kids experiences not stuff - Instead of giving them lots of toys that they easily become bored with, how about signing them up for sports, or giving them event tickets to use when the pandemic is over?  

7. Resist those Boxing Day sales - Shopping on Boxing Day is a bargain hunter's dream, but in reality many items can be found cheaper at other times of the year.  You need to have amazing willpower not to impulse buy even online.  This year most of us will not be going to the mall and the good thing about online purchasing is that you can do your research for the best price, and really think about whether or not you really need to buy the item at all. 

From an article by Mathieu de Larjartre

Canadians Plan to Spend Most of Their Seasonal Budget on Gifts

By Randall Orser | Budget , holiday season , Personal Finances

A 2020 holiday spending study by CPA Canada has shown that despite the pandemic shoppers have managed to save money for holiday gifts, and most people will be spending $588 this year compared to $583 in 2019.  In a normal year most people would be busy making lists and planning celebrations but this is far from a normal year and even though Covid-19 continues to ravage the economy most people have managed to set money aside for gifts even if they cannot celebrate with work colleagues friends and loved ones.

People will spend the most on gifts this year - To try and make up for this difficult year and treat themselves people will spend money on electronics, furniture and beauty products.  Old fashioned gifts such as board games will be popular as people will be stuck at home. 

Spending on entertainment will be down - The survey showed that 13% of respondents planned to spend nothing at all on entertainment outside of the home, and those who are venturing out plan to spend less than $200.  The usual Christmas socializing will not be happening, no corporate or personal Christmas parties, so there will be no temptation to overspend, for example on fancy clothing.  

There will be a lot less travelling - Travel is expected to take a big hit, over a third of respondents to the survey said they would not be spending anything on travel, 38% will be spending less than $200.  Travel can be a big expense for families at Christmas but most will be staying close to home this holiday season.

In person shopping will be down - Only 30% of respondents to the survey planned to shop in bricks and mortar stores and will be shifting to online options.  One in three people will be doing the majority of their shopping online compared to one in five in 2019.  Rushing around crowded malls to do last minute shopping will not happen for most shoppers this year, instead they have to plan their shopping online early in order to get  deliveries in time for Christmas.

It's ok to treat yourself - Financial experts say that Canadians should not be too concerned about treating themselves this Christmas as long as they do not go too far overboard.  After a tough year everyone should enjoy themselves at Christmas.

From an article by Margaret Craig-Bourbon

How to be a Smarter Online Shopper

By Randall Orser | Covid-19 , holiday season , online shopping , Scams

Due to the pandemic many of us have moved our shopping online. Sales online have soared in 2020 and they are expected to beat previous records during the holiday season. Most of us are buying from reputable sources that we are familiar with for groceries, electronics, clothing and much more. But as Christmas comes around we might be searching a little wider afield for that perfect gift and buying from vendors that we are not familiar with. You need to be smart when placing that online order to make it a safe experience and avoid potential issue. Here are some suggestions to keep in mind:

1. Read Reviews - Do your research and make sure that your vendor has a good reputation and has reviews that are genuine and are from verified buyers. Check for negative reviews especially from multiple people and how the company responds to them. Be careful to trust reviews that seem over exaggerated they may be fake.

2.  Beware of Red Flags

  • If the site looks unprofessional or is missing important information you could be dealing with a sketchy company which could put you at risk. Important things to look for are contact information, an actual address, phone number and email address.  
  • If the site is poorly designed with many spelling mistakes, bad grammar or broken links.  
  • If the back button does not work and you are stuck on a page, this could be a sign that the site is not legitimate.  
  • The site asks for your credit card information early on, you should not be asked for this until you are ready to finalize the purchase.

3.  Read the Fine Print about returns and refunds.  In BC there are not laws that deal directly with refund, exchange and return policies so retailers can set their own policies for customer returns and they can differ widely. This is especially true during the pandemic where some stores have changed their policies to reduce the risk of infection for customers and staff.  Make sure you read the fine print and know what you are agreeing up.

4.  Confirming your purchase - Before you confirm your purchase, make sure you see the following things:

  • A detailed description of the goods or services
  • The currency
  • The delivery details, including the shipping method and details of delivery
  • The cancellation, return, exchange and refund policies if any.

5. Know your rights should your purchase not arrive - Again due to the pandemic receiving orders can take longer than normal especially if buying from overseas. It is annoying when your purchase does not arrive, you may be able to get some help under BC law, check out How to get a refund if your online order never arrives

6.  Know what you can do when there is an issue with quality -  There are many funny posts on the internet about products bought on line not being exactly as advertised but it might not be amusing when it happens to you.  It is difficult to define a quality issue as everyone has different ideas of what they consider to be poor quality.  However if you are dissatisfied with a product you can read more about what your options are here.

Trust your gut, if a site appears dodgy then it probably is, look for a more reputable vendor and remember it is always good to support your local retailers as much as possible, during this pandemic they really need your help to survive.

From an article by Consumer Protection BC

Six Ways to Celebrate the Season During the Pandemic

By Randall Orser | holiday season , Personal Finances

After the year that we have had in 2020 many of us would love to travel to visit friends and relatives or just have a getaway, but unfortunately we still cannot do that.  However if you are still looking to add some sparkle to the season here are a few ideas for you.

1. Visit your local mountains to ski and snowboard.  At the time of writing we are still allowed to visit our local ski hills as long as we stay within our bubble.  The Canadian Ski industry has a set of guidelines called  Ski Well Be Well.  All skiers and snowboarders are expected to wear a mask at all times indoors and outdoors unless eating or drinking.  All skiers should go online before leaving home to book tickets check parking restrictions.

2. Take a walk or ski in the park.  We are very lucky to have a number of parks and lakes in the Greater Vancouver area where we can go for the day to hike and get lots of fresh air.  Pack a lunch and have a picnic in the great outdoors.

3. Stay and Play at home, find activities that you can enjoy without leaving your own backyard.  For example cycle enthusiasts can take up indoor cycling by either setting up their regular bike on a trainer or investing in a smart bike designed for indoor use.   If you have a backyard, think about having a fire pit and get the family together to roast marshmallows.  If you prefer to stay inside there are lots of board games the family can play together, and of course you can always binge on Netflix and other streaming services and rediscover all those Christmas movies.  

4. Many people have discovered their inner chef or baker and the enjoyment to be found in a home cooked meal with all the family together.  Get your kids away from the tv and video games and have a family baking session.  Many kids love learning to make things such as cookies and cake pops and eat them later.  

5.  Make trimming the tree a special occasion.  Involve all the family in setting up inside and outside lights, decorating the house and trimming the tree.  Finish the day with hot chocolate and other Christmas treats.  You could also take a walk around your neighbourhood and enjoy all the  festive lights.   

6. Think about how you can help those less fortunate during the holiday season.  Look online for volunteer opportunities in your area and encourage your kids to participate. 

Whatever you decide to do you are sure to have fun, and who knows maybe you will start some new family traditions.

From an article by Margaret Craig-Bourdin

Happy New Year! How does the World Celebrate?

By Randall Orser | Happy New Year , holiday season

Wow, it’s hard to believe that 2019 is coming to a close already as it feels we just started it a few weeks ago. I do hope your 2019 has been a good one, and that 2020 is even better.  Ever been curious as to how New Year is celebrated in other parts of the world?

The Finns do it the weirdest

In Finland, each new year family and friends gather to burn metal in a pan for a ritual called "molybdomancy". The Finns inspect the shadows the metal casts by candlelight, as those shapes are supposed to predict the future. Although, this metal is customarily called “tin,” it’s actually sometimes lead, which, among other things, is known to spark severe mental illness... that might explain why this ritual has persisted for hundreds of years. And while that's all pretty well and weird, the Finns aren't alone: Ecuadorians burn paper-filled scarecrows, the Swiss drop ice cream on the floor, and people in Siberia plunge into frozen lakes while carrying a tree trunk -- all to ring in the new year.

The 8th most common New Year's resolution is to improve a relationship

Only around 40% of us will even make a resolution. While nearly all of those vows err on the side of improvement (e.g. start exercising, improve your finances, quit smoking), the 8th most common resolution is to get along better with someone else, according to a 2012 Harris poll. So what’s the number one New Year’s resolution? Weight loss (duh).

We celebrate on Jan. 1 because Julius Caesar said so

Why does the New Year begin on January 1st? Because our contemporary (Gregorian) calendar is based on the Julian one (named after none other than the Big Ceas) and he made January month numero uno (which is latin for "number one" btw).

But New Year's used to be on March 20th

The first indication of a new year’s celebrations crop up around 2000 BC in the Middle East. Or, as its known in 9th grade history class, “Mesopotamia". At that time (2000 BC, not 9th grade), each year began on March 20th, AKA the vernal (or Spring) equinox. That's the one where the sun crosses directly over the equator. Nowadays, celebrating New Year’s is illegal in much of the same region (e.g. Saudi Arabia). Fertile crescent? More like festive crescent!

January is named after a god with two faces

We have ancient Rome to thank for our year beginning in January. The Roman god the month is named after, Janus, was described as having two faces. That's not a catty put-down either. We mean he literally had double the mug. When depicted in ancient Roman art, one of Janus' faces looks forward, while the other looks back. You know, like how you do on New Year's. Mad metaphorical.

Southerners eat black-eyed peas on New Year's Day for good luck

Thought to have been derived from a Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah) custom, Americans in the South annually gobble black-eyed peas. Most Southerners (and many historians) maintain the tradition began to take hold stateside when the first Shepari Jews moved to Georgia in the 1730s. By the end of the Civil War, the Rosh Hashanah tradition had evolved into a widespread practice in the South, enjoyed by both Jews and gentiles.

The ball drop is over 100 years old

Before Times Square was the home of M&Ms, naked cowboys, and hard-haggling middle-aged men in Elmo costumes, it was a classy little bit of town, called One Times Square. Its first New Year’s ball dropping took place December 31, 1907. Since then, it’s tumbled down every year (save for a couple during World War II). Over a million-people flock to watch every December.

The New Year's kiss has been around since the Middle Ages

Historians reckon that the New Year’s kiss is derived from either German and English folklore (it was a tradition in both). Both customs contended this: the first person you encounter in a new year will set that year’s tone. So, if the person you encounter likes you enough to make out with you, things are looking pretty good. Or maybe you're just looking pretty good.

The only other people who still sing "Auld Lang Syne" are Boy Scouts

The lyrics of Auld Lang Syne (which we can't abbreviate because ice buckets) are from a 1788 poem by an old Scot called Robert Burns. Well, Burns attributed the lyrics to unwritten remarks by an unnamed old man. But a few graphs of it very closely (near verbatim) resemble a poem called "Old Long Syne" written in 1711 by a man called James Watson. It's assumed Burns at least wrote the rest of it. Things like: Is thy sweet Heart now grown so cold, that loving Breast on thine. Catchy. Apparently, the Boy Scouts of America sing it at the end of their jamborees. Now you want a "Things you didn't know about Boy Scouts", right!?

Nearly a quarter of you are gonna be asleep before midnight

About 22% of Americans cop to passing out before the clock strikes 12. Unless you’re Cinderella and you gotta go before your carriage turns into a pumpkin, then there's no excuse. Being conscious to recognize midnight is the whole reason there was even a party, man.  So enjoy the countdown to 2020 and raise a glass of bubbly to a Happy New Year.

Christmas in Canada – Fun Trivia that you May Not Know

By Randall Orser | holiday season


  1. A 2018 survey by the Retail Council of Canada discovered that residents of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador spent more per capita (an average of $813 per person) in retail stores.  This is more than any other Provinces.  Ontario and BC came in at number 2 with average spending of $805 and in third place Quebecers spent $458 on average per person.
  2. Vancouver BC claims to be the birthplace of the first Ugly Christmas Sweater Party.”
  3. Winnipeg is often referred to as the "Christmas Capital of Canada" because it is almost always guaranteed to have snow on the ground at Christmas.
  4. Santa has his own postal code in Canada - since 1982 big-hearted Canadian Post Office workers have donated over 200,000 hours of their time answering letters to Santa.  They have also set up a special postal code for Santa as part of a "Santa Letter Writing Program" literary initiative.  The special postal code is H0H 0H0.
  5. The Christmas tree was first introduced to Canada in 1781 by German immigrant Baron Friederick von Riedesel in Sorel, Quebec. 
  6. In Northern Canada a Taffy Pull Party is set up in honour of St. Catherine the patron saint of single women.  The party provides an opportunity for single women to meet available single men.
  7. Did you know that Rudolf was Canadian?  All the character voices in the favourite Christmas Movie, Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer were performed by Canadian actors, singers and voice-over artists at the RCA Victor Studios in Toronto.
  8. Canadians Love Eggnog!  The volume of Commercial sales of eggnog in Canada in December is around 6.7 million litres. 
  9. The Toronto Santa Claus Parade has been held every Christmas since 1905. Almost 1,800 people take part in the parade, and about 500,000 people line the parade route.  It is one of the largest parades in North America.  The T. Eaton company sponsored the first parade.
  10. Every year, the province of Nova Scotia gives a Christmas tree to the US city of Boston. The tree is in appreciation for help given by Boston residents after a ship exploded in Halifax in 1917.
  11. Cookie baking parties are very popular all over Canada around Christmas. Cookies are baked and recipes are exchanged, and each person at the party leaves with a selection of cookies.
  12. Candy, chocolate and snack foods account for around $450 million of sales in Canada in December.
  13. Homes in Labrador City in Newfoundland have a Christmas lights competition every year.   Homeowners also try to outdo each other with huge ice sculptures and light displays in their gardens.
  14. A substantial part of the popular Christmas movie A Christmas Story was filmed in Canada, including Ralphie’s school, the Chinese restaurant, the famous swearing scene and interior segments. 
  15. Canadians love Department Stores and Booze – According to Statistics Canada Canadians prefer to shop in person with department stores being their favourite place to buy.   In second place are beer, liquor and wine stores with an average of $1.6 billion dollars being spent on booze. 
  16. Michael Bublé had a very Merry Christmas in 2011 when his album Christmas was listed as the second biggest selling album of 2011.  It sold 2.45 million copies in the U.S. alone only exceeded by Adele’s 21.  Impressively an album with only a few weeks on the shelf outsold almost all the competition in 2011.
  17. Attending midnight mass is customary among French speaking Canadians, as well as attending feasts on Christmas Eve. A stew made from pigs’ feet is a traditional Christmas meal in parts of Quebec.  
  18. Mummering is a popular tradition during the 12 days of Christmas in parts of Newfoundland.  Children often wearing masks go from door to door, sing and dance, and are given snacks and drinks.
  19. Canadians Love Turkey! In 2017 according to the Turkey Farmers of Canada, Canadians consumed 153.1kg of turkey.  During Christmas that year 3.3 million whole turkeys were purchased which is equal to 47% of all the turkeys sold in 2017.
  20. During the last seven days of December, many of Canada's Inuit celebrate Christ's birth by exchanging gifts every day.
  21. Justin Trudeau was born on Christmas Day.
  22. In the Atlantic Provinces retail shopping is not allowed on Boxing Day, sales start on the 27th of December.
  23. The Federal Accountability Act of 2006 and protocol does not allow the Prime Minister or his family to accept monetary gifts, gift cards or perishable food items. 
  24. In 2016 Canada had 1872 Christmas tree farms concentrated in BC, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick and exported 1.95 million trees to over 20 countries.

Tips for Retailers – How to Increase Your Sales the Week After Christmas

By Randall Orser | Employees , holiday season , Marketing , marketing strategy , Retail , Small Business

The week between Christmas and New Year can be a great opportunity to increase the profitability of your business.  If you do it right, you can net more from this week than any other week in the year.  Here are some tips to help you to have a profitable week.

Creating a Customer Experience – More than likely you will have customers in your store to spend those gift cards that they got for Christmas.  Many will be regulars but many of them will be visiting your store for the first time and you need to WOW them so that they will come back.  Think of little extras that you can offer to enhance their experience.  

Christmas is over, so freshen up your store.  Take down Christmas decorations and promotional signage and change the music.  For those customers who came in before Christmas a change of atmosphere may energize them to buy.

Sales and Incentives – Have your markdowns ready for the 26th of December.  The faster that you move this merchandise the sooner you can freshen up your store.  Some retailers believe in having a January sale instead, but this means that you will not be ordering new stock until February and your store will not have a new look until March.  Stuff bags with coupons to give customers incentives to return.

Full Price Merchandising -  Part of freshening up the store is putting new full priced merchandise out on the floor.  As many people are using gift cards, they might be more likely to buy new full priced items rather than those left over from the holiday season, giving you a greater profit margin.

Reduce your spending on Advertising – As it is after Christmas everyone is having sales. So instead of spending money on advertising use that money to motivate your staff to give exceptional customer service or use it on incentives for your customers.

Refocusing Staff -  The focus has changed from selling stuff, to keeping it sold.  Instead of having staff just concentrate on returns encourage them to focus on converting returns into exchanges and new sales.  Train them on suggestive selling techniques to use when they are processing a return. If you sell a lot of gift cards before Christmas ready your staff to sell prospective new customers.  This is also a good time to update your customer data base and to encourage customers to join your loyalty program.

Show Appreciation to Your Staff – They have just gone through the most hectic four weeks of the year and you are now asking them to do more.  This is a good time to show them that you care, coffee runs, catered lunches or even the services of a masseuse are ways to show your appreciation for their efforts. 

Remember most customers are just coasting until New Year and they don’t expect to find much in stores except sales on leftover Christmas items.  If you have made your target it can be tempting to sit back as well, but this is a great opportunity to create a good impression with customers by giving them new and interesting things to buy. 

How Stores Get You to Spend More Money During the Holiday Season

By Randall Orser | holiday season , Personal Finances , Retail

The Christmas Holidays are the most expensive time of the year for most of us.  After buying gifts for family, friends, clients, Secret Santa exchanges and others, we are left with huge credit card bills or empty bank accounts.  Although this is the season of buying retailers make it even harder on our wallets by employing a number of tricks and techniques to get us to part with even more of our money.

 1.   Deceptive Pricing and Clearance Pricing - Our minds are focused on saving money so if we see an item priced at $19.99 but reads was $39.99, it seems like a great deal and we are more likely to buy it because our brains are wired to feel that we are getting something for nothing.   An identical item priced at $19.99 will not sell as well because it is not seen as a deal.  In 2016 some American stores were sued over the deceptive practice of marking up the price of merchandise just to mark it down again so don’t always believe what you see, there is a good chance that the item is $19.99 all year.

2.   Designing the Store Layout to Maximize Profit - Retailers spend a lot of money researching and planning the best layouts for their stores to encourage you to put the most profitable items in your shopping cart.  Items placed at eye level are most likely to earn the most profit margin for the store as opposed to those on the bottom shelf.

As most people are right-handed and will reach for an item with their right hand so stores will put eye catching displays to the right of the entrance to their store.  These will either be high margin items or items that they want to move quickly.  A good shopping strategy is to veer left when you go into a store and check out the top and bottom shelves where you might find better deals.

3.   Ending Almost Every Price with a 9 - This is a psychological trick that most of us fall for.  $199.99 is a lot more attractive price than $200 even though there is only a cent difference.  People focus on the first digit in the price, 1 being less than 2.  Once the price jumps to $200 it is seen as being between $200 and $300 even though again it is only a cent difference.  We need to train ourselves to see $199.99 as over $200 as that is what it will be once taxes are added.  

4.   Helping Customers get into the Mood to Spend - You may already have Christmas overload with all the smells, sights and sounds that get you into the festive spirit.  Retailers want to make sure that you stay in the mood to give gifts and set up their stores with bright red and green, cheerful colours and lights, holiday music and even offer mulled wine.   When restaurants are busy, they want you to leave quickly, so one trick is to switch up the festive music for something more aggressive and increase the volume.  Tip – ignore the sensory overload, make a list and keep to it, get in and get out!

5.   Specially Packaged Gift Sets and Bundles can Cost More - Stores love to put together gift packs and sets which makes it easier for shoppers.  Beware! you are not always getting the best value for your money.  The cost of these bundles can be greater than buying the items individually, so make sure you are getting a deal before buying a gift set.

6.   Placing Lower-Priced items Next to Expensive Items – this will get you to compare items that appear similar but are different.  By putting a less expensive item next to an expensive one it looks like a steal, but the store could actually be charging more than their competitors.

7.   Offering Double-up Deals that You Don’t Need but Find Hard to Resist – “Buy One Get One Free” is something that is difficult to resist but sometimes taking that deal is false economy.  You may think that you are getting something for nothing, but you need to be aware of the price of the item in other stores.  You may not have to take the deal to get a good price on the item that you originally wanted.

8.   Providing Easy Credit Options -  Retailers know that customers cannot always pay for big ticket items so they offer you credit so that you can spread the payment over time without interest, but you can be sure that their profit margin is built into this.  Customers need to be sure that they are able to pay within the interest free period because the debt will eventually become due and all the interest accrued will be added.

9.   Making Clearance Items Harder to Find – Most stores have an aisle or “end cap” for their sale and clearance items.  In December these clearance items become harder to find meaning that customers have to search for them.  Retailers know that in the frantic rush to get gifts most people will be willing to pay full price.

10.  Offering Customer Incentives – Many stores offer free gifts with purchase you will see many of these at the cosmetic counter.  If you spend a certain amount of money you will get a free gift which encourages those who would not normally buy to put their money down.  Other incentives include coupons and discounts.

Despite using these techniques to encourage you to part ways with your money, stores are not trying to be dishonest.   They are just trying to get you to spend more, thereby increasing sales and keeping their staff employed.   Just be aware of these tricks and you will be able to do your holiday shopping without spending too much.

Tips to Avoid Holiday Spending Mistakes

By Randall Orser | Budget , holiday season , Personal Finances

It is very difficult not to overspend when buying Christmas gifts, we all do it!  This year Canadians will spend an average of about $1593.00 up slightly from $1563 in 2018.   Although 41% of this is spent while shopping on-line, the remainder 59% is spent in brick and mortar stores.  As overspending at Christmas can adversely affect our finances going into the New Year it is important to make and stick to a budget when buying gifts.  Here are five ways you can save money on Christmas Gifts.

1.   Make a Holiday Budget and Stick to it

  • Allocate money out of your monthly budget to a gift fund
  • Make it a creative challenge to give carefully thought out gifts which have more meaning than expensive ones, think about giving something home-made.
  • Consider expectations set by family and social situations when making up your budget.  Your family might decide to only give gifts to the children but if not ask them to consider a lower spending limit especially if you have a large family.
  • Start shopping early, shop sales and purchase items throughout the year, this will make holiday gift buying less stressful.
  • Don’t forget to include travel, Christmas Cards, Wrapping, Decorations in your budget.

2.  Don’t Use Credit – if you charge everything to your credit card you will be paying for Christmas well into the New Year or even for years afterwards.  When people are shopping at Christmas, they tend to use their credit card instead of cash.  Use your debit card instead of your credit card, if you have planned carefully all year you will have the extra money in your bank account to do just that.

3. Plan Your Christmas List Well in Advance - This will help you to buy gifts throughout the year at sales such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday and if you are really organized even Boxing Day.  Make sure you keep a list of who you have bought gifts for to make sure that you do not buy for a person more than once or miss anyone out. 

  • Keep a running list of things to buy and watch out for the best price.
  • Planning ahead takes the worry out of finding the perfect gift and the last-minute gift buying panic.

4. Don’t forget to shop around – To save money take time to comparison shop. You should check prices on-line at two or three stores before you go shopping to make sure that you are getting the best price.

5.   Don’t leave gift buying to the last minute – Panic buying will more than likely mean that you will spend more as your choices will be more limited.   Plan to get all your shopping done before the holiday season begins.

6.    Buy one or two Extra Gifts – You may be invited to last minute parties and need to take a gift which can throw off your budget.  Buy a couple of generic gifts during the year so that you have them on hand if you need them.  A bottle of wine is always a good choice to take to a Christmas get together.  

  • Think about buying gifts that you would enjoy in case you do not use it.
  • Remember you can always return unused gifts.

7.   Encourage Christmas Gift Exchanges – Secret Santa gifts or draws are a great way to save money.  

  • You will only have to shop for one person instead of many which works very well in a work or large family situation.  
  • You may also be able to purchase a nicer gift for the one person than you would buy for several people. 
  • People love Secret Santa as it makes their shopping simpler.

8.   Give a Christmas Gift to Someone in Need - Instead of giving gifts to family and friends who do not really need anything, consider donating to a charity in their name.  You can also purchase an extra gift while out shopping and drop it off right away.  Doing good by giving gifts to those in need instead of family members will help to get you into the holiday spirit and it can also save you money.  

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