CLEVELAND - Grab your shopping bags and compile your lists, the biggest holiday shopping days are almost here! With Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday all crammed into one long weekend, Better Business Bureau wants to help make your shopping adventure go as smoothly as possible. Here are some tips:
Create a budget and stick to it
According to the National Retail Federation, the average holiday shopper will spend $749.51 on gifts, decor, greeting cards and other seasonal items, up slightly from the $740.57 they spent last year. How can you keep from overspending? BBB has once again teamed up with Clearpoint Credit Solutions to offer the Holiday Planner Calculator. This easy-to-use online tool will help you create a budget that is realistic for the way you celebrate, entertain, travel and give gifts this holiday season.
Don't fall for the too-good-to-be-true deal
On "Black Friday" (and every day), get to know retailers first by checking out their BBB Business Reviews at http://www.bbb.org. Compare prices before you hit the stores on Black Friday so you know if you really are getting a great deal. Newspapers will often have coupons that give discounts for Black Friday. When searching for coupons online, make sure to get them from the store's website, not from an offsite deal promoter.
Shop small on Small Business Saturday
Nov. 24 is Small Business Saturday, a day dedicated to supporting small businesses on the busiest shopping weekend of the year. BBB is teaming up with American Express, a BBB Accredited Business and National Partner, to spread the word on why small businesses are so awesome.
Watch out for scams
The new BBB Scam stopper website can tell you all about the latest scams, and help you learn the most common tactics used by scam artists both in-person and online. Be especially careful of holiday related scams. Be sure that letter from Santa is from a legitimate site before you share your child's personal information. And that friend or grandchild who was mugged while traveling and needs some cash wired ASAP? That's a scam. Don't fall for it!
Shop safely online
Nov. 26 is "Cyber Monday," and there will be lots of online deals to be had. Before you surf the net, make sure your computer has the most recent updates for spam filters, anti-virus and anti-spyware software. Scammers use this holiday time to prey on online shoppers. Only shop on trusted websites, and look for the Ad Choices logo for sites that give you more control over whether advertisers can use your information for targeted advertising. It's also best to use a credit card when shopping online because you can dispute the charges if you don't receive the item you ordered.
Know your rights
Whether shopping retail or online, know your legal rights. U.S. law requires that orders made by mail, phone or online be shipped by the date promised or, if no delivery time was stated, within 30 days. If the goods aren't shipped on time, the shopper can cancel and demand a refund. Consumers also have the right to reject merchandise if it's defective or was misrepresented. Otherwise, it's the company's policies that determine if the shopper can cancel the purchase and receive a refund or credit, so be sure you understand return policies before you buy. Keep track of all receipts and documentation, too.
For more advice on safe shopping this holiday season, visit http://www.cleveland.bbb.org