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Will Holiday Shopping Promotions Really Save You Money?

By Paula Ebben, WBZ-TV
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Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

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BOSTON (CBS) – A week from now the Thanksgiving leftovers will be put away, and the credit cards will be getting ready to come out. The holiday shopping season will be upon us.

The signs for the promotions and markdowns are already prominent at the malls. It seems everyone has a ploy to get your money, by saving you money.

Shoppers like Rachel Blaisdell of Pembroke are looking for bargains this year. She said prices are very important to her as she shops for presents for her two young children.

WBZ-TV’s Paula Ebben reports

Major chains like Staples and Walmart are offering price back guarantees this year. They will match anyone’s price if you go back with a proof you could have purchased it for less elsewhere.

But it is important to check the details on each store’s program. Walmart, for example, will give you the difference back as a gift card.

Ken Perkins of Retailmetrics in Swampscott said these programs can save you money. It is important, however, to be aware of the retailer’s strategy. For example, a Walmart gift card is designed to get you shopping a second time and spending more than the value of the card.

READ: Holiday Shopping Guide

There is also the chance a shopper will never follow up. “A lot of gift cards never get redeemed and that cash goes right into the retailers pocket at no cost whatsoever to them,” explained Perkins.

Shoppers are definitely enticed by the idea of saving money this year. A survey found 78% are now driven by sales. That number was just 68% three years ago, at the height of the recession.

Retailers are luring shoppers with promotions which promise a set discount, but only after a larger amount of merchandise is purchased. For example, you might receive $25 off after spending $100.

The idea is to get shoppers to spend more than they would have in effort to reach that threshold. “If you can get a consumer to spend more because you are offering a discount on a certain dollar amount, then by all means you would like to do that,” said Perkins.

Black Friday deals are also a draw, and there are expected to be some good ones this year. “You are going to see equally good deals as last year, maybe even better,” said Perkins.

Some shoppers said they like to get their shopping done early so they can focus on other aspects of the holidays.

It’s always a tough call, however, whether it is better to get it done early or try and wait for some very deep discounts.

Waiting could come with some risks, because although shelves will be stocked, they won’t be overflowing. “By all accounts,” said Perkins, “Inventory levels are very conservative this year to avoid the massive markdowns that we saw in 2008.”

Finally, check clothing closely. Manufacturers have been cutting corners and the quality of material and detailing might not be what you are accustomed to. Of particular concern are store brands.

Perkins added, “You really want to look carefully at what you’re buying. Take a close look at the merchandise, maybe stick to more branded names if you’re concerned about those quality levels.”

Experts say to take advantage of social media. You can follow your favorite stores on Facebook and Twitter and get alerts about promotions and coupons.

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