Start early on Holiday Shopping to find deals, items in stock

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By LATINA EMERSON, Deal Finder

Holiday shopping is anticipated to be different this year, so consumers should start shopping early to find desired items in stock and at reasonable prices. 

Our 2021 holiday shopping experience is being complicated by a variety of issues, including supply chain problems, lack of inventory, labor shortages and higher prices for shipping and manufacturing, according to a report by Salesforce

These issues could affect the availability and prices of holiday food and gift items, particularly toys. Also, there might be fewer sales this year and sales will start earlier, according to CNBC. Shoppers who wait until the last minute might end up paying higher prices or be unable to find the items they want. 

Still, shoppers must be smart about their holiday shopping to avoid overspending and racking up debt, especially since layaway doesn’t appear to be an option this year. Here are some ways to stretch your dollars this holiday shopping season:

Plan holiday menus

Many treasured holiday memories are made while sharing a delicious meal. Thanksgiving and other holiday meals aren’t the same without certain staples such as turkey, cranberry sauce or sweet potato pie, so plan your holiday menus now and start stocking up on essential meal items. Canned goods and other nonperishable foods can be stored in the pantry, and turkeys or other meats can remain frozen until it’s time to cook the holiday meal. 

Make a shopping list in advance to ensure that you’re buying all of the necessary ingredients and to stay on track with your spending at the grocery store. Knowing the items that you want to purchase is helpful when searching for coupons and deals in weekly sales ads.

Use coupons

Coupons can help to save money on many items, including food, beverages, cleaning and household items, and beauty and personal care items. Several grocery stores, such as Kroger and Publix, offer digital coupons on their websites. 

Kroger has started offering digital coupons that can be used up to five times in one transaction. To take advantage of these savings, customers should log into their Kroger.com account and clip these and other coupons. All digital coupons are loaded onto the customer’s Kroger Shopper’s Card, which is scanned at checkout.

To save at Publix, shoppers can create a Club Publix account at Publix.com. Then, they can clip a variety of coupons to add to their account. Shoppers will enter their 10-digit phone number at checkout to receive the savings. Publix also accepts manufacturer and competitor coupons. For more information about Publix’s coupon policy, visit https://www.publix.com/pages/policies/coupon-policy.

Publix also offers BOGOs, or weekly buy-one-get-one-free offers. The grocery store features at least 30 deals every week, according to its website.

Major retailers such as Target, drug stores including Rite Aid and Walgreens, and discount stores such as Dollar General and Family Dollar also offer digital coupons on their websites. In addition, shoppers can clip printed coupons from sales ads found in newspapers.

To maximize savings, shoppers should find out the coupon policies at stores where they shop frequently, such as whether the retailer offers store coupons, allows double or triple coupon values or accepts manufacturer’s, competitors’ and Internet coupons.

Purchase store brands

Most grocery stores offer a wide variety of store brands, which are often cheaper than similar brand name items and have a comparable taste.

Get a rain check

If a store runs out of a featured sale item, shoppers can request a rain check for this item at the customer service desk. This allows customers to purchase the item at the advertised sale price at a later time. Rain checks often have an expiration date, so don’t forget to take advantage of these savings before the deadline.

At Publix, if an item is out of stock, the store can issue a rain check good for 30 days for up to eight units of the item at the sale price. Shoppers should visit the customer service counter to request a rain check.

Shop at discount stores

ALDI, a discount grocery store that is one of America’s fastest growing retailers, reports that its low prices are hard to beat. More than 90 percent of store items are ALDI-exclusive products. For nine years, ALDI has been named Value Leader among U.S. grocery stores by Market Force Information.

Shoppers can also find deals on clothes, shoes, handbags, home décor and more at off-price department stores such as Marshalls and T.J. Maxx.

Watch out for sales and promo codes

To find deals and compare prices, shoppers need to review weekly sales ads for grocery and department stores. 

If customers sign up to receive emails from their favorite retailers, they can initially get a percentage off their purchase and receive discount promo codes in the future. Promo codes are also often found on retailers’ websites. 

From Oct. 22 to 24, Lowe’s will offer a new 10 percent discount coupon for eligible first responders in Lowe’s stores nationwide and on Lowes.com. Lowe’s is showing recognition and appreciation for the service of first responders. Firefighters, emergency medical technicians/paramedics, police officers, 911 dispatchers, nurses and physicians nationwide can register for the coupon by visiting https://www.lowes.com/firstresponders through Oct. 24. First responders who register will receive an email with their redeemable discount for a single purchase on eligible items. For more information, visit https://corporate.lowes.com/newsroom/press-releases/lowes-thanks-first-responders-first-ever-10-percent-discount-ahead-national-first-responders-day-09-29-21.

Ask for a price match

Some retail stores, such as Target, will match prices on certain items. Starting Oct. 10, if customers purchase an item in store or online and the price goes lower at Target on or before Dec. 24, they can request a price match. Proof of purchase is required. 

Target will match the price if a customer buys a qualifying item at Target and then finds the identical item for less at Target.com, select online competitors, or in Target’s or competitor’s local print ads. Price matches can be requested at time of purchase or within 14 days after purchase. If customers find a lower price within 14 days after purchase, they should bring in the proof to receive the price adjustment. Target store price matches and adjustments can be completed on any lane of the store. For Target.com purchases, shoppers should call Target.com Guest Services at 1-800-591-3869.

For more information, visit https://help.target.com/help/subcategoryarticle?childcat=Price+Match+Guarantee&parentcat=Policies+%26+Guidelines&searchQuery=search+help.

Join rewards and loyalty programs

Many retailers, including JC Penney and Kohl’s, have rewards programs. At JC Penney, shoppers who sign up for JC Penney Rewards will receive exclusive benefits, such as $10 rewards for points earned, birthday gifts and special offers such as coupon books. 

At Kohl’s, customers will receive exclusive benefits if they sign up for a Kohls.com account. The retailer also offers Kohl’s cash, in which customers earn $10 Kohl’s cash for every $50 spent. Shoppers will receive the Kohl’s cash as a coupon when they shop in store or via email when they shop at Kohls.com. Kohl’s cash must be redeemed by the date on the coupon. 

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