How to be a world class last-minute shopper

Did you miss out on Black Friday? Eh, probably for the best.

What about Cyber Monday? Yeah, it’s a lot of great deals on stuff you didn’t really want. Better to skip that one, too.

So now what? If you’ve still got presents to buy you’re far from out of luck. Sales will continue to appear and disappear from now until the end of the year. That’s why it’s okay to be a last minute shopper. In fact, it’s even possible to be a last minute shopper and still get great deals on everything you buy. You just need to follow these three rules:

Be Flexible

For retailers, the key to these massive Black Friday/Cyber Monday type deals has always been this – to get you to buy things you never meant to buy.

When we hear about these huge blowout sales we immediately picture all the cool, very-specific things we want to buy. Then we get to the store (or the website). Maybe they have what we wanted. And maybe it’s on sale. But what’s definitely on sale is a whole mess of things we never considered buying before we got there.

Retailers use your expectations (and imagination) to work you into spending mode, then present you with cheap (potentially unnecessary) items to buy. If you don’t walk away with what you really wanted, that’s bad for you and good for the retailer.

But what if there wasn’t anything in particular you wanted?

By remaining flexible and open-minded, you can maximize the potential of all those late season deals without overspending or being disappointed.

Follow the Trends tracked December bargains over a period of 8 years and found a few useful trends for any last minute shoppers.

  • Two weeks from Christmas you’ll start to see some great deals on HDTVs pop up.
  • Ten days from Christmas laptops, video game systems, and toys very often go back on sale in order to hit year-end sales projections and avoid missing what’s considered the cutoff date from many of these items.
  • One week from Christmas is a great time to take another look at clothing, shoes, and kitchen appliances as these items often go back on sale one last time before the holiday.

Just because these sales have occurred historically doesn’t mean they will again this year, but if you’re waiting until the last minute it’s a good idea to keep your eyes open around these days as a lot of good stuff should be going on sale.

Don’t Panic

Remember, the best thing you can do for a retailer is buy something you don’t need/want/like because you couldn’t get the thing you actually wanted.

As the season winds down pressure starts to build on last-minute shoppers. You may feel inclined to just buy something for the sake of buying something. Resist the urge to make panicky purchases.

As noted above, good deals will keep appearing right up until the very end. So stay patient, don’t panic, and keep on the lookout for the perfect deal on the perfect gift.

Being a last-minute shopper doesn’t mean you have to pay full price for a happy holiday season. As long as you’re vigilant and you keep your head on straight, you can score all the frugal buys with half the headaches. Good luck!

Jesse Campbell is the Content Manager at MMI, focused on creating and delivering valuable educational materials that help families through everyday and extraordinary financial challenges.

  • The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is an association of nonprofit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education. Today, nearly 300 of these groups participate in the federation and govern it through their representatives on the organization's Board of Directors.

  • Since 2007, the Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF) has served as a trusted, neutral source of information for more than eight million homeowners. They are partnered with, and endorsed by, numerous major government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of the Treasury.

  • The mission of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD works to strengthen the housing market in order to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes; utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; and build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination.

  • The Council on Accreditation (COA) is an international, independent, nonprofit, human service accrediting organization. Their mission is to partner with human service organizations worldwide to improve service delivery outcomes by developing, applying, and promoting accreditation standards.

  • The National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®), founded in 1951, is the nation’s largest and longest-serving nonprofit financial counseling organization. The NFCC’s mission is to promote the national agenda for financially responsible behavior, and build capacity for its members to deliver the highest-quality financial education and counseling services.