Photo by Hubble Ray Smith.
’Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a … wait a minute, we forgot to get a present for Aunt Millie and Uncle Willie.
So it’s out the door we dash, on our merry way to spending a little more cash.
Last-minute Christmas shopping started with what some retail analysts call “Panic Thursday” and will continue into the weekend, including the Saturday before Christmas, which is second only to Black Friday in total retail sales revenue.
More than three-fourths of shoppers plan to make their purchases right up until Christmas, according to a survey by the International Council of Shopping Centers.
That was evident at JC Penney in Kingman, where some 25 people were lined up at the cash register Thursday afternoon.
“I’ve still got a few things, not too much, just some odds and ends,” Cheryl Ewing said at the store. “I won’t be shopping here right now because the lines are so long.”
Ewing figures most last-minute shoppers are husbands, although everyone’s out looking for stocking stuffers.
“We’re in denial that we’re not going to spend that much,” she said. “Toward the end, we start thinking about people and we start feeling guilty and that’s when you overspend.”
She’s hoping to stay within her $500 Christmas budget.
Overall, consumers are expected to spend $608 on gifts this season, down from $621 in 2016, the National Retail Federation reports. However, overall spending for the holidays will increase by 3 percent, from $936 to $967.
As for last-minute gift ideas, wine and cheese baskets and Christmas-themed decorations are always an option, but you’re not going to have the luxury of a large selection and decision-making time.
Some of the best last-minute deals at JC Penney include 60 percent off everything in the store, $7.99 for kids’ sleep separates, $9.99 for a 1.5-quart slow cooker, $19.99 for women’s boots, $17.99 for a men’s St. John’s Bay puffer vest and $25 for 1/10 carat diamond studs or pendants.
Here are 10 last-minute shopping tips from WalletNerd.com:
- Buy a gift card (on sale). It’s like going to the bank and exchanging $85 for a $100 bill. Gift cards are the most requested gift item each year and you can buy what you want, when you want it.
- Search online for promo codes. Promotional codes – also called coupon codes – help you save money shopping online. Look up your favorite stores online and check for “promo codes.”
- Use social media. Some retailers offer exclusive savings to people who follow them on Twitter or “like” them on Facebook. You can always “unfollow” them later.
- Turn credit card points into gifts. It’s fun to watch your credit card points build up, but most folks aren’t sure what to do with them. Use them for gift cards or to subsidize holiday shopping trips.
- Pay attention to register coupons. Those “extra” pieces of paper that print off with your receipt often contain valuable coupons that you can use during a future shopping trip.
- Stay organized with a list. When presents are wrapped or stowed away, you might forget what you’ve already bought.
- Know before you go. Don’t waste your time wandering around stores with no idea what you’re looking for. Think before you shop, and go straight to those items once in you’re in the store.
- Think outside the box. If your kids have more toys than they can play with, go for a movie pass or amusement park ticket. It’ll give them something to look forward to after Christmas.
- Set a budget. Choose a specific amount of money you’ll spend on each gift recipient before you go shopping – and stick to it.
- Make it about others. It can be tempting to grab a few last-minute gifts for yourself. Come back in January and see if you still want those items.