Shop like a pro – without leaving your couch

Shop like a pro – without leaving your couch
National Bank Living, Personal Living, Personal

There’s something alluring about the idea of tackling the entirety of your Christmas list from the comfort of your couch. You can skip the crowds, skip the hassle and skip the pants.

Canadians are becoming increasingly enamored with the perks of online holiday shopping, with rates rising every year, according to a 2016 study from FedEx.

Last year, as many as 61 per cent of Canadians said they planned on buying at least one Christmas gift online. These numbers are even higher for shoppers in their 30s.

Electronics, toys, books and sporting goods are among the most popular gifts people buy online, according to a 2016 Visa consumer study. This is thanks in part to the savings that come with buying these items on the internet, and the ease of having them shipped straight to your door.

Electronics and appliances can often be bought online for 5 per cent less the price in-store. And deals on Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend are often too good to pass up.

Last year, game consoles, TVs, iPhones and tablets were among the top online sellers, according to Adobe Digital Insights. Top sellers in toys included LEGO, Nerf, Shopkins, and that game where you smacked your grandpa in the face with a cream pie.

Not to be overlooked are gift cards, which consistently rank as one of the most-requested and most-gifted presents during the holidays. Gift cards can actually be bought at a discount from sites like Giftcardgranny.com, says Michelle Madhok, a New York City-based online shopping expert and founder of deals site shefinds.com. Madhok says these cards can come with savings of 10 per cent, and even come with consumer protection.

But shopping online is not without its headaches. Researching gift ideas can be daunting, shipping times can be long, and currency conversions can boot an otherwise reasonably priced gift from the cart.

To keep yourself from getting overwhelmed from the get-go, Madhok suggests signing up for your favourite retailers’ e-newsletters to get notifications of their sales. If you’re on the fence about what to get someone, a sale might help seal the deal.

Further savings can be found by taking advantage of websites like Ebates.com, which allow shoppers to earn up to 20 per cent cash back on online purchases, on top of retailer discounts. To snag promotional codes, try RetailMeNot.com, says Madhok. Or install the browser extension “Honey” to automatically find and apply coupon codes when you shop online. And while many retailers offer free shipping with no minimum purchase during the holiday season, this doesn’t always apply to Canadian shoppers, so do some research before filling your cart.

Consider also signing up for Amazon Prime, or simply shopping from local or national brands to keep your shipping costs down (and delivery time short).

Taking time to read reviews of products before clicking “add to cart” might save you the headache of trying to return an online purchase, according to Sandra Phillips, a Montreal-based shopping expert and founder of the website smartshoppingmontreal.com.

While you’re at it, research that vendor’s return policies, adds Phillips, especially if you are making a purchase more than 30 days before Christmas, which may exceed an item’s window for free returns or exchanges. And to make sure the item you’re buying your aunt Carol gets under her tree by Christmas morning, retailers such as Indigo and Hallmark are advising Canadian shoppers to place orders by Dec. 14 or 15.

Vendors will have different cut-off dates, but many large retailers, including Amazon, will have their shipping cut-off dates posted to their website.

So, there you have it, the best advice and excuse to skip the malls, plug in your laptop or tablet, put your feet up, and get Christmas shopping – from your couch.

This article was written by Kristen Thompson from The Toronto Star and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to [email protected].

Edited on 6 December 2017

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