I walked through the Halloween markdown section at a big-box store in Nampa this past week, and when I turned a corner in the store, I entered the Christmas display.
Shoppers will only have 26 days of shopping between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, according to the National Retail Federation, a shorter than normal shopping season. And, so they are predicting online sales to increase by 15 percent.
By taking advantage of the Internet, stores hope to extend the holiday season, and lessen the impact of “Black Friday,” the day after Thanksgiving when many retailers see sales increases and move their profits from the red to the black.
Online shopping is an easy way to buy things. The same large selection as found in stores is available on most sites. When shopping online, know the business where your buying from and to protect personal information.
Here are online shopping tips:
- Know the Website. Before ordering any merchandise, check the URL link to make sure it starts with “https://.” Also look for a small padlock icon usually at the corner of the URL bar. Check that the address and phone number of the online business if there are any issues contacting them. If you see https, the session between the web server and the browser on the mobile device you are using is encrypted.
- Read and Compare. When buying a product, read the description including the fine print. It is important to understand the details of what you bought so there are no surprises. Check competitor prices using online comparison resources and offer coupon codes.
- Check the Return Policy. Read the return policy to see if the business allows a full refund if the customer is not happy with the product. Review the policy to see who pays for the cost of shipping and handling for the return.
- Choose the Correct Payment Method. Always pay with a credit card when shopping online. A purchase with a credit card is protected under the Fair Credit Billing Act. This allows customers to briefly hold payment while a problem is reviewed and resolved. This act also protects customers in the event that credit card information is stolen and used without permission. Make sure to print the receipts and product information of any online purchases to prevent incorrect charges.
- In the Event of Online Fraud. If there is a problem with a purchase or business, complaints can be filed with the Better Business Bureau to help resolve the issue. The Federal Trade Commission also handles complaints at www.ftc.gov/complaint.
Bottom line: Cut these tips out and save them as the holiday shopping season has already begun.