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Consumer
Find the real best deal this holiday season
McLEAN, Va. (11/9/11)--Consumers hungry for some holiday shopping will have no problem finding bargains this year. Add a coupon to a rock-bottom price and get an even better deal. Web searches using coupon-related terms were up 119% at the end of October compared with the same time last year (USAToday.com Nov. 2).

And despite economic uncertainty, Americans are spending--consumer spending rose 0.6% last month--and saving at the lowest level since the start of the Great Recession, according to the Commerce Department (USAToday.com Oct. 28).

With retailers touting more than 10,000 deals online daily, it's hard to know if you're getting the best deal. Here's how to comparison shop wisely:

  • Ask for a price match. Many large retailers will offer to match the price of other retailers. You'll generally need to show proof of the other store's price, so carry the ad circular with you or bookmark the ad on your smartphone and have it available to show a clerk.
  • Use online coupon codes. Try RetailMeNot to search for codes that haven't expired.
  • Check several stores or websites before making a final decision. Check sites PriceGrabber and Shopzilla--you'll get a more realistic range of prices on products than the multiple items you'll get just conducting a Google Product Search. Be aware, though, that these sites typically offer prices only for retailers with whom they have contracts. Consumersearch.com combs all the review sites and summarizes the legit ones.
  • Use sites that aggregate all available deals. For example, computers and staff members for sites like bradsdeals and dealnews choose reputable retailers and best prices on popular products.
  • Don't buy something just because it's a good price. Some retailers offer deals on low-quality merchandise and unknown brands. Make sure you're getting a quality item before you fall for a "good" deal. Consumerreports.org can help you find the most for your money.
  • Be wary of model numbers. One large retailer in particular has been known to use its own model numbers for the same brand TVs sold at other stores. You won't be able to find a better price when you try to comparison shop because this retailer is the only one with the unique model number.
 

For more advice about how to get the best deal when shopping, read "Shop by the Rules With Coupons" in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.


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