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What’s Your Holiday Strategy: Commando Shopping or Reconnaissance at the Digital Mall

:What's Your Holiday Strategy: Commando Shopping or Reconnaissance at the Digital Mall"It’s zero-three-hundred hours. Stifling a yawn, you run down the checklist one more time. Steel-toed protective footgear. Check. GPS coordinates locked and loaded. Check. Digital procurement list. Check. As you key up the mic on the walkie-talkie to tell the troops to load up, the absurdity of the situation hits you. When did Christmas shopping morph into a survival-of-the-fittest event? Isn’t the holiday about sharing, spreading good cheer and thousands of twinkling colored lights?

John Tozzi (Bloomberg Business Week) reported last year that although marketers attempted to cajole early shoppers into stores immediately after Thanksgiving for more than 40 years, it has been less than a decade since Black Friday overtook the last Saturday before Christmas as the busiest shopping day of the year. It’s been a constant battle for brick-and-mortar stores to hold their ground since Cyber Monday launched in 2005.

You know you want to capture the best-available deal, but you might be wondering which experience is best for you. Compare the ins and outs of staying home on Cyber Monday and braving the “deep-discount battlefield” known as Black Friday below.

Touch it or Touch to Order

Nearly 60 percent of shoppers during the 2012 four-day shopping-frenzied weekend bought clothes and accessories. If you are looking for that perfect blue jacket, or you want to judge for yourself how “luxurious” that silk blouse really feels, you will probably be more satisfied with heading to the nearest clothier or outlet shop.

While online retailers can’t guarantee you’ll get a perfect color match, some companies are making great strides in getting you a better fit. GUESS’s TrueFit technology helps you select styles and sizes based on personal preferences and data. Just answer a few questions. Wait while the system reviews your answers, previous customer experiences and manufacturer details. Then, review the suggestions tailored for you.

TrueFit is available at many other online and neighborhood department stores.

Let’s Make a Deal

There are some advantages that might entice you to battle the crowds and skip a few hours of sleep. Department and clothing stores, like JCPenney, offer additional sales and discounts for shoppers who visit local stores. Wherever you shop, look for coupons at checkout and listen to overhead announcements for hourly specials that change throughout the day. You can also register in person and online for texts and alerts about Black Friday and Cyber Monday specials at your favorite retailers.

To make sure you get the best deals, download the dealnews.com app before you leave home. Dealnews claims they list the best-available prices for thousands of items from reputable online retailers. You can quickly check to see if the in-store price beats the online price before you head to the register to check out. If you download the free Barcode Scanner app from Google’s Play Store, you can scan the barcode to read consumer reviews before buying big-ticket items.

Get Shipping Fast and Free

Along with conveniences like avoiding crowds and shopping in your pajamas on Cyber Monday, this year you can save more money on shipping. Many online companies offer free shipping with a minimum order, and most offer free returns. But if you order gifts through ShopRunner.com affiliates, you get free express two-day shipping with no minimum order. This year, ShopRunner is offering a free no-obligation 30-day trial for home and mobile shoppers.

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