The National Retail Federation’s top 10 tips for smart holiday shopping

1. Shop after 6 p.m. before a sale is advertised to begin. Many retailers program the registers the night before, so the sale may already come up in the register even if they have not changed out signs on the selling floor yet. Ask the associate in advance for any possible upcoming sales, especially on big ticket items.

2. Prepare a list to use while you are shopping. Make sure to include alternative selections in case you are unable to find some of the items on your list.

3. Avoid crowds by shopping during stores’ early and extended hours.

4. If you are looking for specific advertised items, take the complete advertisement with you so that you don’t end up in the wrong store looking for a specific price.

5. Staple a gift receipt to the merchandise tag in case it needs to be returned or exchanged. Keep your original receipts with any warranty paperwork for the life of the warranty.

6. Remember, when gift shopping you are buying for someone else’s wants and needs, not your own. But it’s OK to treat yourself.

7. Shop safely. Watch your personal belongings at all times including handbags and purchases. The stores are not responsible for any lost items, so be careful, especially at the register when the transaction itself can easily distract you.

8. Save yourself the headache; let the charity group at the mall wrap your gifts for you. This will save you a lot of time and free you to do other things on your holiday to-do lists.

9. When shopping online, have your credit cards and address book handy. Many Web sites have timed windows to complete a transaction, so you need to have shipping information at your fingertips.

10. When walking through the mall or down Main Street, wear comfortable shoes. You’ll be walking on a lot of marble, concrete and tile.

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