Shopping smarter during COVID-era holiday season
According to the most recent poll from the Roanoke College Institute for Policy and Opinion Research, 62 percent of Virginians say they will spend at least the same amount or more this holiday season compared to last year.
More than half also indicated they do not plan to set a holiday budget.
While consumers’ optimistic outlook may be contributing to their willingness to spend during the holiday season, Atlantic Union Bank’s Consumer Banking Group Executive Shawn O’Brien recommends shoppers spend smart during a season when it can be easy to overspend.
“This year has been a challenging year for everyone, and while consumers are willing to spend, they should also be diligent about adhering to a budget. There are easy ways to stay on track such as being an educated consumer and taking advantage of savings when and where you can,” said O’Brien, who offers these tips to spend smarter this holiday season:
- Take the extra step to be a smart consumer. With more people shopping online, simply take the time to read reviews and research to ensure you find the best price. Many retailers offer price-match policies if you find a better deal. There are a number of price comparison apps available to further simplify this process. Additionally, beware of deals that look too good to be true. Take the extra step to investigate the retailer’s site before proceeding with your transaction.
- Avoid Last-Minute Shopping. Waiting until the last minute and buying all your gifts in a rush often leads to overspending. It also leads to impulse buying or the “shopping momentum effect,” an event where researchers say we are more likely to keep spending once we have started. Set a deadline for yourself to avoid the expense and stress of waiting to the last minute.
- Rewards and Offers. Two-thirds of Virginians plan on using cash for holiday purchases, with the goal of incurring no additional debt. However, 22 percent anticipate paying with credit cards only, an increase from last year. For those who are planning to use credit cards, be sure to establish a proactive plan to pay off your balance shortly after the holidays. Take advantage of any cash back or rewards programs that your credit card company is offering.
- Make a List, Check it Twice. And stick to it. Plan ahead before diving into shopping by making an organized list of who you are shopping for, what you would like to get and how much you plan to send for each person. Also remember holiday spending extends beyond gift giving and includes special meals, entertainment, decorations, etc. Ensure you are keeping your overall budget in mind as you plan all your activities for the season.