Stick to a list when buying holiday gifts,

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Friday, Nov. 24, will be the start of an important 31 days for retailers - the holiday shopping season for 2006. Spending on gifts in expected to increase 5 percent this year from 2005 - a healthy upswing for retailers, according to Dr. Dee Knight, University of North Texas assistant professor of merchandising.

Knight says the Friday after Thanksgiving is known as "Black Friday" because it is the date "when retailers begin to operate from a profitable, or ‘in the black' position rather than an unprofitable, or ‘in the red' position."

"However, it is not the biggest sales day of the holiday season; that honor typically belongs to the Saturday before Christmas. This year Christmas is on Monday, so Saturday, Dec. 23, will probably be the biggest shopping day in terms of sales," she says.

Knight notes that many people do begin serious gift buying for the holiday the day after Thanksgiving, and they are usually rewarded with deep discounts by some major retailers. But she adds that with the bustle of the shops and, often, the entertaining of friends and family members who are visiting for Thanksgiving weekend with a trip to a mall, "it is easy to get caught up in the spirit of the holiday season and lose sight of your budget."

Knight gives these tips for staying on a budget this year:

  • Determine the total amount that you will spend on gifts for the season.
  • Make a list of the people to whom you plan to give a gift and the amount you will spend on each person.
  • If possible, have a general idea of a gift in mind for each person.
  • Make a list of the stores you will visit.
  • Ask a salesperson for assistance to save time.
  • Check off each name on the list. "It brings a great deal of satisfaction!" Knight says.

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