From the Office of State Senator Kevin Witkos
Black Friday is perhaps the most legendary shopping day of the year and the official start to the holiday shopping season. Every year, the Friday after Thanksgiving is transformed into a competitive day of shopping to find the best deals on many of the things that we want to give away in December. Many stores offer great deals, but more and more we hear stories of customer impatience prevailing over civility. While the holiday season can be hectic in the rush to purchase gifts for family and friends, we should all aspire to be patient and cooperative with our fellow shoppers. Maybe you missed out on the deals this year because you were relaxing after a busy day of eating and conversing with family or you just didn’t want to get lost in the lines of frenzied shoppers. With the advent of technological advancements, holiday shopping has gotten a little bit easier.
Luckily, the internet has revolutionized how we shop for our holidays. One need only visit a website, buy an item and have it shipped directly to us. Cyber Monday is now a widely recognized online version of Black Friday, except without all the crowds. Fairly recently, an even newer trend has emerged as daily deal websites have partnered with local companies and stores to offer you a good deal on a wide range of goods or services. Some of these include Groupon, LivingSocial, Google Offers and the Gilt Groupe. You can subscribe for free on their websites and each day, they will email you one or more daily deals on anything from cameras to clothing to cross-country skiing packages. These sites are definitely worth looking into, and it could save you some money this year.
In addition to these daily deal sites, please consider visiting and shopping at our local stores this holiday season. They are a resource that is unmatched in convenience and service. In commuting to and from work or just running errands around town, we pass numerous stores that could benefit from our business. Recently featured in the news, a small business advocacy group called The 3/50 Project has been asking consumers to spend $50 per month at three local stores in an effort to invest more revenue back into the community. According to the group’s website, when someone spends $100 in a locally-owned independent store, $68 returns to the local economy through taxes, payroll and other revenues. When that money is spent at a national chain, it falls to $43 staying locally. Both independent stores and national chains add to our sense of community, but it is an interesting study into local economics.
As always, be vigilant against online scams. If you are concerned about certain retailers, the Better Business Bureau is a good place to check. They offer some tips that can help protect you from fraud. First and foremost, be sure that the website you are purchasing from is reputable. Many times, this means looking for official seals and that the site is secure for transactions. You can be sure that a site is secure if there is an ‘s’ located in the address bar in the ‘https://’ section. If you decide to purchase something online, it would be wise to use a credit card because you can later dispute the charges if you don’t end up receiving what you paid for. Also, a regular check of your credit card statements for suspicious activity can help catch any problems. Ultimately, if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. For more information, please visit www.ct.bbb.org.
Shopping has certainly evolved in recent years, and that trend is certain to continue in the future. If you decided to sit out this Black Friday, there are still good ways to save when shopping for the upcoming holidays. These daily deal websites can be a helpful tool during this time. Between these sites and our local businesses, I hope these tips help you shop safely and save money this holiday season!