How to Use Technology to Maximize Bargain Hunting

Want to avoid mall madness? Cyber Monday may offer consumers an alternative from visiting crowded stores during Thanksgiving weekend, but the evolution of online bargain hunting lets consumers hunt down deals year round.

By
Tue, November 25, 2008

CIO

Just days away from Thanksgiving, it seems like the spirit of holiday shopping has been forced upon consumers even earlier this year. Sure, you could go to the mall and shop amidst a slew of other people while trying to block out annoying versions of holiday songs. Or you could stay at home and shop online. Both can be cost efficient, but one may seem less like a chore.

A recent report by comScore reveals that spending on retail e-commerce in October 2008 was up 1 percent over October 2007—last month showing a six-month run of decreasing growth rates.

Yet, although more consumers might be spending more money online, it doesn't mean that they're spending more money overall. According to the Neilsen Holiday Expectation Survey of 21,000 households, more than one-third of respondents plan to cut their holiday spending this year.

Though most major retailers wait until the beginning of November to put up any holiday decorations, some made sure they got the word out on their merchandise even earlier this year. Some holiday advertisements, like one for the annual "Radio City Christmas Spectacular" ran as early as September. And of course, retailers have been making sure sales are abundant both off and online.

And while consumers can plow through the shelves and racks of items at their nearest stores looking for bargains, being a mall rat is out. Online shopping is in. And don't forget Cyber Monday, a single day when shopping websites offer tremendous sales to draw in customers.

The National Retail Federation predicts a 2.2 percent increase for stores in November and December, but Forrester Research says online retail sales will grow around 12 percent.

Since the launch of online retailers like Amazon.com, consumers are becoming increasingly comfortable with the idea of online shopping. BagBorroworSteal.com, which lets consumers rent designer jewelry and handbags, offers consumers the option to rent a luxury handbag that normally costs a few thousand dollars for less than a hundred. Overstock.com, another popular shopping site, refers to itself as an online outlet mall. Newegg.com, a site that offers consumers more than 25,000 tech products, is known for low prices and very fast shipping.

Due to the overabundance of e-commerce sites, some consumers look at online bargain hunting as more of a game than anything else.

Mike, an assistant treasurer at a bank in New York City is one of these people. An online bargain hunter since about 1998, Mike currently does 95 percent of his shopping online and even helps others find great deals on things.

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