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Holiday shopping: Do it early and online

Julie Sherrier

My sister called me the other day to ask me what I wanted for Christmas. I laughed. It’s September, I said, school just started, summer’s barely over, who is thinking about holiday shopping?
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Granted, she’s got some time on her hands. She’s laid up in bed for a few weeks recuperating from surgery, and isn’t one to be idle, so she’s getting her shopping taken care of and she’s doing it all online. She has made calls to everyone in the family already, taking orders.

And, from what I’ve been reading, she’s not alone. The National Retail Federation says 37 percent plan to get some holiday shopping done before Halloween!

I have noticed some holiday decorations going up already — mostly in Home Depot — but I’m just not ready. It’s still 100 degrees here in Texas.

Nevertheless, whether you do it early or wait until the last minute, it looks like this year more will be doing it from home.

A recent survey by America’s Research Group reveals that while 82 percent of U.S. shoppers may rein in their holiday spending a bit compared to last year, more consumers will be avoiding brick-and-mortar stores and placing their orders online.

Plus, with so many retailers now offering free shipping, what do you have to lose besides driving around aimlessly and fighting the crowds trying to find that perfect sweater?

Speaking of free shipping, the fourth annual Free Shipping Day will be held Dec. 16. Apparently, in 2010, Free Shipping Day sales outpaced revenue each from Cyber Monday and Black Friday sales.

But I have some extra cash on hand now, so before I spend it on non-holiday items, maybe I should reconsider my whole holiday shopping strategy (more aptly phrased as my holiday shopping panic) and start my list now.

What do you think? Does holiday shopping months ahead of time reduce stress? Is a smart thing or do you just end up spending more by getting caught up in the whole gift-giving current earlier?

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