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Holiday Shopping Bargains: ‘New to you’ Is As Good As Brand New

holiday shopping bargains

Why thrift stores, consignment shops should be your holiday shopping destination

The bells are ringing. The holiday decorations are up (since September). And retailers across the country are ready for what’s shaping up to be a solid holiday shopping season.

Indeed, 2017 holiday retail sales are expected to reach about $680 billion, up nearly 4 percent from 2016, according to the National Retail Federation’s annual holiday forecast.

It’s good news for malls and merchants, but bad news for the rest of us, who are trying to stay on a budget, pay off debt, sock away money in an emergency fund, save up for retirement, put away a little money for the kids’ college funds … and satisfy all of those holiday wishes.

The list of things we need to do with what little money we have can take our breathe away. So, how can we turn those few extra dollars into holiday shopping bargains and gifts for our loved ones?

Your answer: Thrift shops and consignment stores.

Holiday Shopping Bargains at Thrift Store Prices

Resale shops often feature new, like-new and new-to-you merchandise that’s often as good as what you might find at the mall for a fraction of the price.

And, if you head there for your holiday shopping, you won’t be alone. The number of resale and consignment shops has grown by 7 percent in the past two years, according to the Association of Resale Professionals, generating $17 billion in annual sales.

These resale shops are the perfect place to load up on toys (young kids won’t know the difference between new and slightly used), home decor (your teen will be thrilled for trendy accessories for her bedroom that match her style) and clothing (for those holiday parties, gatherings and special church services). It may not be a good idea to buy a resold gift for your inlaws or coworker, but your kids won’t care where their treasures came from!

If you’re looking for ways to cut your holiday bills this year, here are four tips for finding holiday shopping bargains by shopping resale.

  • Ask for the markdown deals.

Many thrift stores and consignment shops will mark down items that have been on the floor for a period of time. These markdowns can save you even more off of the already low prices -- often 20 percent or 25 percent. As soon as you walk into the store, ask about the markdown policy so you know exactly how much items are.

  • Find a favorite store.

Anybody who has shopped resale knows that you never know what will be in the store. Some days, you love everything. Other days, there’s nothing you’d want to take home. To find the best deals, you need to go back -- and often.

Find a favorite store, get to know the staff and be sure to let them know what you’re looking for. Maybe it’s silver picture frames, a size 14 black suit or a ride-on toy for your child. If you shop there enough, staffers might just give you a call when they get exactly what you’ve been looking for.

  • Look over everything before you buy.

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the deal. But sometimes the deals can be too good to be true. Before you head to the cashier, take a very close look at everything you buy. Don’t be afraid to move the merchandise to a part of the store with better light so you can look for nicks, dents, scratches, torn book pages or stains.

  • Sell your own stuff.

While thrift shops typically take donations, resale shops often buy their merchandise to resell, and consignment shops typically accept items on a consignment basis. At consignment shops, owners receive a percentage of the selling price when those items are sold. Owners also, in either case, can sometimes receive store credit for items that are sold.

Either way, you’ve earned a little money -- or credit -- to spend toward things you do need and to satisfy a few more holiday wishes.

Do you have any other hoiday shopping bargain tips? We’d love to hear them -- share them in the comments!

Consumer Education Services, Inc. (CESI) is a non-profit committed to empowering and inspiring consumers nationwide to make wise financial decisions and live debt free. Speak with a certified counselor for a free debt analysis today


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