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Surviving Holiday Shopping

November 21, 2000

Surviving Holiday Shopping



On your mark, get set GO!!!!!

The holiday shopping season kicks off tomorrow - "Black Friday" - the day retailers sell enough to put their ledgers "in the black."

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Stores will open early and close late. This year, consumers say they will spend as much as or more than they did last year. Retailers can expect an increase in holiday sales for the 10th consecutive year, according to a survey conducted in affiliation with the National Retail Federation.

How will you cope?

We asked readers - on both sides of the counter - to share their tips for surviving hectic holiday shopping.

We received some wonderful ideas and thank all who took the time to participate.

Gary Scott, 14, of Hagerstown is the lucky winner of the random drawing and will receive the $50 prize. Congratulations!

Happy holidays to all.

- Kate Coleman, Staff Writer

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HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Have a detailed Christmas list made up in advance. Use catalogs and fliers to choose gift ideas. This will save time wandering around the stores.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> "Case" the stores in advance for items and their prices.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Know the exact location of merchandise in each store.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Compare prices. Chose stores with best overall prices and most variety.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Bring competitors' fliers and coupons. Many stores will honor competitors' prices or beat them.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Know the return policy of each store.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Check to see if the store offers anything free - shipping, gift boxes, gift wrapping.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Don't try to do all your shopping in one day. Choose one group to buy for each trip - children, family, friends, etc.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Get to bed early the night before shopping. Be the first one in the store when the doors open.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Wear sneakers. Your feet will thank you later.

- Amy Branyan, Hagerstown




Charles F. Bartlett, 88, of Menno Village in Chambersburg, Pa., had advice for store managers to get more men in the stores:

"Most women love to shop and browse. Most men dislike it," he observed. Women seem to enjoy spending time among the goods, but most men like to come in, get what they want and leave, he added.

Most stores allow shoppers to "grope around," and many men get tired and frustrated and give up, Bartlett believes. A solution at some "progressive" stores is to have a complete store directory on the back of the shopping cart or at the store entrance. Aisles and rows are marked with their contents so you can find what you want without endless searching.

- Charles F. Bartlett, Chambersburg, Pa.




Dusty Routzahn wrote that she usually starts early after deciding what she wants to give. She watches for bargain days to save money and picks days and times in the week - Monday or Tuesday - when stores won't be crowded.

Routzahn believes you get the best pick of items by shopping early and you don't have to worry with last-minute shoppers.

"Then when it gets real close to the holiday, you can join the crowd and have a holiday time of fun."

- Dusty Routzahn, Hagerstown


From a store owner:
HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> We are really glad to see you.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Could you cut us some slack? We are working really hard, taking care of twice or three times as many people as we usually do.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> When you are ready to check out, could you already have your credit card handy, or begin to fill out your check?

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> We don't have as much time to straighten shelves, so could you put things back neatly after you have looked at them?

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Could you tell us when you take the last of an item off the shelf? It helps us keep stock levels up.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Could you remember that we, too, are feeling rushed by the holidays? Not only do we work really hard all day helping you with your Christmas shopping, at the end of the day, we have to do our own shopping.

- Ellen Collins, owner of Howard's Art Supplies & Frames, 1256 Dual Highway in Hagerstown


HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Plan what you want to spend on each person.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Listen throughout the year for gift ideas.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Start shopping early. March is not too soon.

- Kathy Dorwart, State Line, Pa.


If you're a cashier/salesperson:
HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Be friendly. Say hi and thank you to each customer.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> When giving change, give coins first, then bills and count bills back.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Show customers where an item is. This may be their first visit to the store.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Suggest items that go with the customer's purchase - batteries for toys, tape and scissors with wrapping paper, etc.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> SMILE!

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Remember the customer is a person, also, and might have had a bad day or a rude salesperson before you. Your kindness could make their day.

If you're a customer:
HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Be friendly. 'Tis the season. A smile goes a long way.

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