Get out of your bathing suit and put down that iced tea: there are only 114 shopping days left until Christmas!
If you’re like me, you’ve been shopping the sales all year long, putting aside treasures, not only for friends and family, but for holiday charity drives like Angel Tree, Toys for Tots and the News Neediest Fund.
If you haven’t started shopping, it’s not too late. Just start now. Seriously.
If you do enough of that leisurely shopping in advance, you can actually enjoy your holidays instead of driving from store to store like a maniac, yelling at everyone.
National retailers have been thinking about the holidays all year, too. Like Santa’s little elves, they’ve been hammering away at their marketing strategies. Toys “R” Us and Walmart are the first to reveal anything about their strategies to entice shoppers this season.
Toys “R” Us and Babies “R” Us have expanded their price match guarantees to include some Internet prices on in-store purchases of identical items.
They will now match the online prices from Walmart.com, Target.com, BestBuy.com, Sears.com, Kmart.com, buybuyBaby.com, Meijer.com, FredMeyer.com, Diapers.com, BabyDepot.com and Amazon.com (but not Amazon Marketplace).
They will also match prices on their own websites (wait, they don’t already do this?) except where prices are classified as “online only.”
You’ll have to be able to show the matched price on the competitor’s website or app. Prices will be matched after all other coupons, discounts and special offers are applied. The competitor’s shipping fees will also be added to the price.
Toys “R” Us and Babies “R” Us will continue to match prices advertised in local print ads for all competitors as long as you produce the original paper ad.
The stores won’t match any prices at all on Thanksgiving or Black Friday, and will suspend matching online prices from Nov. 17 through Nov. 25, when online retailers tend to offer their most aggressive holiday deals.
Like Sears and Kmart, Walmart will offer free layaway for the holidays. Last year, it charged a $15 fee to open a layaway account, which it later dropped to $5 and refunded with a $5 gift card when the layaway purchase was complete.
Layaway will be offered Sept. 13 through Dec. 13, but those who “like” Walmart’s official Facebook page will get to access the service beginning Sept. 11.
Walmart has also reinstated a $10 cancellation penalty if layaway purchases aren’t completed.
Layaway requires a minimum $15 per item purchase, a total purchase amount of $50 and a downpayment of $10 or 10 percent (whichever is greater).
Layaway items are also eligible for Walmart’s ad match guarantee, which matches prices in printed ads for identical items.
The store has also expanded the categories of merchandise eligible for layaway to include infant toys and automotive electronics such as car stereos and speakers.
Electronics, toys, jewelry, small appliances and select sporting goods are also eligible.