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Classic, comfort rule holiday shopping
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Stores have to decide far in advance what items they’ll push for the holidays.
Given the economy and the belt tightening that shoppers have been doing all year, retailers aren’t going to take many chances with the holiday merchandise they’ll offer. They already know that consumer wallets will be closed more than they’re open, so they need to cash in on what buyers appear to want.
This year think “traditional” and “comfort.” Expect few fad items to grace the shelves.
Decorations will tend to be the classics we grew up with — regular green Christmas trees with decorations in standard colors of gold and red.
Look for toys with good play value. Watch for hands-on, do-it-yourself items like crafts, kits and building sets.
Look for kitchen items that make it easier to cook (and eat) at home. Keep an eye out for warm comforters (because the thermostat is notched down a bit more this year) and one-person size quilts (so you’ll stay warm watching television because you’re not going out to movies as often).
You’ll have luck finding electronics at good prices. Again, consumers are staying home more, and retailers want to cash in on the desire for at-home entertainment. They’re hoping buyers will spring for computers that have Windows 7 and maybe even modestly priced big-screen televisions.
Look for accessories to update an existing wardrobe. (If you buy clothing, look for items that will last through many seasons. The hot color this year is purple. Can you live with that for three years?) Certain brand-name jeans likely will be on sale — a back-to-basics move.
Before you shop, plan your spending. Stick to cash where possible (or at least have a plan to pay off credit cards within three months.) Decide on must-have gifts, but leave yourself some leeway for surprise bargains that you discover.
Compare pricing between stores and online companies. Many online chains will have coupon codes for discounts if you buy online, but most will have quick expiration dates.
Shop discount stores where you can, but beware the quality of the merchandise. Look for new items in charity shops.
Hint: After your first day of holiday shopping, review your purchases and ask yourself if you really need to go out and buy more.

Uffington does not personally answer reader questions, but will incorporate them into his column whenever possible. Write to him in care of King Features Weekly Service, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475, or send e-mail to
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