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Go Online to Find Best Holiday Pricing Online Or At The Mall

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Even if you are still one of those people who don't think it is safe to shop online, you should take advantage of online pricing sites to find the best prices.

Of course if you already shop online then you can really take advantage of the online sites which provide comparison prices but which aren't actually selling anything or just host store fronts.

If you are still a mall walker and you go into a store only to see something selling for $199.95 but already know that you can get it delivered for free from an online store for only $125, you might just decide to look into the world of online shopping.

You can also combine online and in store shopping.

Walmart.com, for example, has a good web site and you can find many items which are not available in stores. You can order these online and either have the items shipped to your home or for free to a nearby Wal-Mart store for pickup. You will also find customer ratings for some items.

Even if you know where you are going to buy something you can save a lot of gas and time, especially during this terrible late fall weather, by checking out web sites for stores such as Lowes.com which will tell you if an item is in stock at your local store.

Look for a web site for your favorite store, many of the chain stores maintain online inventories for each store.

This is especially critical at the last minute when you don't want to search from store-to-store for one specific item.

By now most people realize that buying online is no less safe than buying things through mail order catalogs and despite skepticism voiced by some TV "judges" who live in a world of multimillionaires, even eBay is safe if you understand some simple rules such as using PayPal and checking the store ratings.

EBay.com is a great place to begin looking at prices of new gift-type items, just stick with eBay "stores" which have very high ratings. On other sites you may find customer ratings of particular products but on eBay you get ratings of the actual store.

Personally I never understood why people thought that going into a strange store was safer than buying from some store on eBay with thousands of positive ratings - in fact the reverse is obviously true, it takes a lot of homework to find the reputation of a physical store but eBay stores show every customer comment good or bad.

Searching on Google.com is an option to find the best price on items but unless you are skilled in building an online search query you will probably be swamped with results, many not of much use.

Bing.com is a similar story, look under the "shopping" bookmark.

Shopping.com did a terrible job in my recent tests while pricegrabber.com and nextag.com both do a good job on many items.

The bottom line is that you should probably check out two or three price comparison sites, it will probably take less time than getting spouse and the kids rounded up and in the car for a trip to the mall. Certainly that's true here and you avoid all that begging or the inevitable screaming and crying - kids would probably be better behaved too.

And don't forget the book giant Amazon which hosts a vast array of stores selling everything from pots and pans to gourmet food, not just books, movies, and CDs. You can also see product ratings. The stores want to keep happy customers so they can stay on Amazon.

Overstock.com used to be pretty poor in my experience but in recent years I've been extremely satisfied with their prices and service. You would probably have to settle for last year's model but on many items that simply shouldn't make any difference. Some items have customer reviews.

Your final step if you are going to do actual buying online is to search using either google.com or bing.com for coupons.

Online stores often accept coupon codes which can give you a good discount or free shipping, or both.

Whether you intend to shop online or enjoy the shopping experience and want to be right in the crowds at the mall, checking online pricing can be a great guide to saving money online or in the store.

John McCormick is a reporter, /science/medical columnist and finance and social commentator, with 17,000+ bylined stories. Contact John through NewsBlaze.

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