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(ARA) – As we head into this holiday season, shoppers will start to plan their holiday gift lists, hit the stores and start shopping. Getting the most for your holiday shopping dollars this year will not only be about sticking to a budget, but managing valuable time to spend on shopping for the holidays.

Bing.com commissioned University of Washington Economist Ali Tarhouni to analyze data on consumer shopping behavior and found the time spent holiday shopping could be more valuable than you might think.

  • Research reveals that an average American can expect a $114 savings, or roughly 10 percent savings per transaction in time and material cost this holiday season by reducing the running around typically associated with holiday shopping.
  • Shoppers could make an average of 5.4 trips to the mall for holiday shopping this coming season, which is equivalent to an average of $98 for lost working productivity and approximately $16 for gas, according to Tarhouni’s research.
  • A typical consumer visits an average of five stores, shops for an average of two hours and spends an average of $150 per mall trip during the holiday season, according to a survey by Baker Retail Initiative and Verde Group Research. Conducting research by comparison shopping online before heading into stores or making purchases online can help reduce the amount of time and money spent.

Mary Hunt, personal finance expert and author of “Debt Proof Living,” believes it’s important to be smart in the way you approach your holiday shopping so you can avoid these hidden costs and be more productive this holiday season.

“This season it is all about value, and time is often a more precious resource than money,” says Hunt. “If we consider how valuable each hour of our holiday shopping experience is, consider how much more valuable spending time with loved ones is, or volunteering at a local food bank. Shopping is about efficiency this time of year, and it’s about using the tools available to make better purchasing decisions faster.”

Hunt offers a few tips to help you make faster and more informed shopping decisions this holiday season:

  • Use tools available online: when creating your holiday shopping plan, start online. You can organize your list, set your budget and comparison shop fast and efficiently. Sites like Bing.com offer comprehensive user and expert reviews, and you can choose to shop entirely online, or hit the mall more empowered to find what you want in less time.
  • Shop alone. Take the kids to the mall to see the Holiday sights and sounds and enjoy hot chocolate and cinnamon rolls, but shop alone when you are not distracted or pressured.  Shopping solo gives you the luxury to compare, contemplate and change your mind.
  • Keep organized with an exclusive online shopping e-mail account and keep all receipts. Create an e-mail address that you use exclusively for online shopping. Now it will be a snap to keep all your invoices and receipts together in one place where they can be easily retrieved. Returns are always easiest when you have the receipt. Ask for “gift receipts” that do not show the dollar amounts to give to your recipient just in case the sweater doesn’t fit or the color is all wrong. A stack of envelopes, each with the name of a person on your list, is the best way to stay organized.

  • Shop early to take advantage of deals and free shipping. If you wait until the last moment you may spend all your savings on overnight shipping. Shop early when you have the luxury of the cheaper and slower – delivery options.

  • Get cash back. More online retailers than ever are offering cash back this holiday season. Try Bing cashback for cash rewards on purchases from more than a thousand of your favorite retailers including Walmart, Target, HP, Nordstrom, and eBay.

  • Bing shopping offers you a single destination to shop and get cashback from more than 1,000 retailers nationwide. You’ll reduce your online shopping time with features including search result filters, comprehensive shopping results and opinion ranking.

    Bing cashback allows you to set up an account and receive actual cash back on qualifying purchases. The site tells you up front what items will qualify and how much you’ll save. Money is deposited into your account and you can ask for a payout 60 days (varies by merchants) after purchases as long as your account total tops $5.

    Log on to www.Bing.com/shopping to save time and money this holiday shopping season and earn cash back on your purchases.

    Courtesy of ARAcontent

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