ShopSmart's Best Shopping Tips of the Year

Dec 19, 2013, 06:00 ET from ShopSmart

Never miss out on savings by following these money-saving strategies; Plus, shopping don'ts

YONKERS, N.Y., Dec. 19, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Shopping smart doesn't mean cheaping out on all purchases – it's about knowing where and when to shop, what to buy and what to skip, and making a plan before buying. The January 2014 issue of ShopSmart, from Consumer Reports, highlights dozens of the best shopping strategies from the past year and warns against ten shopping don'ts.

"All year long we share our expert secrets that can save shoppers tons of money on almost everything they buy," said Lisa Lee Freeman, editor-in-chief of ShopSmart. "Out of hundreds, we've chosen our favorites that can help you save into the new year."  

Here are a handful of ShopSmart's best shopping tips of the year:

  • Shop online on Tuesdays.  That's when prices tend to be lowest; they're highest on Sundays.
  • Switch to store brands.  Every year tests show that store-brand products are often as good as name brands – and sometimes even better.
  • Clean up at flash sales.  They were the hottest way to save this year.  Sign up for limited-time sales from flash-sale sites including,, and more.
  • Sign up for retailer loyalty programs.  Rewards programs can be really worth it for those who shop regularly at a particular store.  Some are linked to credit cards, but other retailers tally purchases and reward shoppers' with gift cards or special deals when they reach a certain amount.
  • Snag free shipping.  American Express cardholders can get free two-day shipping for a year from dozens of major retailers with ShopRunner.  Otherwise, it costs $79 a year (same as Amazon Prime, which gets shoppers the same perks on Amazon purchases). offers free shipping from more than 4,000 stores.

Smart-shopping is also knowing what not to do; here are some of ShopSmart's shopping don'ts:

  • Don't buy gift cards with upfront fees.  Retailer cards don't usually charge purchase fees, but those with a credit-card logo might charge as much as $5.
  • Don't buy by brand.  Just because a company is great at making one product doesn't mean everything it makes is good.
  • Don't shell out for restocking fees.  Amazon, Sears, and other retailers keep a percentage of the purchase price – up to 20 percent – when shoppers return certain items, mainly media and electronics.  Read return policies for gotchas.

The full list of the best shopping tips of the year and shopping don'ts is featured in the January 2014 issue of ShopSmart on newsstands now. 

About Consumer Reports:
Consumer Reports is the world's largest independent product-testing organization. Using its more than 50 labs, auto test center, and survey research center, the nonprofit rates thousands of products and  services  annually. Founded in 1936, Consumer Reports has over 8 million subscribers to its magazine, website, and other publications. Its advocacy division, Consumers Union, works for health reform, food and product safety, financial reform, and other consumer issues in Washington, D.C., the states, and in the marketplace.

About ShopSmart magazine:
Launched in Fall 2006 by Consumer Reports, ShopSmart draws upon the publication's celebrated tradition of accepting no advertisements and providing unbiased product reviews. ShopSmart features product reviews, shopping tips on how to get the most out of products and "best of the best" lists. It's ideal for busy shoppers who place a premium on time. ShopSmart has a newsstand price of $4.99 and is available nationwide at major retailers including Barnes & Noble, Walmart, Kroger, Safeway and Publix. ShopSmart is available by subscription at

ShopSmart is available 10 times a year. Subscribe at

SOURCE ShopSmart