Five tips to help you score the best deals on your holiday

TORONTO — The malls are decked with boughs of holly as retailers hope to attract shoppers during the key holiday season. But more and more Canadians are hoping to score the best deals from the comfort of their own homes and a digital screen.Nearly two-thirds of Canadians say they are planning to holiday shop online, up from 55 per cent last year, according to a recent survey conducted by FedEx.Even after Black Friday and Cyber Monday, many retailers continue to offer discounts during what has been dubbed “cyberweek.”Millennials’ lust for makeup driving a boom in the cosmetics industryFrom Sears to J. Crew, the holiday will be make-or-break for these struggling retailersKerry K. Taylor, a personal finance expert at, says to ignore the hype retailers build around products and sales in a bid to move a lot of inventory.“Know that a lot of these so-called deals are playing on your fear of missing out, because you want the best deal,” she says.“This is why we end up overspending.”That’s why it’s important to not only make a list, but check it twice to ensure you’re actually getting the best bargain on that remote-controlled Star Wars BB-8 robot or Google Home Mini.Here are five tips to get the best deals online:1) Wipe your digital slate clean first.Clear all cookies and browsing history or use an incognito window (a mode available in many browsers that allows you to surf the web without tracking your activity) when shopping online. Otherwise, retailers can use that information to adjust the price based on your profile and online trail, says Taylor.“It knows exactly what kinds of items you’re interested in, and some of them have customer-based pricing, so they change the pricing based on how many times you’ve visited the site.”For example, a 7-in-1 Instant Pot electronic pressure cooker was priced at $237.99 on when viewed using an incognito window, but was listed $285.99 when using a regular browser window.2) Use apps and browser extensions to comparison shop or find coupon codes.Digital flyer apps like Reebee and Flipp are useful tools to compare prices. Shoppers can search for their desired items using the app, or corresponding website, and find prices as listed on digital flyers from a variety of retailers. Also, because the price listed is embedded in a flyer, it does not shift based on a customer’s online profile, adds Taylor.When ready to check out, shoppers can use Honey, an extension that can be added to Google’s Chrome browser that can search online for applicable discount, promotion or coupon codes. Consumers can select the code they want to use and apply it to their order before paying.3) Use the model or product number to comparison shop.To make sure you are comparing apples to apples, use the specific product or model number as well as the brand and product name when searching online to size up a deal, says Taylor. Otherwise, the price you see offered by online merchant may be lower or higher to reflect different features or products, not necessarily a deeper discount.4) Avoid extended warrantiesOnline retailers can also try to tack on an extended warranty, which can add as much as 20 per cent to the purchase price, Taylor says.“You’ve just eroded all the value you’ve earned.”These warranties offer little benefit, and a similar level of coverage is often already offered from many credit card purchase protection plans, she adds.5) Sign up for retailer newsletters to learn about flash sales and coupons.If you are looking for a certain product or eyeing a particular retailer, you can sign up for email newsletters and shop when they offer a flash sale (a discount or promotion offered for a short period of time) or a coupon code, says Taylor. But she urges consumers to unsubscribe once an item is crossed off your list, as these newsletters will tempt you to spend unnecessarily.“It’s really hard for our brains to avoid wanting to get the best deal,” Taylor says.“We’re wired to spend money, basically, and the retailers know this.”