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Rossen Reports: Beat shopping shortages with these insider tips

Here are some insider tips from the experts that will save you frustration and even save you money this holiday shopping season.

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Shipping problems are causing shortages for almost everything, making holiday shopping a nightmare.

Tired of hearing everyone tell you to "shop early?" Here are some insider tips from the experts that will save you frustration and even save you money this holiday shopping season.

Click the pickup option

Has this happened to you? You’re shopping online and see something you like. It says there are only a few left, so you click "buy." But then you get an email saying the item you bought is out of stock and your money is being refunded. Now you’re back on the hunt for that item.

What happened?

Our consumer savings and shopping expert Andrea Woroch says a lot of retailers fulfill online orders through local retailers, not always from large warehouses. A shopper came in and nabbed your item before the online order could be fulfilled.

Here’s the trick: don’t click "delivery," click "pick it up in-store."

This will ensure that an employee will grab the item off the shelf and put it in a safe place just for you.

Buy open box items

Those big red "opened box" stickers can be scary, but you can save a lot of money.

For many retailers, "open box" means that someone bought it, opened it, but didn’t want it. It doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a defect. Pay close attention to what the sticker says because it will give you everything you need to know.

Is it in good condition? Are all the accessories included or are some missing?

Employees inspect the items closely to make sure the stickers they print are accurate. A secret tip? If the sticker says glue or tape "residue" or "minor scratches" on something like a television, those things will be on the frame, not the screen itself.

Buy refurbished

Another scary word, but it’s not so bad. Refurbished has different meanings depending on the retailer.

"Some stores have to sell their items as refurbished, even if it was never used," Woroch said.

This is similar to what "open box" means, but in many cases, "refurbished" could mean that the product was faulty or had a defect. The retailer then repairs it to work like new.

"As long as that retailer offers a certification or a warranty with that item, that’s a great way to save some money and get something almost brand new at a major discount. Or it’s a great way to get a new model at a discount," Woroch said.

Find out about new shipments

One way to ensure you get the gift you want to give this season is to figure out when your local retailer is getting in new shipments.

How?

Woroch said you could go up to a store associate and ask. She added that some retailers will know when trucks come in but won’t know what’s on them. But some retailers will be able to tell you when trucks with certain items (like televisions, toys, etc.) are coming in for new deliveries. Then you can be the first at the store to grab your item off the shelf.

Shop Local

Online or in-person, you don’t need to always head to the big retailers to get what you want. Try out your local stores for more options.

Track deals on your own

Think you need to wait for better sales and deals to come along? Think again.

Woroch says retailers fluctuate prices throughout the week and the month, but unless you’re surfing the web every day, you’re not going to know when the item you want becomes available.

Amazon Assistant and Honey’s Droplist both let you create a shopping list. Once those items go on sale, you’ll get an email alerting you. Bonus tip: Paribus is an app that scans your inbox for receipt confirmations. It will monitor the prices of things you bought. If it detects a price drop, Paribus will go to the retailer and ask for a price adjustment, and you’ll get a portion credited to your account. (You don’t have to do anything, which is cool.)

Think outside the shopping box

If you’re buying something simple, try sites like Facebook Marketplace. Your neighbor could be selling something on your list for a better price, just lightly used. Just remember to use caution when meeting up for the exchange. Here’s a Rossen Reports story on tips to keep safe.

Happy holiday shopping!