EDITOR'S NOTE: Click here to see our updated list of Web sites for 2007.
Shoppers are expected to spend, on average, $791.10 each this year on holiday merchandise, according to a survey conducted for the National Retail Federation by BIGresearch. And a poll of Kiplinger.com readers shows that about a third who responded plan to spend $1,000 or more. That's no small change.
But you can keep your holiday spending under control thanks to an array of Web sites geared toward helping consumers find bargains. There are sites that post deals on everything from clothes to electronics, sites that give you cash back when you shop, sites that provide coupon codes, sites that help you compare prices and even sites that post Black Friday sale ads before they hit the newspapers. Even if you don't buy online, it never hurts to find the best deals on the Web before you brave crowded stores. Then you can comparison shop and make better choices.
We've tested and picked 20 Web sites we think are easy to use and will help you save money this holiday season. Take a look:
Online bargain sites
Our favorite in this category is DealsOfAmerica, which updates deals every hour. Every item it lists on the home page has a picture, a description, the store that's offering the deal and, best of all, the list price so you'll know just how much of a bargain you're getting. The site also has coupons, a Black Friday bargains center, price comparison tool, a list of products or services available for free after rebate or coupon and a hot deal e-mail alert you can sign up to receive. Deals are from top online retailers and brick-and-mortar stores with nationwide presence.
Two other distinctive sites: AbleShoppers and Slickdeals.net. They list deals by date so you know new items are being added every day. Both also offer online coupons. AbleShoppers also offers shopping tips and an e-mail newsletter.
Dealtaker.com lists some deals on its home page, but you'll find hundreds more listed in forums, where you'll also find Black Friday ad scans and rumored sale lists. So if you're willing to take the time to troll through the forums, you'll probably find deals here you won't find other places. There are more than 60,000 forum members who post deals, and you don't have to register to view the ones listed. But you do have to register to see the Black Friday ads. The site also offers coupons for about 1,500 online stores, a price search engine and e-mail notification of deals.
If you don't like the idea of shopping online, Shoplocal.com can help you find deals at stores near you. You can shop by categories and by price range. Just don't expect to find every store in your town (or even some major ones) listed on this site.
Comparison shopping sites
If you really want to score a great buy, this is the way to go. We found deals for a plasma TV on PriceGrabber.com, Shopping.com and Shopzilla that were better than prices listed on bargain shopping sites. What we really like about these price comparison sites is that you get a lot of results for your searches with the range of prices listed, product descriptions, and store and product ratings. The sites also are good places to go if you are looking for gift ideas, especially Shopzilla, which even has a link on the homepage to help you find deals on holiday décor.