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(StatePoint) If it feels like the holiday season is getting longer and more reliant on technology every year, you’re not imagining it.
  According to the Sensormatic Solutions 2022 U.S. Holiday Consumer Sentiment Survey, 52% of respondents already started or plan to start their holiday shopping before November, and pre-Labor Day holiday shopping more than doubled over 2021. That said, the top busiest shopping days in the United States are all expected between Black Friday and the day after Christmas.
    Whether shoppers are making a list and checking it twice as early in the season as possible or waiting until the last minute, they are also likely to be thinking all the ways to shop, including integrating digital options with a traditional brick-and-mortar experience, both which offer key consumer benefits.
     “The past couple years have fundamentally changed the way we celebrate the holidays, starting with how we shop,” said Kim Melvin, global leader of marketing, Sensormatic Solutions. “This year, shoppers are using the very same tools they once turned to for health and safety reasons to make the experience more convenient and affordable.”
     Sixty-four percent of respondents cited convenience as their top reason for using buy-online-pickup-in-store (BOPIS) or curbside pickup this holiday season, while 37% are leveraging these options to access online-exclusive deals. Shoppers are also blurring the lines between the digital and physical shopping experiences, using their phones while in stores to read product reviews, access coupons, check on product availability and conduct other research -- 27% use their phones to supplement their shopping experience every time they shop in-store and an additional 31% do so most of the time they shop in-store.
    “While the majority of shoppers feel very comfortable making their holiday purchases in-store this year, factors like price, product availability and convenience are at the top of everyone’s minds,” said Melvin. “A combination of traditional brick-and-mortar visits and alternative shopping methods, such as BOPIS and curbside pickup, are helping consumers take these factors into consideration as they complete their holiday wish lists.”
     As part of its mission to solve complex retail challenges, Sensormatic Solutions is providing its top strategies to improve your holiday shopping experience:
• If staying within your seasonal budget is a priority for you or you harbor supply chain concerns, consider leveraging shopping holidays such as Black Friday. Doing so can help ensure product availability, and thanks to holiday promotions, help you secure reasonable pricing on needed items.
• One of the most frustrating aspects of holiday shopping is not finding what you need on store shelves. Using alternative shopping methods such as BOPIS and curbside pickup can offer greater convenience and help ensure that when you visit a store, you won’t leave empty-handed.
    For more holiday shopping tips and insights, visit
    Though this holiday season may resemble the last few years in many ways, shoppers’ motivations for going digital have changed. Having a game plan can help you score great deals and find what you need.

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(StatePoint) With higher gas prices and rising inflation putting pressure on finances, drivers are looking for ways to save on the cost of car ownership. On average, it costs between $15,000- $24,000 to own a car over a five-year period, including fuel, maintenance, insurance, repairs, financing and state fees.
  While some of those costs are beyond your control, here are five things you can do to lower the cost of car ownership:
1. When shopping for a vehicle, compare prices at multiple dealerships and research factors that will influence the cost of owning a particular model car, such as its fuel efficiency, along with the estimated cost of repairs and parts replacements down the line.
2. Scan local gas stations for the best price and consider becoming a rewards member at grocery stores that offer fuel perks. Certain gas brands have rewards programs as well, many of which you can access via smartphone apps.
3. Consider setting up a savings account for car-related expenses. Earmarking some of your income for automotive needs will help ensure you can cover expected and unexpected costs.
4. Drive safely and more consciously to conserve fuel. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, “obeying the speed limit, accelerating and braking gently and gradually, and reading the road ahead can improve the fuel economy of your vehicle by 15%-30% at highway speeds and 10%-40% in stop-and-go traffic.”
5. Talk to your insurance agent to make sure you are getting all the car insurance discounts you deserve. Erie Insurance offers a wide range of discounts and money-saving features, such as first accident forgiveness, diminishing deductible, reduced usage, youthful driver and college student. They also offer a discount for bundling policies and have an app called YourTurn that can reward you for safe driving. Drivers may earn up to $20 a month in gift cards. To learn more, visit
  “We know that at a time of rising prices people are looking for ways to reduce the cost of car ownership, and insurance is one place to start,” said Bob Buckel, vice president, Personal Auto, Erie Insurance. “Looking for a plan that gives you exactly what you need and nothing you don’t means you’ll be protected while not paying any more than you should. This is a great time to reach out to your independent insurance agent to review your policy and discounts.”
  While the future of inflation rates and gas prices is uncertain, the good news is there are creative ways to lower the cost of owning your car so you can enjoy the road.