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Shopping Smart This Holiday Season

Credit cards are displayed in Haverhill, Mass., June 15, 2017.

Credit: Associated Press

Above: Credit cards are displayed in Haverhill, Mass., June 15, 2017.

U.S consumer debt is at an all-time high based on the latest numbers from the Federal Reserve.

The numbers show consumer debt is up $605 billion compared to the same time last year. San Diego consumers are fairing worse than their counterparts in other cities. A recent study by LendingTree found San Diegans have used almost a third of their available credit, and 18 percent have at least one card maxed-out. Overall, the study found San Diego residents carry more than $6,000 in credit card debt, on average.

However, this debt is not keeping people from spending during the holidays. In fact, the National Retail Federation found holiday sales are on track to grow 4 percent compared to 2016.

San Diego State University marketing lecturer Miro Copic said Americans are set to increase their spending this season at a rate that out paces this year’s average wage increases.

KPBS spoke to Copic about how shoppers can treat their loved ones without going broke.

Q: We’ve heard of Black Friday, Cyber Monday. Is there really a best time to shop?

A: For consumers the best time, single time, is the weekend before Black Friday through Cyber Monday. Then, depending on how retailers are doing, it's the week from December 10 to December 22. Those will be the best times to shop because retailers will deepen discounts a little bit.

Q: Do people actually save if they take advantage of these Black Fridays and Cyber Mondays?

A: Generally, yes. Retailers will work with their manufacturing partners, for example, right after the holiday season to really develop products that are going to be a great value. So they work with them, in terms of volume, to get a price point that’s going to be special.

Q: How much are shoppers expected to spend this year?

A: Shoppers are expected to spend about $950 per person, which is up about 3 to 4 percent versus last year, and about $600 to $700 is going to be for gifts and the rest is going to be food, decorations, cards, all that kind of stuff.

Q: How can people afford to spend this much without going into debt?

A: Some people do go into debt. Some people save throughout the year. In fact, about 35 percent of consumers have bought their Christmas gifts or a large number of their holiday gifts.

Q: What’s your number one tip to making sure you shop smart this holiday season?

A: Develop your wish list if you’re buying for somebody or for yourself. So those items that are important to you, you know and you get notified when they’re on deal. Secondly, when you’re about to go out, use your research online or on your mobile device to see where you get the best prices.

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