Black Friday and Cyber Monday may have come and gone, but that doesn't mean the bargains have to end too. Last-minute shoppers can still save money. Just load up your smartphone or tablet with one of many free shopping apps that let you compare prices, research products, receive price drop alerts and make purchases.
The growing use of mobile apps is changing the way Americans shop. 2014 could be the year mobile becomes mainstream. According to IBM, online sales from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday rose more than 12.5 percent this year compared to the same period in 2013. Purchases made on smartphones and tablets soared 27 percent.
There are so many different types of shopping apps that finding which ones to use can be exhausting. We asked Dan Ackerman, senior editor for CNET, for some of his favorite holiday apps.
If you still need to make a gift list, Ackerman recommends Santa's Bag for iOS and Christmas List Snowball for Android. "It lets you know how long you have until Christmas and let's you set a budget," Ackerman said. You can also enter the names of people on your gift list. Each time you make a purchase, the amount you spent is deducted from your budget.
RedLaser, Amazon and ShopSavvy (for IOS and Android) are great apps that use the camera in your phone to compare prices. "Just hold up the barcode and it reads it. Then, figures out what the product is and then shows the prices at stores nearby and online," Ackerman said.
If you do find a better price elsewhere, many retailers like Best Buy, Target and Toys 'R Us will now match it. Policies vary from store to store, so be sure to read the fine print.
If you're shopping for a particular item and hoping to buy it at a particular price, ShopAdvisor (for IOS and Android) will alert you when the item goes on sale. It tracks price history and finds the best deals near you.
To find out what's on sale at retailers near you, Flipp pulls together all the weekly ads and delivers them right to your fingertips. "It scans in the entire flyer. And then if you see something you like, you can actually tap on it and it's going to put a circle around it and it saves it to a list for later," Ackerman said.
If you like to clip coupons, then check out Coupon Sherpa and RetailMeNot. You can search for mobile coupons and online codes from thousands of retailers. How much can you save? RetailMeNot says its shoppers saved an average of $29 per order over Thanksgiving weekend.
Ackerman has one more app to recommend that can come in handy after a long day of at the mall. "It's called Car Finder, another free app. It'll let you use the GPS and map in your phone to just save your location and then when you come back, I'm just going to go, 'Oh, I'm just going to find a little red pin.'"