Marketing Professor Donald Lichtenstein at the University of Colorado at Boulder says the first thing shoppers should do is compare prices.
"Do your research because prices for the identical item can vary significantly," he says.
The professor at CU's Leeds School of Business has studied marketing trends and says often shoppers fall for pricing ploys at stores.
"There are a lot of consumers who operate on the belief of, 'well, if it isn't true, they couldn't say it.' But, that's really not the case," says Lichtenstein.
He says shoppers should be wary of stores that offer to match sale prices at other retailers, because research shows the stores that offer those guarantees can often charge higher prices.
The professor also warns that many retailers have ordered less inventory this shopping season, so some popular items might run out.
"Waiting until the last minute to buy that special item may be a little bit riskier strategy this year," he says.
At grocery stores, Professor Lichtenstein recommends "cherry picking" and stocking up on just those sale items from several different stores. He says this requires a little more time and research but can save shoppers a lot of money.
Coupons are also a great tool when used wisely. "For products you use, look for the coupon," he says. "If you'd be buying it anyway, look for the coupon. But, if you're not going to be using the item, don't get fooled."
The CU professor also says some online Web sites can be great tools for shoppers by comparing identical products at many different stores.
(Copyright KUSA*TV, All Rights Reserved)