Are you hoping to catch those big sales this holiday shopping season and save lots of money on some big-ticket items? Before you head out to the mall or scope out those online retailers, there are some secrets you need to know to help you save money, time, your sanity, and most importantly, to stay safe.    

Kendrick Shope is an international sales expert, the CEO and creator of the Authentic Selling process and was named the top sales expert to follow by Twitter in 2015 and 2016. She even sat down with Steve Harvey recently and gave him a few pointers on how to be a better salesperson.

Kendrick’s eight tips for consumers this holiday shopping season:

• Be cautious of those “doorbuster” items: There’s always that one doorbuster item that seems like the price is too good to be true. The truth is, there’s a reason for that. It’s usually an item that either isn’t selling well, is plagued with problems or doesn’t live up to its hype. The allure of snatching up an unbelievable deal might be more of a headache than it’s worth in the long run.

• Read the fine print: When that flat screen TV is advertised for $500 off, read the fine print. Is it limited to the first 20 customers through the door? Is it only a special offer from 4 am to 5 am? There are big savings on Black Friday and throughout the holiday season, but the really deep discounts usually are more limited than people realize.

• Get a barcode scanner on your Smart Phone and use price-comparison websites: Let’s say you’re in Walmart and see a blender you want to gift someone. How do you know if you’re getting the best price of all the major retailers? Install an app that scans the barcode and tells you the price at all other retailers. There are many apps you can download such as RedLaser, ShopSavvy and Flipp. Also, don’t forget about price-comparison Internet shopping sites like

• Know the return policy: Many holiday season special priced items don’t come with the same return policy as items bought the rest of the year. In fact, some of the bigger sale items might be an “all sales final” or have a very limited window for returns. Make sure you know what you’re getting into. Nonetheless, always give a gift receipt when the purchase is for someone else.

• Get social and connected on email: Make sure you are following your favorite retailers on social media and that you’ve signed up for email alerts. These stores are always looking to grow their following and increase their fan base. In exchange, some of them will let you in on secret sales taking place or they might extend special coupon codes that nobody else will know except their social media followers and those who opt into receive emails. This year, Facebook and Twitter are still popular, and don’t forget about Instagram.

• It’s much more than just Black Friday: It used to be if you wanted the best deal you had to fight it out with other shoppers the day after Thanksgiving. But it’s a different game now. While Black Friday is still big for deals, don’t forget about Cyber Monday. Also, many retailers run big weeklong sales after Thanksgiving, while others start them a week or two before. Consumers have to do their research to find the best deals.

• Shop safe: Tis the season for giving, but cybercriminals are lurking and just waiting to grab hold of your credit card information. When shopping online, make sure you are connected to a secured wi-fi connection. Also, make sure the website address begins with https:// instead of the standard http:// Finally, cybercriminals have created clone websites of the originals that look identical but are off by a single letter in the address. Double check the website address to make sure you are where you want to be. The bottom line: use caution when shopping online.

• Don’t bite off more than you can chew: When it comes to holiday shopping, the best advice is to use a little common sense and don’t spend more than you have. Retailers are going to do everything they can to lure you in, so budget a certain amount for each person you have to buy for and stick to it. Remember, the credit card bill is going to come next month and you want to be able to comfortably pay it off and not go into debt.