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Avoid crowds by shopping smart

Early morning crowds on Black Friday were huge, but early morning shopping during the rest of the holiday season is actually one of the best times to shop.

Christmas shopping.

Some love it and some hate it. Regardless, it's expected that crowds will be part of the equation at some point during the holiday season. Avoiding the biggest crowds is often the goal of many holiday shoppers.

Today most shoppers are looking to save time or money ... or both. They often wonder what are the best times to shop to realize the best deals and avoid the crowds. While Black Friday may have offered low-low prices, crowds are definitely in abundance, with thousands of people anxious to score savings. However, smaller crowds can be found as many retailers offer similar prices in the weeks following Thanksgiving.

Shoppers who want to avoid crowds as a main priority will want to shop weekday mornings. If it is possible to take off a day in December to set aside for shopping, one should consider it. Just avoid the hours of 11 to 2. People who are at work may spend their lunch hours catching up on shopping. While weekday shopping may not offer the sales that take place on the weekends, the stores will certainly be less crowded.

Shoppers who know they will be giving gifts after the Christmas holiday, be it to distant relatives or faraway friends, can take advantage of shopping after Dec. 25. This can be a great opportunity to save a lot of money on purchases, as many items are deeply discounted after Christmas. Keep in mind, though, that crowds still may be large because of people making returns or cashing in on gift cards.

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