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recipe-organizersThe internet is known for great deals – especially for those armed with the savvy and strategies to make the most of every dollar spent.

As holiday shopping season approaches, all eyes turn to the consumer in the slowing economy. Will they be shopping this holiday season? Only time will tell. But one thing’s for sure, the disappointing start to the shopping season is already sending holiday-ready retailers scurrying to attract customers through early sales and enticing offers.

Nowhere is this more apparent than the internet, where customers can comparison shop to their heart’s content. The savviest shoppers, armed with these six budget-stretching secrets of online bargain hunters, are poised to make the most of every dollar spent. They just might remember the 2008 holidays as the Year of Great Deals.

1. Shop Small and Save the Tax: Most small internet retailers are physically located in only one state, and thus required to collect sales tax only on sales within that state – meaning savings for the rest. Find sales tax information on a website’s customer service or shipping page.

2. Load Up on Flat-Rate and Free-Shipping Offers: If you’ve found the perfect gift on a website offering flat-rate or free shipping, spend a few extra minutes browsing for others on your gift list. Anything you can add to an order without additional shipping is money saved.

3. Buy in Bulk: Popular kitchen items such as wine glasses and drinkware are always welcome gifts. For the bargain hunter, these can be purchased in bulk at discounted prices then divvied up among those on your gift list. For great finds at bulk prices, look for companies that cater to restaurant and hotels — like the Bulk Foodservice Drinkware Listings on Amazon

4. Sign Up for Email Specials: For real savings opportunities — from discount coupons to the very best shipping offers — sign up to receive email updates. The email list is essentially an online customer appreciation program, and recipients almost always get the best offers.

5. Search for Coupons: If you find a great website but see no advertised deals, do a Google search for the store name and the word “coupon.” Some online stores publish coupons which can be found on sites and apps — my current fave is RetailMeNot.com. which also has an excellent phone app.

Savvy shoppers also share coupon codes on blogs and in chat rooms — and though some shared coupon codes may have expired, it’s still worth a search.

6. Shop Early: Avoid backorders, rush shipping and delivery surprises – all potential budget-busters – by shopping early. With so many good deals already out there, smart shoppers can minimize holiday stress and sidestep frustrating shipping or stock issues by getting their shopping done before the holiday crunch.

The internet is known for great deals, and this year’s holiday shopping will be no exception – especially for those armed with the savvy and strategies to make the most of every dollar spent.