NEW YORK ( TheStreet) - Hey shoppers! It's your favorite time of year. Sales are EVERYWHERE. From enticing window displays to unbeatable deals, everything is inviting you to buy. It's easy to get carried away. But, hey, at least you're helping the economy. If you're tempted to open your wallet, you're not alone. U.S. holiday spending is expected to increase 4.5% this year, according to recent research from FTI Consulting, which notes that consumer confidence is approximately 25% higher entering the 2012 holiday season than it was a year ago.
It just keeps getting easier. The shopping game forever changed with the advent of the Internet. Hello, impulse buys! And now there are mobile apps to help you find great items while you're on the go. Did you expect retailers to make it difficult for you? With so many spending options, making purchases can get complicated. How are you going to decide which shoes to buy? Don't worry, though - The Street is here to help you. These five mobile apps will help you find the best items, while saving money and time. And downloading these apps won't cost you a dime. They're all free!
Trying to find the lowest price for your choice item could have you seeing red. But don't fret. eBay's ( EBAY) RedLaser will help you. Know exactly what you want? Use the app to scan barcodes. It will tell you where to find the cheapest price. I tried scanning my Beanie Baby. Those still exist, by the way. It looks like you can get Floppity the Bunny for 99 cents these days. (At 16 years old, I guess she's not a baby anymore). Even if you don't have the barcode handy, RedLaser can help you find what to buy. Using the voice-activated search function, I still found Floppity! Possibly the best feature of this app is that it stores your loyalty cards. Scan it so you don't have to bring that CVS ( CVS) card everywhere. Don't let that precious wallet space go to waste. RedLaser is a badly kept secret. As of October, it had been downloaded 22 million times! The free app is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, but requires iOS 5.0 or later. It's also available on Google's ( GOOG) Android operating system as well.
Decide Shopping & Price Predictor
Even if you find the best deal today, tomorrow might be the better time to buy. Decide will help you make that decision. Should I buy an Apple ( AAPL) iPad Mini? Decide's Shopping & Price Predictor app tells me to wait! Alongside its price graph, the app tells me with 94% confidence that the price will drop within two weeks. (If only it could give me stock advice). But how does it know? The app analyzes price fluctuations while aggregating news and rumors. This strategy is less than precise, but it could save you a bit of money from time to time. There are no guarantees. Although it claims to have a "crystal ball," Decide will not refund you for bad suggestions. Use Decide to track pricing expectations for electronics and appliances. It says to hold off on that Sunpentown air conditioner. Its cost is cooling (sorry, I couldn't resist!). The free app is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, but requires iOS 4.3 or later.
There are so many great deals online, but sometimes it's best to try things on. (Warning. That size zero isn't the same everywhere). Use the Foursquare-powered SaleSorter, to find which brick-and-mortar stores are offering the best buys. This app tells me things are 50% off at the nearest Lane Bryant. If they're not a good fit for you, there's 60% off at The Gap ( GPS) around the corner. If you're too busy to make it there today, check the "notify" box on your favorite stores. SaleSorter will tell you when they're offering discounts again. Use technology to help you shop the old way. The free app is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, but requires iOS 5.1 or later.
Just window shopping? You'll get a kick out of this. Even if you don't buy anything, Shopkick will reward you for just stopping by. Earn "kicks," or points, by walking into Best Buy ( BBY). Making purchases will get you more. If you accumulate enough of them, that TV will be free. Shopkick even offers gift certificates for Tiffany & Co. ( TIF). But that's at 75,000 kicks, which would involve you walking in and out American Eagle Outfitters ( AEO) 3,750 times. Talk about a kickback. The free app is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, but requires iOS 4.3 or later. It's available for Android as well.
Now that you've made all those purchases, it's time to show them off! Pose is a social media app that allows you to showcase your style. Those Louboutins might hide behind your desk all day, but with Pose, your friends will still get to see them. Snap a photo and show your followers what you're wearing. If they like it, they'll click on the heart to show you the love. They can also use the app to buy your style. Imitation is the best form of flattery, right? If you're unsure about your fashion choices, use Pose to test your outfit before wearing it out. Once your inbox is filled with compliments, your confidence will glow brighter than your fluorescent gown. The free app is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, but requires iOS 5.0 or later. It is available for Android as well. --Written by Katie Roof in New York.