Today is not the last day you're going to offer discounts, retailers. You know it. We know it. So let's stop with the frantic emails and tweets and so forth. As I wrote in my Savvy Shopper column, discounting is in full effect this holiday season, but the approach is to make it seem exclusive (is anyone not the Gap's friends & family?) rather than to stage store-wide sales. But the "today only" and "last day for discounts!" declarations are just nonsense. I've gotten a last day discount from J. Crew every day for the last two weeks. We want the deals. We'll buy when we're ready. Cut out the games.
Meanwhile, some deadlines are for real, like shipping with Christmas delivery. The National Retail Federation reported today that for two thirds of retailers, Dec. 18 is last day to order with guaranteed delivery by Dec. 24 at no extra charge. But the best day this week to order online is Thursday, Dec. 17, the first ever Free Shipping Day. This effort is really gaining steam: more than 600 retailers, large and small, are participating.

I didn't buy a thing at the mall today, despite the amazing sales – or actually, because of them. The zipper pouch where I keep all of my coupons, discount vouchers and gift cards is literally overflowing. I've got 20 percent off of this, $30 off of that, $10 free when you spend $100, 25 percent off when you spend $50. Then you get to the stores and they've got 10 other promotions. It's all just too much. I couldn't figure out which discounts were better and which offers I could combine. But I didn't want to chance paying more than I should, so I just walked out. I figure, even if my discount cards expire, the store markdowns will only continue to improve.