The countdown has begun-- 8 shopping days left! We're not quite down to the wire... but close! Consumer Reports has some helpful tips for those racing from store to store in search of the perfect presents.

According to the latest Consumer Reports poll, just 15 percent of shoppers finish buying holiday gifts by early December. Over a quarter expect to continue shopping until December 23 or later, including 10 percent who expect to finish on Christmas Eve, and 5 percent who don't expect to finish until after the holidays. If you fall into this category, it's hardly "last minute" for you, but that doesn't mean you can't take advantage of these tips.

* Check return policies. Although it seems like a no brainer, 46 percent of shoppers who buy in- stores actually don’t bother to check the retailer’s return policy before making a purchase.

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