Buy now, pay later? Layaway apps see triple-digit growth amid pandemic shopping

Some of the country’s biggest retailers are resurrecting a modern version of a long-retired payment option similar to layaway or rent-to-pay — buy now, pay later.

With over 11 million people still unemployed due to the pandemic, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Sephora, Target and Amazon are some of the hundreds of retailers who are offering shoppers a way to parse out interest-free payments debited from a bank account over time for holiday gifts instead of forcing consumers to pay with high-interest credit cards.

“The millennials and Gen Z generation saw their parents go through an immense amount of hardship [during the financial crisis] where the American consumer was over-leveraged,” Rafe Petkovic, chief revenue officer of Columbus, Ohio-based payment solutions company Klarna, told NBC News. “Today’s consumers are certainly wising up, and that has been a significant acceleration in the market opportunity here today.”

Already, consumers have used their money differently from the generation that survived the Great Recession. In the first three months of 2020, consumers improved their average credit scores and decreased delinquencies across all debt, according to a September analysis by Experian credit-reporting agency. However, in 2008, going into the recession, consumer debt spiked by 4 percent, credit scores went up by just two points and delinquencies were reduced at a slower rate than today’s borrowers.

Over Black Friday weekend, one company said it processed five times more transactions than in its first four years of operation combined.

“Though the current recession’s initial three months of consumer debt and credit data paint a positive picture of consumer finances, unemployment has spiked to historic highs in 2020,” the bureau reported. “As income declines and stimulus aid continues to lapse, consumers’ finances may change as people seek ways to cover their expenses.”

Before the pandemic, the digitally native younger generations were already quickly adopting “point-of-sale” loans from companies such as Affirm, Afterpay, Klarna and Quadpay. But over the course of the pandemic-induced recession, these payment options have skyrocketed with the rise in e-commerce and the willingness of retailers to work with customers, David Bassuk, a managing director with AlixPartners, told NBC News.

Consumer downloads of Klarna are up over 106 percent from last year, Petkovic said. In the first month of the pandemic, Affirm saw a 163 percent increase in home fitness sales, and home office sales grew 200 percent. Over Black Friday weekend, Afterpay said it saw a 186 percent increase in sales, while Klarna said it processed five times more transactions over the weekend than in all the first four years of operation combined.

“We think this is just the start of more disruption to come,” Petkovic told NBC News.

The loans work like this: Retailers pay a transaction fee on every sale, and shoppers pay their balance over time with their debit account. Affirm, which charges interest rates between 10 and 30 percent, report to one credit bureau. But Klarna, Quadpay and Afterpay do not. Each company charges a late payment fee that ranges from $35

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Help Rock’N Fish Manhattan Beach Staff; Buy A Holiday Gift Card

MANHATTAN BEACH, CA — To help the restaurant staff they just laid off due to the new ban on outdoor dining in Los Angeles County, Rock’n Fish is giving back 50% of its gift card sales purchased for at least $100 to laid off employees for the next two weeks.

“I was devastated to have to lay off my entire team right before the holidays,” said Owner Michael Zislis. “My employees here are like family. I need to do something that gives back and I think the Manhattan Beach community wants to do the same.”

The longtime downtown Manhattan Beach restaurant was celebrating its 20th Anniversary during the month of November, when the new county mandate, banning outdoor dining beginning Thursday, Nov. 26, came down.

Rock’N Fish is hoping to be able to donate over at least $500 to each employee with this program. To purchase a gift card, please visit mb.rocknfish.com and click on the “Gift Cards” heading.

Wrote Rock’N Fish on its social media outlets yesterday [Tuesday, Dec. 1]: “SOS: SAVE OUR STAFF! Purchase an eGift Card of $100 or more before December 14th and 50% of your purchase will go directly back to our staff who have been laid off during this difficult time. Give back to your Rock’N Fish family, while giving the gift of Manhattan Beach’s Favorite Steak & Seafood Restaurant! Your support and love means the world to us and we want to make sure our amazing staff is taken care of during this time. Gift Cards can be purchased online only at this time.”

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Best E-Gift Cards to Buy Send Online 2020

Traditionally speaking, giving a gift card or chunk of cash as a holiday gift gets a rap, but it doesn’t have to be a last-minute gift that looks like you put zero thought into it at all whatsoever. Given strict social distancing limitations in place this year, many of us will be celebrating the holidays with our loved ones virtually, which means giving e-gifts over the Internet is more acceptable than ever before. Besides, in all reality, gift cards allow the giftee in question to get whatever they want, so you don’t have to do the guesswork to try to figure it out. However, shipping gift cards in the mail is risky—sadly, they’re often stolen en route.

Look, I’ll admit it—I’ve definitely been one to scurry into the nearest grocery store to pick out a last-minute (and super generic) gift card on my way to Christmas gift exchanges with my family in the past (I mean, I highly doubt my grandmother wanted a gift card to Home Depot, but hey, that’s all that was left) but now, it’s so darn easy to buy and send thoughtful e-cards online from stores and services that the giftee in question will actually love—and it takes even less time than sprinting to the CVS around the block and checking out IRL. Scroll through below to check out some of the best last-minute e-gift cards you can buy and send online without looking like a massive procrastinator.

Our mission at STYLECASTER is to bring style to the people, and we only feature products we think you’ll love as much as we do. Please note that if you purchase something by clicking on a link within this story, we may receive a small commission of the sale.

gifts cards personalized online

Courtesy of GiftCards.com

Personalized E-Gift Cards

Okay, so gift cards often get a bad rap when it comes to the “thoughtful gifts” category, but when you personalize with a chic design or a special photo that the giftee will love, that’s an entirely different story.

STYLECASTER | Best E Gift Cards

Courtesy of Postmates.

Postmates E-Gift Card

The perfect gift for anyone who loves to eat (and support local restaurants) but isn’t exactly an expert in the kitchen.

STYLECASTER | Best E-gift cards 2020

Courtesy of Winc.

Winc E-Gift Card

If all “they want for Christmas is booze” consider gifting them with a Winc e-gift card, which will allow them to stock up on premium, yet affordable wine or sign up for their subscription service.

STYLECASTER | Best E-Gift Cards 2020

Courtesy of Etsy.

Etsy E-Gift Card

There are very few people I know who don’t love to score a unique, vintage, or hand-made find on Etsy, and this email-able gift card is the perfect way to let them pick out something special for themselves.

Little Fires Everywhere

Courtesy of Hulu.

Hulu E-Gift Card

Give the gift of movies and television with a Hulu gift card—available in amounts of $25 to $100. From Little Fires Everywhere to the latest episodes of The Masked Singer, there’s no shortage of amazing content on the streaming service. Plus, you can let the

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36 Best Cyber Monday Beauty Deals to Buy in Bulk in 2020

As we all hunker down inside this year, why not use this time as an opportunity to peruse the best Cyber Monday beauty deals and upgrade your vanity with a stockpile of cultish products that will see you through the winter?

There are face mists, toning devices, and rich creams for a prolonged at-home spa ritual. Luckily, celebrity facialist Joanna Vargas’s sheet masks seem less extravagant and more essential when purchased online in bulk (as does a luxurious YSL lipstick set, complete with one shiny shade for every holiday mood—or Zoom room).

After months of cutting back—or skipping out entirely—on our salon visits, hair will get some much-needed TLC with a dollop of Christophe Robin’s beloved prickly pear seed mask; posttreatment, spritz on Sachajuan’s saltwater mist for a sensory reminder of summer’s lazy days all year long.

As for Byredo’s ultrachic rinse-free hand wash? One for your bag, one for the pocket, and one for good measure. 

Here, the 28 best Cyber Monday beauty deals to stock up on now. 

Skin-Care Sales

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Augustinus Bader The Rich Cream

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Joanna Vargas Euphoria Face Mask 5 pack

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Omorovicza Queen of Hungary Mist

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African Botanics Pure Marula Oil

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Tata Harper Clarifying Cleanser blemish & oil control face wash

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Murad Retinol Youth Renewal night cream

Skin-Care Tools Sales

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NuFace Trinity Facial Toning Device

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Angela Caglia La Vie en Rose Face Roller

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Naturopathica facial cleansing brush

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Nurse Jamie Uplift Massaging Beauty Roller

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Ora Deluxe Microneedle Dermal Roller

Makeup Sales

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YSL Beauty Rouge Volupté Shine Holiday Set

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RMS Beauty Luminizer Gift Set

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Pat McGrath Xtreme Precision Eye Duo

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Ilia Super Serum Skin Tint SPF 40

Body-Care Sales

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Byredo Rinse-Free Hand Wash

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Nécessaire The Body Wash

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Herbivore Botanicals Coconut Milk Bath Soak

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Aromatherapy Associates De-Stress Mind bath & shower oil

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Hair-Care Sales

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Christophe Robin Regenerating Mask with Rare Prickly Pear Seed Oil

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Leonor Greyl Huile Secret de Beaute Organic Oil For Hair & Body

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Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Dry Shampoo

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Act + Acre Hair Conditioner

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Crown Affair The Comb No. 001

Wellness Sales 

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This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray

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The Beauty Chef Hydration Inner Beauty Boost

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Aesop Catherine Oil Burner Blend

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Grown Alchemist Detox Serum Antioxidant+ 3 Complex

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10 Of The Best ‘Buy Now, Travel Later’ Deals

Planning future travel, whether that’s in a few weeks or a few months, is part of the enjoyment for many people. The excitement and anticipation of an upcoming trip can be motivating at work or for kids in school. Travel companies have been working especially hard to encourage travel planning, which also helps to support industry jobs in the process.

Robots, road trips, and hygiene and wellness managers will continue to be part of travel in 2021 as hotels and airlines work hard to reassure travelers that the experience is safe.

To encourage future travel, these companies are providing flexible travel policies and extra incentive to pay for travel now regardless of when you actually take the trip. The anticipation and excitement of a future trip may be the ideal gift for the holidays this year.

The Leading Hotels of the World Stay It Forward certificates

Stay It Forward certificates pack in extra value at a time when hotels, and their employees, may need it most. Hotels are donating 100 percent of the funds from these prepaid certificates to employees facing financial hardships or charities in their communities.

Valid through 2022, the $1,500 certificates include a two-night stay at double occupancy, special onsite experience (like wine blending in Argentina or behind-the-scenes tours of the kitchen at The Ritz London), a year-long membership in the Leaders Club program (normally $175 per year), and 1,500 Leaders Club points (a free night starts at 3,000 points). Participating hotels include Sun Gardens Dubrovnik, Croatia; Paradisus Los Cabos, Mexico; and The Vines Resort & Spa in Mendoza, Argentina.

Six Senses Plan Now, Play Later certificates

Available for purchase between now and Dec. 20, these prepaid certificates come with an additional 20 percent credit that can be used on-property for activities, food and beverage, or spa. Six Senses’ Plan Now, Play Later certificates are valid for three years from the date of purchase at participating resorts around the world. Travelers can choose the amount they want to purchase, starting at $1,000, and the specific property where they plan to use it. Six Senses guests are eligible to earn points in the IHG Rewards Club program, too, adding even more value to these certificates.

Montage Hotels & Resorts Spirit of Now offer

The Montage Hotels & Resorts group is offering a Spirit of Now package that includes a $100 resort credit for each night reserved (as much as $300 for certain suite and residence reservations) in advance and a complimentary upgrade, based upon availability, at check-in. For those that

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The Best Beauty Tools To Buy On Sale This Black Friday

One of the biggest lessons we learned this year was the value of DIY beauty. As the pandemic created distance between all of us and our favorite beauty professionals, our only option was to recreate spa treatments in our own bathrooms. And the good news? Eight months in, most of us are officially masters in the art of the at-home facial, manicure, and blowout. The better news? Thanks to Black Friday sales on beauty tools, we’re about to become even more masterful.

As the year comes to an end, it’s the perfect time to further embrace your new level of beauty expertise with some of the highest-tech products out there—all of which you can score for majorly discounted prices in honor of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Scroll through for the best Black Friday beauty tools for hair, skin, and nails, and get ready to complete your bathroom’s transition to a full-blown at-home spa.

Photo: Beautybio

Make your nightly routine feel like a trip to the spa with this microneedling tool, which works to create micro-tears in your skin that stimulate collagen and allow for deeper penetration of your products (including the nightly peptide serum that’s included with it). Right now, it’s on sale for nearly 50-percent off of its regular retail value.

Shop now: BeautyBio Metallic Rose Gold GloPRO Tool with Nightly Peptide Serum, $168 ($300 value)

Photo: Dermaflash

Upgrade your skincare routine with this techy spatula, which helps de-gunk your pores and infuse serum more deeply into your complexion. From November 25 through November 30, it can be yours for 15 percent off of the usual price.

Shop now: Dermapore Pore Extractor and Serum Infuser, $84 ($99 value)

Photo: iHome

This super-smart mirror connects directly to your phone, which means you can blast your favorite getting ready playlist while you swipe on your mascara. It also offers LED lights and 10 times magnification for liquid eyeliner done right.

Shop now: iHome Mirror with Bluetooth Audio, $50 ($70 value) 

Photo: Joanna Vargas

Joanna Vargas is offering tiered discounts on her site from November 25 through December 1, (15 percent off of purchases $75-plus with code GLOW15; 20 percent off of purchases $150-plus with code GLOW20; 25 percent off of purchases $300-plus with code GLOW25; and 30 percent off of purchases $600-plus with code GLOW30), which means you can score this multi-use wand at a major discount. It works to reduce puffiness and smooth and soften skin right at your very own sink.

Shop now: Joanna Vargas Magic Glow Wand, $228 ($285 value)

Photo: Nuface

Finally, you can find out why everyone loves this cult-fave microcurrent device with a 25 percent discount from November, 24 to 30 with the code SHARETHELOVE.

Shop now: NuFace Mini Break The Ice Collection – Platinum, $135 ($180 value)

Photo: Meejee

Up your cleansing game with this gentle silicone exfoliator. From November 20 through December 1, the brand is offering tiered discounts that include 30 percent off of purchases of $50 or more, 35 percent

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5 Strong Buy Stocks Gift-Wrapped for the Holidays

It’s that time of year again. It’s time to put aside whatever has been bothering us all through the year to focus instead on family, friends, gifts, treats and what not. It’s time to reward ourselves!

So what if it has been a particularly difficult year? So what if the pandemic took us by surprise, throwing our health and finances into chaos? Our determination to deal with the unknowns has yielded a couple of effective vaccines (and one not so effective). But there are numerous others in the works and people are talking about broad availability before too long.

And when that happens, the weakest amongst us, the ones that haven’t even been able to access a stimulus check for want of connectivity, will all be able to face the day with confidence. Overall, we’ve been doing the best we can to earn our pay checks, whether that meant setting up a home office, or getting back to work with masks and other safety protocols. It’s our efforts that have pulled the economy out of the depression.

And it’s happening right now. The numbers are pouring in from all quarters, and they’re overwhelmingly positive, except in a few areas.   

So it’s a great time to buy stocks, especially if they’re ranked #1 (Strong Buy) by Zacks, have a Zacks Value-Growth-Momentum (VGM) Score of A, are plays on happening industries, have attractive long-term growth prospects, are seeing their estimates going up and are paying a regular dividend. Doubly so, if they’re also going cheap.

So let’s uncover-

Avnet, Inc. AVT

One of the world’s largest distributors of electronic components and computer products, Avnet belongs to the Electronics – Parts Distribution industry, which is the top 1% of Zacks ranked industries. And as you probably know, stocks in the top 50% of Zacks-classified industries outperform the bottom 50% by a factor of 2 to 1. Also, about half of a stocks appreciation is tied to the group it’s in. So Avnet clearly looks good on this count.

Its fiscal 2021 (ending June) and 2022 earnings estimates are up 24 cents (15.2%) and 34 cents (12.8%), respectively in the last 30 days.

Avnet’s long-term growth rate estimate of 18.99% and dividend yield of 2.76% are other positives worth considering.

The shares are down 28.2% so far this year, not having recovered from the pandemic. Since the forward P/E of 14.09X is well below the median value of 16.06X over the past year, there’s every reason for appreciation.

Rush Enterprises, Inc. RUSHA

Rush Enterprises operates the largest network of Peterbilt heavy-duty truck dealerships in North America and John Deere construction equipment dealerships in Texas and Michigan. Its being part of the very attractive Automotive – Retail and Whole Sales industry (top 3%) means that there is room for notable appreciation in the company’s shares.

Its fiscal 2020 and 2021 earnings estimates are up 27 cents (17.1%) and 20 cents (9.9%), respectively in the last 30 days.

Its estimated long-term growth rate of 15.00% and

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‘Buy Local’ Argument Wrong on How Business and Money Works

A patron holds an iced beverage at a Starbucks coffee store in Pasadena, Calif., July 25, 2013. (Mario Anzuoni/Reuters)

This holiday season, ignore the ‘buy-small/buy-local’ nonsense.

It’s the boss-bossiest time of the year, when Americans getting ready to open up their wallets to buy Christmas presents are lectured by illiterate halfwits about where and how to spend their money. The usual demands: Buy local, or buy from small businesses.

This is pure nonsense, and you should feel free to ignore it.

The “buy local” people insist that if you choose, say, your locally owned coffee shop over Starbucks, then the money you spend there will somehow stay in the community, hanging around and providing additional economic benefits. But that isn’t how money works: Most businesses spend most of what they take in and then put the rest in the bank, where it becomes global capital.

And local businesses do not generally spend their money locally — they can’t. I like my local coffee shop, and I am pretty sure that it does not buy its coffee locally, because I do not live in Colombia or Brazil or Vietnam, and it doesn’t buy its to-go cups from a local maker, since it is not in the shadow of a paper-goods factory, etc. Its lease is probably held by an out-of-town entity, along with its loans. Its espresso machine probably came from Italy or Germany, maybe Hong Kong.

For many businesses, the largest expense is personnel. Those local coffee-shop employees aren’t any more likely to spend their income locally than anybody else is, because they will want things like shoes and meat and Netflix rentals that are not made locally — but, to the extent that they do spend that income locally, they are about as likely to do so as a Starbucks employee is. For that matter, you probably have more Starbucks and Amazon shareholders in your neighborhood than you do independent coffee-shop proprietors or owners of small local stores. Shareholders are your neighbors, too.

But even if money did work the way the boobs say it does, money isn’t wealth — it is a record-keeping system that enables easy exchange and helps us to store value. What makes our communities, our country, and our species more prosperous isn’t trying to fence in money locally through campaigns of unsolicited advice, but the division of labor and specialization, which allows us to produce more with fewer resources. Sometimes, that favors big businesses, although many big businesses are in effect something more like a big network of smaller businesses: There aren’t a lot of mom-and-pop automobile companies, but General Motors doesn’t make most of the components that go into a Corvette — smaller companies do. There’s room in the market for both my local coffee shop and Starbucks for the same reason there’s room in the market for both Burger King and the French Laundry.

(I think the world would have been less mad at California governor Gavin Newsom if he

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Don’t buy phones or other tech as a gift without reading this first

Black Friday is here, and that means it’s time to start saving money when you’re shopping for holiday gifts. With the holidays getting closer, time is running out to think over exactly what you’re going to give to that special someone or distant relative. But before you make that decision, keep in mind that tech gifts can be the same as giving someone a surprise puppy or kitten — just without the mess to clean up after. 



a pink bow tie: A shiny iPhone 12 makes for a great gift, but you should do some research before buying it for someone else. Angela Lang/CNET


© Provided by CNET
A shiny iPhone 12 makes for a great gift, but you should do some research before buying it for someone else. Angela Lang/CNET



The Echo Show 5 could make for a great gift, but not for everyone. 


© QVC

The Echo Show 5 could make for a great gift, but not for everyone. 


Gadgets can be personal, with a mess of unintended consequences, like saddling someone with the cost of buying extra gear, landing them with a monthly subscription or exposing their privacy in a way that makes them uncomfortable.

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New phoneslaptopssmart speakers and other electronic devices can make a great present, since these devices are a means to work, play, communicate with friends or, with a gadget like a Kindle or game console, temporarily escape. They add value to a person’s life.

But gifter, beware. Remember that privacy, security and compatibility issues will go a long way in helping you make sound decisions as you shop for new phones and other gadgets . Let’s take a closer look at some best practices you should keep in mind. 

Read more: Best places to sell your used electronics   

Watch out for extras someone else will have to buy

No matter what type of device you end up buying as a gift, keep any extra accessories it may require in mind. Ask yourself — or the salesperson — if the device is ready to use right out of the box. 

If you purchase some color-changing bulbs, do they require a hub to get them to work? If it’s a phone or tablet, does it make sense to also give a case, or to let your recipient pick one out later? Many phones have ditched the headphone jack, so a dongle to go from a USB-C or Lightning plug to a 3.5mm audio connection may be needed.

More examples to heed: For a Roomba, extra brushes, filters or virtual barriers are going to be items your loved one will eventually need. Odds are, if you gift a smart speaker, which also doubles as a voice-activated speaker for streaming music, a gift card for a subscription to Spotify or Pandora will be appreciated. 

Another aspect to consider is if they’ll need to replace stuff they already have. Maybe that new phone requires a different kind of charging cable than what they already use. It may not be your responsibility to replace that, but be aware that your gift could have ripple effects.



Dongles are sometimes a necessary evil. Sarah Tew/CNET


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Dongles are sometimes a necessary evil. Sarah Tew/CNET

Pay attention to

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What to buy for the readers on your shopping list

As we wind our way to the end of this most unusual year, we turn our minds toward the people we love and try to find gifts that show them how much we care. Books are always the perfect gift but perhaps especially this year, as we make our way in a winter more solitary than most. As always, we encourage you to seek out your local independent bookstore for your shopping needs; now more than ever, they appreciate our business.

For those who love their furry family members

A trio of books that put pets front and center caught our eye this year. For those who love dogs, there is the gorgeous and simply titled “Dogs,” a photography book by legendary pet photographer Walter Chandoha featuring canine subjects in the city, in the country, and in the photography studio. A coffee table book to delight the doggish.

If felines are more your recipient’s cup of tea, check out “A Cat’s Tale,” by Baba the Cat as told to Paul Koudounaris, an art historian and no slouch as an artist himself. Lavishly illustrated with truly astonishing photos of Baba in historical costume, this is a surprisingly hefty work of history as well as a visual delight.

When it comes to pure whimsy, what is better than a guinea pig? Check out “A Guinea Pig Night Before Christmas” — a perfect, petite volume for read-along with the rodent fans in your household.

For your friend with exquisite taste in tipples

Looking for a golden glow on a snowy night? No alcoholic spirit is as soulful as bourbon, that most American of liquors. Wright Thompson, best known for his long-form sports journalism, digs deep into the drink’s Southern roots in “Pappyland: A Story of Family, Fine Bourbon, and the Things That Last.” In tracing the story of Pappy Van Winkle, Thompson meditates on more than sour mash, unspooling a tale about history and nostalgia, myth and legend.

For the person who wants to unlock their thoughts

Any blank book or journal can be a place for aspiring writers to place their thoughts, but if you’re looking for a series of prompts about life, love, and self-discovery, you can’t do better than “Journey: Follow Your Dreams and Live Your Destiny,” by Paulo Coelho (“The Alchemist”). Peppered with quotes from Coelho’s beloved works, each page offers an opportunity for reflection and expression.

For the brave girls and women you love

One of the classic characters in children’s literature, Ramona Quimby has been with us since Beverly Cleary first published “Beezus and Ramona” in 1955. Ever since, books featuring Ramona and her family have been beloved by children and parents alike. Just as several generations of readers have fallen under their sway, so have several successive illustrators. In “The Art of Ramona Quimby” by Anna Katz, we can see — and read — the evolution of this iconic girl.

“Guerrilla Girls: The Art of Behaving Badly” will appeal to some of those grown-up Ramonas and

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