Ahh, Black Friday. Time to camp out in front of stores at four in the morning, even though you’re still full to bursting with turkey. Time to get those elbows ready to shove people who are in between you and the hottest deals. Time to drink that coffee and put your game face on, because those deals certainly won’t last.
The biggest shopping day of the year (this year, November 27th, the Friday after Thanksgiving) can be a great opportunity to score some wonderful deals. However, it can also be a very overwhelming day, especially if you’re unprepared. So, to make sure Black Friday doesn’t leave you trampled to death without anything to show for it, I’ve provided a guide for you to follow. Here’s what you can do before and during Black Friday to increase your chances of success on America’s favorite shopping day.
If you’re planning on taking advantage of Black Friday sales, the best time to prepare is now. Here are some ways you can make sure you’re ready for the big day.
- Buy a Newspaper: check out the advertisements of local sales taking place on Black Friday. That way, you can get an idea of where you want to go and reduce that panicky, overwhelmed feeling. Also make sure to bring any ads with you to avoid arguments (especially before some of the disgruntled employees have had their morning coffee).
- Make a List, Check it Twice: make sure you have a list of the people you are shopping for, and also an idea of what you’d like to get them. Stick to this list as much as you can. It is your lifeline. It is the one thing you can hold on to in order to prevent a nasty bout of impulse shopping.
- Check Your Face(Book): many Black Friday-themed Facebook pages feature giveaways to fans. For example, the Black Friday page is planning a giveaway when it reaches 20,000 fans. Also, BFAds is offering $150 to the winner of their contest.
- Tweet Tweet: the most current information about Black Friday 2010 is on Twitter. Check out feeds like Blackfriday and Blackfriday_fm. You can also check out individual store feeds, like SearsDeals and BestBuy.
- Online Coupons: you can find these any day, but chances are that most retailers will release special coupons for Black Friday specifically. Search for coupons from your favorite retailers before you brave the crowds.
- Check Out Black Friday Pages: take a peek at sites specifically devoted to showcasing Black Friday deals. Here are just a few: Slick Deals, BlackFriday.info, and Black Friday @ GottaDeal.com.
- There’s an App for That: if you’ve got a smart phone, it can easily come to your aid on Black Friday. On the iPhone, you can download free apps like TGI Black Friday or ShopSavvy. On Android, there’s also a free app called Black Friday Survival Guide that brings Black Friday news and sales right to your phone.
- Familiarize Yourself With Store Policies: read up on store policies on price guarantees, returns, refunds and price matching. You’ll want to be aware if price matching, for example, is applicable on Black Friday prices.
- Night Owl Discounts: try shopping online in the pre-dawn hours of Black Friday. You can often times find “web only” deals as early as Thanksgiving Eve. Also, About.com says that “[m]any of the aggressive outlet malls and factory stores will be opening Thursday at midnight, with early bird promotions in hopes of capturing your dollars before the competition has opened.”
So you’ve done your research and have your ads in hand. Now what? Here are some tips for the big day:
- Leave the Credit and Debit Cards at Home: bring cash to make it impossible to deviate from your intended budget. (Of course, some would advise you to use credit cards and just be sure that you’re using the right ones to maximize cash back opportunities and rewards.)
- Dress for Success: if you’re going to be standing in line at 5am, make sure to dress comfortably and warmly. Layers are key, because once you get in the store, chances are all that bargain hunting will have you working up a sweat. Also be sure to wear shoes that you’ll be comfortable standing in all day.
- Sustenance: bring a few snacks and drinks to keep your blood-sugar levels up and to stay hydrated. This way, you’ll prevent yourself from popping over to the food court.
- Create a Game Plan: use all of your research to determine which stores you’d most like to hit. Which stores require you to be in line the earliest? Which stores feature deals all day and not just until 11am? Use all of this information to create your own Black Friday map that you can refer to throughout the day.
- Enlist a Friend: two people can typically hunt down bargains better than one. And if one of you needs a bathroom break while you’re waiting in those horrific lines, you’ll have a ready-made place holder.
- Shop Online: check to see if your favorite stores will make their Black Friday prices available online. Why beat back the crowds if you can get the same deals while you sip a hot beverage in your PJs at home?
Look for “Hidden” Items: Not Made of Money has some amusing advice:
I know it sounds crazy but people like to “hide” items ahead of time to ensure they will snag what they want come Black Friday. I’ve found the same thing to be true during Target’s clearance times. The most popular hiding places are in the bedding, housewares, and furniture departments. I once found an Oneida stainless steel flatware set (that had gone on clearance to 75% off) hidden between the boxes of bookshelves in the furniture department.
- Ask for Gift Receipts: you’ll want to have proof of purchase for the items you buy, especially if they are for someone else. If the recipient doesn’t want the gift, a gift receipt will help ensure a hassle-free return experience.
What are your best tips for braving the crowds on Black Friday? Will you be heading out to take advantage of the sales, or will you be sitting this one out? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments section below, and thanks for being a Tip Hero!
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