1. Create a Game Plan
Black Friday is not a day for window shopping. It’s a hardcore shopping experience, and if you don’t make a plan, you could get lost in the shuffle. Retailers are famous for advertising teaser deals, also known as Black Friday doorbusters, to get you in the door and then making a bundle off other items in their inventory. These instances are by design. Know what you want ahead of time, stay focused, and only purchase items you need.
While paper ads for Black Friday sales usually come out on Thanksgiving, most ads are actually available online weeks prior to the event. You can find ad scans and deal roundups on sites such as (BFads.net)[BFads.net] and (BlackFriday.com)[BlackFriday.com], where you can search by store and item. Look through the ads for each store and start prioritizing your purchases. Note the stores’ hours of operation and specific sale hours that could affect a product’s priority. For instance, if a particular store offers deep discounts only until 6am, the products from that store should be prioritized over stores that offers deep discounts all day.
Also, keep in mind that high-demand purchases (such as game consoles) may be limited, so they should receive higher priority. Finally, prioritize purchases within each store. If you need to grab three or four items, number the products in order of importance.
2. Start Your Shopping Early
If you feel the need to get off the couch on Thanksgiving evening, go shopping! In years past, I just relaxed at home after enjoying a day of eating. But now, with many retailers opening on Thanksgiving night, I can capitalize on great deals and avoid the long lines. Plus, many Black Friday discounts will be in effect on Thanksgiving night.
3. Check Online
Before you head to the stores, always compare your in-store deals to online deals. While Cyber Monday technically doesn’t start until the Monday after Thanksgiving, many online retailers kick off sales early. You may find better prices online that negate the need to fight Black Friday crowds. Just be sure to factor shipping costs and retailer ratings into your online purchases to ensure that you’re getting a great deal from a trustworthy source.
4. Download Apps
By downloading the right smartphone shopping apps, you can check prices and track down friends when you get separated. Here are some of my favorite free shopping apps that I use on Black Friday:
ShopSavvy: With ShopSavvy, all you do is scan the barcode on any item and instantly compare the price to prices offered online and at nearby stores. It gives you peace of mind that you’re getting the best price available on any given product. Available on iOS and Android Black Friday App: If you don’t want to tote ads from store to store, the Black Friday app allows you to fit them in your pocket. The app includes all the Black Friday ads, with sale hours and store information. This comes in handy if you need to price match – some stores match competitor pricing if you have the ad to prove the lower price. Available on iOS and Android Nifti: If you’re wondering if that flat screen TV really is a good deal, Nifti tracks prices based on historical sales data. It can tell you if the Black Friday price is really worth it, or whether you can look forward to a deeper discount later in the season. Available on iOS
5. Beware the Extended Warranty
To compensate for their reduced profit margins, retailers will be determined to get you to buy the extended warranty for any product that you purchase on Black Friday. Keep in mind, however, that many credit cards extend the manufacturer’s warranty for one year for free, and the extended warranties offered by retailers are usually rife with exclusions and restrictions.
If you consider buying an extended warranty, make sure you know exactly what you are getting first. You do not want to duplicate coverage you already have via a credit card.
6. Always Get a Gift Receipt
As much as you might think you have chosen the perfect gift for everyone on your list, sometimes it just doesn’t turn out that way. Always ask for a gift receipt and include it with the gift. This will give the recipient the option to easily return anything he or she may not want.
7. Bring a Friend
Shopping with friends makes Black Friday more fun, teamwork can also help you score big deals. Together you can cover more ground and hit up different areas of each store before meeting back at the cash register – and this improves your chances of nabbing every item on your list. When I go Black Friday shopping with my friends, we check our lists together and split up the shopping to help share the load. Just make sure you have charged cellphones so you can touch base about unexpected deals and meet up before checking out.
8. Bring a Snack
Shopping while tired is one thing, but shopping while tired and hungry is a recipe for disaster. Make sure you pack a snack or plan to stop for a quick healthy breakfast. Choose something with complex carbs for energy and protein for staying power – sliced fruit topped with two tablespoons of peanut butter works well.
Granola bars, string cheese, and muffins are also easy to pack and eat on the go. If you want something more substantial, arrange to meet at a friend’s house for a quick meal.
9. Dress Appropriately
Since many sales now start on Thanksgiving night, there’s less need to stand outside and wait for stores to open. This cuts down on the time spent out in frigid temperatures. That said, it’s important to dress appropriately for the day. Transitioning between a cold parking lot and a packed store can result in overheating, so dress in easily removable layers. I like to wear a lighter jacket with a scarf and gloves for added warmth.
If you plan to start your day at a store that doesn’t open until Black Friday morning (such as Burlington Coat Factory, REI, or Costco), dress appropriately for the weather. Wear thick sweaters topped with a coat you can sling over your arm once you’re in the store. Hats and gloves are a must in colder climates. Finally, stay toasty from the inside-out by brewing coffee or hot chocolate and carrying with you in a Thermos.
10. Remember Cyber Monday
Cyber Monday is a term created by retailers for the Monday following Black Friday, and it was invented to persuade the buying public to shop online. In fact, over $1 billion was spent by consumers on this day last year. So don’t fret if you can’t complete your entire shopping list on Black Friday. You will be able to find lots of great deals the following Monday online.
Black Friday is right around the corner, so now is the time to start preparing. With proper planning and sufficient research, you can snatch up great deals and have a lot of fun doing it. Plan a schedule and a strategy, and stick to it. After all, what’s better than saving hundreds or possibly thousands of dollars on purchases you need to make anyway?
What other ideas do you have for saving on Black Friday? Do you prefer to shop online, or do you hit the stores?