Black Friday shopping is a storied American tradition but it’s also somewhat of a sport. Many families hit their favorite shopping centers in droves late Thanksgiving night into the early “Black Friday” morning to find the best deals and kick off the busy holiday shopping season.
The objective of any black Friday shopping game plan is to shop smart! So here’s some free game for the pre-game.
Do Your Research: This is definitely one of the most important keys to smart shopping especially on “Black Friday.” You’ve got to be focused in the stores as well as online so that you can be sure to find your wish list items and at the best deals possible. Compare the best deals around beforehand and be sure to make the effort to support small businesses and local designers just like you do your giant department stores.
You can do this by “pre-shopping”. You know- looking around online, keying in to see if the price has already started coming down on some of the items you’ve had in your cart for a while. You should also be sure to check the current prices of the pieces you want so you can be sure you are really saving on Black Friday. And you should also research store policies in case you do make an “irrational” purchase you rethink later.
Create a game plan: After researching and finding the items you really want and which store has it then prioritize which stores you need to get to first for your upmost must-haves. It’s always a good tip to pick a time shift, decide to get to the stores early to beat the rush or go late after the crowds die down and don’t stay too long at the party. Don’t forget to check for online deals the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and be ready to check again on cyber Monday to see if you missed anything.
Set a Budget and mean it. The last thing you want to do is to come out just to buy miscellaneous doo-dads just because you got them “on-sale”. A budget is helpful to keep you geared towards buying only the stuff you really need vs the stuff you buy impulsively in the heat of the moment. Remember that, “doorbuster” items are designed to hook you into buying the stuff you had no intention of buying when you walked into that store in the first place. Target your essential purchases first and foremost, if there’s anything left over then you can entertain buying the nonessential “treats” as well.
If you’re a conservative shopper, have a hard stop on that budget and don’t cross it. Try to shop with cash and don’t carry ALL your credit cards. If you do use a card, pick one-preferably with the lowest interest rates or best rewards incentives and stick to it. If you’re a little more liberal, set an ideal (soft stop) that is flexible and have a worst-case scenario “don’t let me spend more than this” (hard stop) amount and use some disciple.
Get Social: Search online for discount codes, sign up for email alerts from your favorite brands and designers, bring your rewards cards and follow your favorite stores on social media. According to Consumer Reports, there are now dozens of Black Friday websites to help you find tons of leaked Black Friday ads. Try sites like BestBlackFriday.com, DealNews, TheBlackFriday.com, and GottaDeal. Sign up and these sites will send you deal alerts. With that being said, also look through paper circulars as well and cut coupons if you have to.
Make a list of your favorite things and people: After researching and finding the items you really want and which store has it, you can then prioritize which stores you need to get to first for your upmost must-haves. It also doesn’t hurt to start your Holiday shopping for loved ones and grab great deals at the same time. Have a quick list of who you’re shopping for in your head as well, just in case you see something with them in mind.
Bring friends who love to shop: Shopping ain’t for everybody! The last thing you want to do is bring someone who has no love for the sport of Black Friday shopping. Your time and energy needs to be completely aligned with getting those deals, if shopping is not their thing- let them stay home. Same goes for little ones, with the fast pace of shopping, the hectic crowds, and the long lines, you’ll thank yourself for leaving them home– if you can.
Dress Comfortably: Leave the big purses and oversized coats at home. Layer up where applicable. Wear comfortable shoes (now’s the time to bring out the Uggs) and wear clothes you can move in comfortably and lift things in.
Have fun and be safe: There may be seriously deep discounts available but don’t take the shopping experience too seriously. Bring a positive attitude along with you wherever you go. Stay alert and keep an eye on personal belongings like your wallet or purse. For online shopping, be sure that email offers are legit by checking the web address it’s being sent from. Hackers love to send “discount codes” that can compromise your data. Also, be careful about entering your payment information online. Make sure your phones are charged up just in case you and your friends get separated, and last but not least keep in mind that there are no deals worth risking your life over. Enjoy!