So, you’ve scanned the ads and you found that deal you’ve been waiting for ALL year long! Whether you are a seasoned pro or new to shopping Black Friday or Cyber Monday, there are a few key points to keep in mind to help you enjoy your day.
1. Review the ads and compare prices before you shop. Black Friday certainly isn’t the day to pick up an ad when you walk through the doors. Carefully look over each store’s ad and make a list of the items you want at each store so you can try to get in and out as quickly (I use that term loosely), as possible. Make sure that you know the original price of the item you want so that you can tell if you are really getting a deal rather than being sucked in by the hype.
Since more than one store will be offering the same products at deep discounts, be sure to compare so that you get the best deal. One thing to keep in mind is the distance to the store from your house. If driving an extra 10 miles to save $5.00 is the deal, then it might not be worth your time and gasoline to make the trip.
2. Plan your shopping trip. Plan your route before you leave home. It makes sense to try to hit all of the stores you can that are in close proximity to one another. Determine what time the store opens and whether it is worth standing in line or not. If a store opens at 4 am, full expect a long line by 3 am or so.
3. Shop with your ads in hand. Determine where you want to shop and plan your shopping strategy. Try to visit an area that has most of your stores close together so you can cut down on drive time. It is also a good idea to have the ads with you when you shop. That way, if the price rings up at the wrong price, you have the ad to show the clerk so that you don’t pay too much for your items.
4. Know that you might not get your deal. Many times, stores only get in a certain number of items. For example, most television deals are limited to 10 (or fewer) per store. So, make sure you have a back up plan for what to buy in case you aren’t quick enough to get your deal. And then don’t get angry with the store manager or employees when the stock has been depleted.
5. Know your store’s return policies. This can be very helpful when shopping so that you know how your store handles out of stock items, rain checks and price matching (although very few stores will price match any Black Friday ads). Understand the return policy and time frame. The best solution is to get a gift receipt.
6. Divide and conquer. I always shop with my mom. The reason I love this is that one of us can hit one area of the store to find one item and the other person can search across the store for something else. We decide beforehand where we’ll meet up so that we can pull our items together and check out at the same time.
7. Patience is a virtue. It really is true. There are going to be mobs of people. You will stand in line for long periods of time to get into the store in some intances and more than likely in another line to checkout. Some stores make it fun and offer “in-line games.” Just be nice and remember that you aren’t the only person shopping and trying to get a deal. I always say “Kill ’em with Kindness.” In fact, I usually make friendships and share deal stories with the people I meet in line – which is nice if you forget something – they’ll save your place for you if you have to step out of line for a minute.
8. Leave the kids behind. If you can, find someone to watch your kids. Shopping on Black Friday can be crazy and the kids will not have fun. I also look at it as a safety issue as when there are so many people, it is easy for your child to get distracted and separated from you. So it is just best if they can stay at home.
9. Keep your cash close. Of course, I recommend paying for your entire holiday in cash. I also never carry a purse with me on the day I shop. Instead, I place my debit card, ID and cash in my front pocket so that I don’t have to worry about being pick pocketed or worse, forgetting my purse or wallet in a store (plus, without a purse, you have more hands to carry more deals).
10. Skip Black Friday – Wait until Cyber Monday. If the thought of the crowds is too much to bear, just skip it all together and shop on Monday, November 29th … a.k.a. Cyber Monday. Doing so can save you the stress of too many people or worse, driving to your store to find that they are sold out of the item you are wanting. Most retailers will be offering deep discounts and usually even free shipping on Cyber Monday.
I love this shopping day — and not for the deals. For me it is all about tradition — the one day a year I get to take the day off from my ordinary life and just go and have fun. Of course, this day isn’t for everyone. If you can’t stand the crowds, stay home – and sleep in.