Black Friday is the official start of the retail holiday season. It’s considered to be a day when most stores nearly double or triple their annual sales. For the consumer, this means that there are going to be great deals on merchandise they want for Christmas. There’s going to be high-priced electronics marked down and clothes are going to be a bargain. The toy department is going to be packed as parents try to fulfill the hottest toys off their child’s wish list. Consumers may even be buying Christmas decorations to spin off their season in the right direction. And, that’s not even the first few hours of this busy, busy day.
It’s important to have a strategy if you plan to go into these stores on Black Friday. From a retail worker’s standpoint, there are two types of people on this day. First, there are bargain hunters. These customers have planned out the ads, waited in the lines and were lucky to walk out with the item they came to get. Then, there are those shoppers who shop for deals. Sure, they may have looked at the ads and stood in the lines as well. They got to the lines too late, however, and had to choose another gift. Black Friday shopping is not easy, but it’s a great way to get all your Christmas shopping done in one day. If you’re mad enough to go out into these crowds, you may want to follow these shopping strategies as your guide to a successful trip.
Check the ads.
It’s always great to have a plan of action. There are sites such as blackfriday.com that will display the current Black Friday advertisements. Take your time looking at these. You’re going to want to compare prices at stores in order to get the best deal. This is an especially useful tip if you are buying electronics or toys. Every store is going to be competitive on these prices, and you don’t want to overpay for any item.
Here’s what I usually do when I look at advertisements. I get out a notepad and write a store’s name at the top of the page. Then, underneath it I write the item and its price. If I’m price comparing for Black Friday, I’ll leave space underneath it to fill in other stores. For example, Target has board games for $5 on Black Friday, while Toys R Us has games for $3. The advertisements are going to be a huge money saver, if you take the time to plan it right.
Know when stores open.
The majority of stores open on Thanksgiving night. There are going to be lines, however, no matter how early you arrive and park your car. Dress to stand outside if need be. Often the line will move fast, but sometimes they only let a few people in at a time. Each store’s opening time should appear on their advertisement. For instance, Best Buy opens at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving night, while Kmart doesn’t open until 6 a.m. on Friday morning. Plan your stores according to their hours and this will help you get the best deals before they slip out your reach. It may also allow you get sleep in between your Black Friday shopping.
Plan your route.
There’s a lot to planning for Black Friday. First, always gas up the Wednesday before shopping so time is not wasted at the gas station. It’s better to not have this worry than to have to find an open gas station on Thanksgiving night. Next, plan where or if you’re going to get coffee before going to the stores. Most stores are comfortable with shoppers bringing in beverages as long as nothing spills on the merchandise. Additionally, have an idea of which stores you want to visit and in what order. This should ideally go from the most important gift to the least important gift, but there are various ways of doing this.
If it’s possible, go the day before to get a visual look at the merchandise. Stores like Walmart usually have it out on the floor since they are open on Thanksgiving. If this is the case, ask an employee how early you need to get in line to get that item. Readjust your route plan and consider going to that store first to get that gift. And, don’t be surprised if you see people bring their own chairs to sit in. It does happen.
Make a list.
I’m going to say it again: Make a list. It’s important to know why you’re in the store if you’re pushing through crowds of people. They all want the same item you do, which will make everyone cranky. If your husband wants an iPad, then try to get back to the iPad counter. If Jack wants a board game and Joan wants a doll, then good luck squeezing through the toy aisles. There are mobs of people, and you’re going to have to learn how to get through all of them.
List shopping on Black Friday makes everything much easier. It’s a better idea to organize your gifts by store (and don’t forget to write down what time they open!) This way, you can get into lines and or try to get past those who have stopped to chat. Once your list is fulfilled, this is a good time to look around. There may additional items that Jack may take interest in, such as a soccer ball or roller blades. If your spouse goes with you, make sure they help you keep an eye on the cart. It’s easy for someone to snatch a toy out of your cart that they weren’t able to get.
There’s going to be cranky people. There’s going to be crying kids. There’s gong to be long, long lines to get into the store, lines to get to the item and lines to get to the register. Yes, this is Black Friday and these are some of the biggest shopping crowds of the year. It’s all the more reason not to be rude to anyone. Don’t be that “line cutter” that is often seen on these days. Trust me, you’re getting out of the store at the same speed as everyone else.
Be patient and the line will move. It may seem like you’re sleeping standing up, but you’re going to Starbucks next. You have planned for this for months, and now your mother is getting the perfect gift. Christmas is going to be magical, and your shopping has paid off. It was worth it because you are dedicated and have the advantage of doing all your shopping in one trip.