Not sure how to survive Black Friday. Read these tips from Kim and you will have a great time on Friday.
Black Friday Shopping Tips
- Be prepared. Make a list of gift items and begin scouring the Black Friday store ads for these items. You will also need to decide how much you can afford to spend on gift items and stick to your budget. You can use the envelope system to help keep you on track. Know which stores begin their sales early on Thursday and/or run 24-48 hours BEFORE or AFTER Black Friday officially begins. It’s also helpful to know each store’s hours, when and where their door buster deals will be, as well as, each store’s lay-out and location. It will save time & gas!
- Decide if you will bring someone with your or go solo to the stores. Will you break up your list into segments and designate someone else to shop for certain items at a different store? Keep in mind that while it’s nice to have one other person with you during this particular sale, too many people will slow down your progress. When in doubt, leave the posse at home. Decide on your game plan and stick with it.
- Stay away from impulse items and do not browse. Remember to bring your list of items and each store’s sales ad into the store with you to ensure you indeed purchase the correct items with correct prices listed…and stick to your list! Some retailers try and lure impulse buyers into their stores with Black Friday “deals” that are anything but, so compare sales ads beforehand to make sure you are getting the best price on your items. If your item rings up incorrectly, you can then pull out the store’s sales ad and point out the correct price/ item to your cashier. Your budget, time, efforts and goals will go out the window if you don’t. It may be helpful to organize your shopping list by store and by gift recipient then cross-reference wish lists with the ads and coupons you collected BEFORE you hit the stores to curb browsing. Since browsing takes up precious time, and you are on a mission to score your items at the lowest possible price, it’s important that you and those with you stay focused and on task.
- Prioritize and start in electronics. Head for the stores with your big ticket or most important items first. These are generally electronics items. Know ahead of time which items you absolutely NEED to come home with, and go after those items first. Don’t waste time on items that you can buy over the Thanksgiving weekend for a similar price. You can grab these items later. Many stores give customers “vouchers” or “tickets” with which to redeem their big ticket items. Get these at the beginning of your shopping trip, as these are usually limited and are located in various departments around the larger stores. For example, you may find plasma TV vouchers being handed out in the garden department of Wal-Mart or Lowes, so ask the customer service representative stationed at the front door about if and where these voucher stations will be located.
- Arrive Early. The Early Bird shopper truly DOES catch the worm, or in this case, the best deals on Black Friday. The stores offering early morning shopping specials usually run these deals from 5 am-11pm and with no “rain checks”, which means once they run out of products the sale is over for those particular items. Many of the aggressive stores will be opening Thursday evening and even early Thursday morning with early bird promotions in hopes of capturing your dollars before the competition has opened later Friday morning. Take advantage of these offers if at all possible. Wal-Mart is one of these stores. They will be releasing Black Friday deals in waves every few hours starting 8pm Thanksgiving day.
- Know store return policies. This can help you determine where to buy. A previous trend of extending “return days” during the holidays has been seen less in past shopping years. Many retailers have included restocking fees and shorter return deadlines. Almost all of the retail chains have clamped down on requiring receipts for returns and exchanges, and some even keep a database of individuals who tend to abuse return policies. If you get put on an “abuse” list, prepare yourself to be turned down and “re-gift” your purchase.
- Ask for gift receipts. This is an important feature many shoppers often overlook, but is very helpful to the gift recipient. Gift receipts generally include a description of the item purchased but do not disclose the price paid. Including gift receipts inside the gift box will make returns or exchanges easier for the gift recipient. Without proof-of-purchase, the recipient may be turned down for returning or exchanging the item or risk an exchange for the current selling price of the item.
- Be prepared for disappointment and have a back-up plan. Often, stores will restrict quantities for each item during special limited-time sales, or store employees will hand out vouchers to the first people standing outside in line for big electronics items, leaving everyone else “out in the cold”…literally and figuratively! So, have a “back-up” item or plan, just in case the store runs out of an item you were planning on purchasing.
- Bring Needed Personal Items. It’s helpful to dress for the occasion. Honestly, unless you personally know me, on Black Friday, I am almost unrecognizable. In fact, I doubt some of my closest friends would be able to actually pick me out of police line-up on Black Friday. I dress in sweats with layered shirts underneath so I don’t have to keep up with bulky coats. I also wear glasses instead of contact lenses, comfortable sneakers and of course my hair is pulled back into a ponytail with a ball cap to complete my “look”! Dressing comfortably is a must. You may also want to bring along some small snacks and a bottled water or coffee loaded with caffeine for a jolt of energy while you are waiting.
- Make friends, be courteous and have a positive attitude. Be mindful of others as you navigate through stores during Black Friday. No running or pushing, or you just may find your fifteen minutes of fame includes a mug shot splashed across the evening news. No sale is worth injury to others or damage to a good reputation. The larger stores tend to have security and police present to make sure things don’t get out of hand. Also, be prepared to have fun and make friends while you are waiting in line. You may need someone you’ve just met to hold your place in line while you take a restroom break, so it’s very important that you “play well with others” while shopping for bargains.
A few final words of advice: Make sure and pick up a copy of your local newspaper on Thanksgiving Day. It will be a massive edition with store circulars and store coupons galore. Also, print out your shopping list for each store from the Black Friday 2012 list. Staple it, along with any coupons you will be using to the actual store sales ad. Fold it up and put it into an envelope marked with each store’s name on the front. You can tuck these envelopes into your purse or small backpack to carry into each store with you. This will help you to be organized with the tools you’ll need to be successful on the biggest shopping day of the year.
Black Friday can be a fun and fruitful shopping experience if you have a plan and you stick to it. By arming yourself with the Black Friday Shopping Tips listed above, I have no doubt you will be prepared and able to get the deals you want with few problems.
A great big THANK YOU to Kim from Everyday Coupon Queen for this survival list!