For some people, the mere mention of “Black Friday” incites fear and causes even the most experienced shopper to curl up in a fetal position. But with the deep discounts on big ticket items (like the Sharp 42″ Class LCD 1080p HDTV which will be on sale for $199.99 at Best Buy) being limited to in-store only, the cold weather and insane crowds start to look like minor stumbling blocks.
With Black Friday only a week away, now is the time to prepare for battle. Our take-no-prisoner’s approach to Black Friday shopping will arm you with useful shopping tactics and valuable insider’s information containing the hottest after-Thanksgiving deals.
So lace up your boots (or slippers…or whatever it is that you’re wearing) and join us for a little Black Friday bootcamp.
#1 Know the Store: Once you’ve figured out what you want to buy from the Black Friday sales ads and where you’ll need to go to buy them, you’ll want to check the store hours. The early bird catches the worm, and on Black Friday, the early birds start early, with many stores opening in the wee hours of the morning. You don’t want to show up at 9am when they typically open only to find that the store actually opened at 4am and all of the items you came for are already sold out.
Additionally, some stores (like Best Buy) hand out tickets to those waiting in line for the items they came to shop for. Sale inventory is limited to only those who received the ticket. So do your research and plan ahead.
You may even want to pay a visit to the store a day beforehand to familiarize yourself with the aisles so you’ll know where to look on the following day.
#2 Pack Light and Pack Smart: Clean out your wallet or purse the night before and make sure you have everything you need organized including your credit cards, coupons, and a fully charged cell phone. We recommend programming the phone numbers of a few of your favorite stores into your cell phone. In the event one store is sold out of the item you came for, you can quickly call another location to find out if they still have inventory. Plus, you can use your phone’s browser to compare in-store prices to online prices to ensure that you really are getting a good deal. It might also be a good idea to load a few fun apps on your phone so you have something to help pass time while you’re waiting in long checkout lines.
You may even want to consider packing a granola bar or a small bag of munchies so you don’t have to detour to a fast food joint in the middle of your shopping endeavors.
#3 Sales Ads: It might seem easy to remember what you want to buy now, but when you’re surrounded by a frenzied crowd, loads of sale items, and blaring holiday music, everything you thought you’d remember goes out the window. Having the sales ad on hand makes it easier to remember exactly what you came for and how much you should be paying for it, if in the event it rings up different at the register. Be sure to read the ad carefully and compare it to the item you pick up off the shelf. Make sure the model numbers are the same and any other additional criteria (such as color or special edition) matches the item in the ad, so you’re sure you’re purchasing the right sale item.
#4 Set a Budget: Being surrounded by sale signs and being in an excited environment can leave you with sale goggles. Remember how much you can afford to spend and buy what you came for, this way you don’t walk away with having spent too much (unless you don’t mind eating ramen noodles until the new year.)
We don’t mean shin guards and face masks (although this might not be a bad idea, all things considered.) Keep your wallet or handbag close. If you decide to lock shopping bags up in your car, be sure to put them in the trunk, where they’ll be out of sight to any possible thieves. Wear comfortable shoes and layer clothes that can be shed and tied around your waste, as stores often get hot given the big crowds. And while running through the store may burn off the extra calories you consumed the day prior, try to remember there’s no deal worth running another shopper down for.
Incorporate the help of a friend or family member to come along with you. You can cover more store ground in less amount of time if you split up. Plus, they’ll (hopefully) be the voice of reason when you get flustered, are tempted to buy more than you came for, or can’t remember which color Nintendo 3DS it was that your nephew in Arizona wanted.
Given the the holiday rush, lengthy lines and limited inventory, you’ll most likely be surrounded by tired, impatient, aggravated shoppers. But try to keep a positive attitude! Staying calm will not only help you think clearer and make smarter shopping decisions, but might it even rub off on the people around you. Employees (who stay trapped in with the crazy shoppers all day until closing) are more willing to help a kind shopper versus a rabid one, and will more willing tip you off to the time/day when they intend to replenish desirable stock and may even help you locate extra inventory at another store location.
And, if after all of your headache and aggravation, if you it turns out that you didn’t have much luck finding what you want during your Black Friday adventures, remember, there’s always Plan B (Cyber Monday!)
Here’s your sneak peek at 2011′s Black Friday Sales Ads:
What are you shopping for this Black Friday?