To some, the thought of abandoning your family before the turkey has had time to digest so you can camp out on cold sidewalks seems a little absurd. While it may not be your cup of tea, these are the things die-hard shoppers endure on the eve of Black Friday. Subjecting themselves to the harsh elements, standing in lines stretched as far as the eye can see – all for the sake of scoring big savings. Before you load up on lattes and hit the streets, prepare yourself for the retail frenzy that awaits you. Here’s a bit of practical advice to help you maneuver through the masses and make the most of your shopping experience:
- Divide and Conquer – This is the only day out of the whole year that I advise against shopping alone. Black Friday should be a team effort. Round up your sisters, in-laws, and girlfriends and head out together. But instead of everyone heading over to the small appliance department to snag a heavy duty blender, split up and assign an item to each person. This greatly increases the chances of going home with what you originally set out to get.
- Compare Your Wants to What’s on Sale – More than likely, what you’re buying is a want, not a need. As such, don’t be married to the idea of having it. Is the smaller HDTV priced well within your budget a more practical buy than the larger one with all the bells and whistles? If so, buy it and pocket the change.
- Start Preparing Now – Don’t wait until the night before. Know exactly what you want and where to get it. Go over ads with a fine tooth comb. Familiarize yourself with the store’s special Black Friday return policies, as well as how they’ll handle in-demand items that sold out before you got there. Gas up and give yourself time to stop for coffee. And last but not least, pick your shopping outfit wisely. You’ll be out and about a good part of the day, so put together a comfortable, yet stylish look
- Shop Where You’re Rewarded – Some stores offer gift cards and rebates when you spend a certain dollar amount or when you buy a popular big ticket item. Resist temptation and don’t redeem it immediately. Put it aside and use it on the next big shopping day – Cyber Monday.
- Overdose on Patience – You’re going to need it. Expect long lines, limited quantities, and organized chaos. It wouldn’t be Black Friday without it. Having said that, never resort to rudeness or violence for the sake of getting a deal.
- Stay Focused – There will be shiny objects all around you. If you’re prone to impulse buying – get in, get out, and go home. Stick to what’s on your list and don’t try to justify overspending. Hold on to your receipts so you can make returns once the excitement wears off and reality sets in.
- Check Current Prices – Buying on Black Friday doesn’t guarantee the best deal. Compare prices, both online and in stores, to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck. Then ask yourself if it’s really worth it to wake at the crack of dawn and fight crowds if you only end up saving ten percent.
- Develop Plan B – Think ahead to what’s going to happen if you can’t get your hands on the hot deal you camped out in search of. Online retailers often match the prices of their brick and mortar competition.
- Stay Safe – Don’t leave your cart full of valuables or your purse unattended. If you’re heading out for door buster sales, park in a well lit area. Keep previous purchases out of plain sight by locking them in your trunk. Keep your cell phone charged and take an extra battery along with you.
- Opt Out If You Need To – Don’t feel compelled to shop on Black Friday. This is just one of many shopping days leading up to Christmas. If you haven’t taken the time to devise a strategy and set a spending limit, hitting the stores ill-prepared will work against you.
DONNA L. JOHNSON is an Austin, Texas-based blogger, inspirational speaker and radio personality. She started discountthief.com to fill a void in the fashion blogging space by encouraging women to shop responsibly and live within their means. Learn more about Donna’s latest steals and deals at Discount Thief.