The last slice of pie is served, football is over, and there were no major hiccups. Now, it is time to prepare for the daunting task ahead: Black Friday shopping. Over the years, the legends have grown, while some never return to speak of the battle. Others are relegated to their beds for days, unable to put into words the horrors they have witnessed. Yes, it is that time of year again. Don’t worry! This year is going to be different. With these easy to follow guidelines, even the most novice of shoppers will be able to navigate the treachery with ease. Just keep reminding yourself that on Monday everybody will return to normal.
1. Research The Sales/Stores You Intend To Shop– This seems like the most obvious step, yet I cannot recall how many times I have witnessed someone become irate with a store employee when they run out of a product. Researching the sales is not only about price. You MUST be sure that they will have enough to last, or else you need to plan accordingly to get to the head of that line (more on that later). It is advisable to also be sure that you compare prices at different stores. Sure, that flat-screen is 20% off at BestBuy, but that same television may have already been marked down elsewhere, or a better deal may exist. Enlist the help of online retail sites like shopper.com or pricegrabber.com to compare prices from multiple retailers. This will save a tremendous amount of your time. Also, be sure you are clear on each store’s policies for returned items. Nobody likes returning a gift for store credit unless it is a store they shop frequently. Last, do your best to bring proof of the advertised price with you. Not many, but some, retailers will require you bring the ad to the store for credit. To be safe, just bring them all.
2. Determine Product Priority– Sure, that baking dish you purchased was 50% off, but you missed out on the Blu-Ray player that would have saved you twice as much. In short, the beginning of your shopping day should be for the largest savings. Save the small items for last, since the actual savings wont be as great in terms of actual dollars. After all, isnt the point of Black Friday to save money?
3.Determine Options For Items You Cannot Secure A Deal On– So what do you do when the guy or girl ahead of you gets that last big deal? Well, if you are prepared you will have a back-up. A backup option could consist of a substitute product that is already cheap, or it could be another deal at another store. Your best bet would be to determine a back-up product that is similar to the one desired. If the product sold out before you could get to it in this store, the odds are slim that you will locate one anywhere else. However, there is an exception when using teams (more on that later).
4. Determine A Schedule– After the sales have been scoured, the best deals assembled, and back-up plans are in place it is time to develop a schedule. At this point, it is crucial to have completed tasks 1 through 3. Without them, a schedule is useless and your day will be anarchy. Again, focus on the best deals related to the most desired products on your list that fit your timeframe. It would be great if everyone could shop from 2 AM until midnight, but its not feasible. Bear in mind that some places will require you to wait in line before the store opens due to the demand. Before committing to this, be sure you are up to the task! Last, don’t forget to schedule time for food or even a few minutes to just sit down. It does you no good if you pass out in line because all you have had to eat or drink that day was 5 energy drinks.
BONUS: This is for advanced shoppers only! It can be strategic to assemble a small team (or army) to split up and hit different sales. This is the ultimate way to capitalize on the maximum amount of sales. Plus, sending multiple teams to multiple sales provides you a greater opportunity to walk away with everything you planned on. The concept is simple: send each team out with a set of unique product objectives. Keep in contact to update the status of each teams progress. Be warned: this can be tricky! If you send people to multiple locations for the same item to make sure you get at least one, there is always the possibility you will get two! Or even none! Communication between parties is essential.
5. Make Plans To Have Someone Care For Your Children While You Are Shopping– Look, kids are great. To you, your children are probably the most precious things on the planet…that is until they have been dragged store-to-store on Black Friday for 8 hours and forced to carry mom’s purse. The truth is that kids are messy, loud, and unpredictable. Not only do you have to mind your children’s manners for them on days like these, you have to keep a third eye on them. In a flash, little Timmy or Tameka can be swallowed up in a crowd of people and then real panic sets in. If you think you had anxiety when you missed that cordless drill set, wait until you lose your kids at the mall. Odds are, after that the day is over and you owe someone some ice cream. Moms- tell Dad to watch the kids, or Dads tell Moms to watch the kids. If nothing else, pawn them off on the Grandparents or Aunts and Uncles. Note: It may be possible to bring the kids while working in teams, if each team takes turns occupying the children.
6. Pack And Prep What You Will Need For The Day– When you wake up, all of the essentials should be ready. The night before, pack a bag that contains your fliers or coupons along with a back-up list just in case. Also, it may be advantageous to bring along small snacks or drink items, especially if you plan on waiting outside a store for a lengthy period of time. Next, make sure that your ENTIRE party is on the same page logistically…then double check. Working together, communicating effectively, and planning ahead with those in your group can make or break a Black Friday.
7. Nourish, Hydrate, and Use the Facilities BEFORE You Shop– The downfall of many has been the unyielding bathroom break. It has happened to everyone. You are in the proverbial shopping “zone”, so at first you don’t notice that you need a pitstop. Then, it’s time to wait in line again and you just can’t hold it. There goes that perfect place in line, and there you go all the way to the back. The same can be said for food or water (refer to item 4). This is also another reason why kids are a major disadvantage.
If you follow these simple tips, I guarantee that your Black Friday will be much easier than that turkey you slaved over the day before. For a few more bonus tips, keep reading!
Bonus: Be aware of Web-only deals, as well as the deals on Cyber Monday- Dont be discouraged if you missed out on some deals, or if you over-slept a little. The online marketplace is sure to be abuzz with plenty of deals from now until Christmas.
Bonus: Use a credit card instead of cash- I am in no way advocating debt-spending, but at times it does have its advantages. If you are dilligent about paying your balance and have the available cash, this may be the best option for large purchases. A credit card will typically have some sort of sale price protection which can be a lifesaver if the item needs to be returned. Plus, many credit cards offer cash back or rewards points, so if you were going to spend the money anyways then you might as well be rewarded for it, right? Last, its easier to cancel a credit card then it is to recover stolen cash. Credit cards can provide a small sense of security on a hectic day.
Bonus: Watch social media sites for exclusive deals- Social media is everywhere! Facebook has crept into every aspect of our lives, and sale marketing is one. Some retailers have announced special social media discounts this year for Balck Friday, so start “liking” pages now for your chance to save big.