Black Friday — the biggest shopping day of the year — seems to be turning into Black Thursday, with stores rolling out deals and doorbusters as early as Thanksgiving Day. If you plan on joining the throngs of bargain hunters this holiday season, keep in mind that surviving the day unscathed and arriving home with discounts galore involves having a game plan for success.
• Know prices of the items you want to buy.
Don't just grab it because it's “on sale.” Scour advertisements ahead of time to gauge the regular retail prices for common items, including electronics. Make notes and comparison shop to help you pinpoint a true deal for the item that has your eye.
• Understand the fine print of “doorbusters.”
Doorbuster sales are meant to get shoppers into stores (while retailers are betting they'll make a few extra purchases along the way). If doorbuster items are all you’re looking for, read the advertisements carefully, noting the start and end time of the discounts and if there will be limited quantities. In addition, determine if there is a special return policy for sale items purchased on Black Friday.
• Dress for comfort.
Ladies, high heels may not be a good idea. Wear sensible, comfortable shoes and clothing and leave the large purse at home in favor of something compact, which can be draped securely over your shoulder and body to navigate the crowds. Keep your coat in the car or make use of a coat check service if available. Dress in layers if you will be waiting outside for stores to open. This way you can shed clothing as the mercury rises or when you get inside.
• Arrive together, but shop separately.
The “divide and conquer” method of shopping allows everyone in your shopping party to score good deals. Split up shopping tasks and then head to different areas of the store. Share and collect your purchases when you meet up after the rush.
• Make a list and stick to it.
Buyers’ remorse come Saturday morning is common for those who have over-extended
their budgets and purchased items they did not need. Know ahead of time what you plan to purchase and do not veer off course.
• Scout the stores ahead of time.
Visit the stores where you plan to shop a few days before Black Friday. Learn the layout of the store and where everything is located. Try on certain clothes or read over the labels of big-ticket items you plan to buy. Knowing where items are located and having all of your information in advance will cut down on the time it takes to find items on Black Friday.
• Don’t overlook nontraditional stores.
Many other stores, from pharmacies to supermarkets, stock items apart from food and toiletries. Consider taking advantage of their sales for some Black Friday deals.
• Park off campus.
Mall parking lots can get just as crowded as the stores themselves. Save yourself time and the stress of finding a spot by parking near to the store, but away from the crowd.
• Clean out your car prior to shopping.
Make room in the trunk or cargo area for all of your purchases. For those who will be buying large, heavy items, find out if the store will ship the merchandise or will hold it aside until you can take it home. Understand that some stores will not hold items and enlist a friend or spouse to help you pack purchases into the car.
• Promptly store receipts.
Stay organized. Designate a folder or envelope for all of your receipts to keep them together and handy.
• Pack a small snack and drink.
It’s easy to become dehydrated and hungry waiting in long lines, which can compromise your decision-making abilities. Bring a snack so that you can recharge your body and continue shopping.
• Leave the kids at home.
Black Friday shopping can be stressful, and children can easily get lost or bumped around in the fray. It is safer to leave them home or find a babysitter so you can focus your full attention on getting what you came to get.
• Know when to call it quits.
Establish a firm cut-off time for ending your shopping excursion. This way you can head home, rest and sort through your purchases.