Sunday, November 22, 2009

Savvy How to: Black Friday Shopping Tips

Savvy How To:
Black Friday Survival Guide

In a perfect world all our Christmas shopping would by done by the 4th of July.  But, back in reality, many of us are still scrambling to finalize (or start?) buying holiday gifts for friends and families.  So where can you find spectacular deals on holiday gifting ideas?  Look no further than Black Friday!

The unofficial start of Christmas shopping begins in just a few days with retailers offering doorbuster deals, early bird specials and an array of loss leaders intending to turn customers into energized swarms of shoppers.  Why offer such amazing sale prices to the masses?  Black Friday is the day that retailers hope to go from being in the red to being in the black (making money).

Given the current state of the economy, this years’ shopping frenzy should be staggering to watch.  With retailers opening at 5am or even earlier (some larger retailers have already announced their intent to stay open 24 hours), rabid bargain hunters will begin lining up for deals as early as stores will allow in the hopes of grasping phenomenal savings.

For these significant product savings you may be enticed to brave the crowds this Friday.  Before you fight through the lines, cold and lack of sleep, here are a few pointers to keep in mind:

Keep Warm:  Every year I imagine I could make an obscene amount of money selling hot chocolate to the desperately frozen faces and red glowing gloveless hands waiting in predawn lines. It will be cold.  It’s always cold!  Stock up on hand warmers, hats, scarves, gloves, an extra pair of socks and a warm coat before you venture out.  Remember, it’s easy to cool down if you’re hot by simply removing a layer or two, but getting warmer is a trickier task!

Be Prepared: Your Thanksgiving day newspaper has all of the best deals and sale information available in a massive bundle of ads.  But, your “want” list should already be typed out!  Don’t be tempted to spend extra money on items you don’t need, simply because they’re on sale.  I mean, how did this economy get where it is anyway?!  Before you fall into a turkey coma, scan the ads for any items that spark your interest and develop your shopping strategy. Many secret sales are even available online in the week before Thanksgiving and select ads can be viewed online at company websites by Wednesday.  While there are multiple Black Friday deal finding websites currently leaking sale data, remember, it is often unofficial and will change before the ad is ever officially released.  The most reliable source for deals is through official retail sale flyers.

Divide and Conquer:  Shopping in groups allows you to cover more ground.  Divide your shopping list among friends or family and split the store into shopping sections to maximize your product purchases.  If there are items at multiple stores, pick which items are most important and shop simultaneously – just be sure to have your cell phone fully charged the night before so you can remain in constant communication!

Limited Stock: Remember, these drastically lower price items will likely be difficult to find.  Retailers often have limited quantities available for each offering and the shopping throngs ahead of you in line may want the same deal too!  Stalk the store the night before Black Friday and layout your shopping run so you'll have the advantage! 

Buy the Wrong Size/Color:  If a store is out of your size or desired color, buy whatever style they have in stock and exchange it later! I have bought XXL jeans that no one wanted only to return them a week or two later for the appropriate size!  Love it! (Just make sure the item is regularly carried at that store and not a special make/model specifically for Black Friday only!)

Cyber Monday:  Black Friday isn’t the only day to shop!  The Monday after Thanksgiving is also known as Cyber Monday.  Online retailers typically offer similar savings to Black Friday sales, but you can shop from the comfort and warmth of your own home!

Stay Home: Camping out in the cold is not always necessary for great savings!  Retailers will be slashing prices until Christmas Day to get your business.  Every weekend from now until then will be filled with sales galore.  There’ll be more deals than money in the bank – guaranteed! After-purchase mail-in rebates, long lines and rising tempers may not be worth the hassle.

But, if you are a shopper addicted to the adrenaline rush of finding that almost elusive deal, make sure to bring your patience and some comfortable shoes to the parking lot.  Keep track of your receipts for refunds, get gift receipts or duplicate receipts as necessary for rebates, stick to your budget and enjoy the ride! 

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