Black Friday Shopping Tips
The biggest shopping weekend of the year is right around the corner and 69 percent of Americans, an estimated 164 million people, are planning to shop or considering shopping during Thanksgiving weekend, according to the annual survey released by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics. The survey further notes that consumers say they will spend an average $967.13 this year, which is an increase of 3.4 percent from the $935.58 consumers said they would spend when surveyed at the same time last year.
So – when do all these folks plan to shop? 20 percent plan to shop on Thanksgiving Day (32 million) but Black Friday will remain the busiest day with 70 percent planning to shop then (115 million) and 48 percent are expected to shop on Cyber Monday (78 million).
So how do you shop Black Friday Sales when 69 percent of Americans will also be shopping?
Here are 8 Black Friday Shopping Tips
1. Make a plan
When it comes to navigating Black Friday mobs, the worst thing you can do is wander and browse. Do your research. Check the ads. Make a list of what you are buying, where and for whom. All the Black Friday ads are available online. Make your list for each store and prioritize your shopping plan based on the store with the most deals for your list so that you are sure to get those items crossed off your list.
2. Shop early for the best selection
Thanksgiving day is the new Black Friday, but luckily only 20% of Americans plan to shop this day. Most retailers are offering Black Friday deals early online, so it’s easy to take advantage of many of the deals with few clicks online rather than fight the crowds. In fact, Target is offering RedCard holders early access to Black Friday deals on Wednesday at midnight. If you do plan to shop in-store, it’s important you get there early for two reasons – parking and deal availability. WIth so many people shopping, finding a parking space early will be easy, after lunch, not so much!
3. Look for top deals online
You don’t need to wait until Cyber Monday to shop online. In fact, this year the majority of Black Friday deals are already online and with free shipping, and many retailers are offering pre-Black Friday daily deals to get you shopping early. Add the items you want to your online shopping list ahead of time and when it’s go time, simply check out. Of course, there will always be those rock-bottom deals that will only be offered at brick-and-mortar locations. But if you prefer to skip the Black Friday craziness and shop from the comfort of your home, you can still find great savings.
4. Shop with a friend and divide and conquer
With your list in hand, compare notes with your shopping buddy and pick up items for one another in different sections of the store. If one is hitting the electronics section, the other can hit the toy section and help cross off items on the lists much faster. You can also keep in touch about how long the line is and who will wait in line while the other finishes the shopping. As an added bonus, your shopping buddy can also grab you a much needed coffee or a pastry at Starbucks while you wait in line.
5. Prep your smartphone
Your smartphone is your lifeline on Black Friday. Be sure to have a fully charged phone before leaving the house and bring a car charger or external battery pack with you. Your phone will help you coordinate your plan of attack, find your shopping partner if she goes missing, and help you track down deals. Be sure to download the store coupon apps like Target Cartwheel, and the Amazon app for easy price comparisons through their bar code scanner.
6. Dress comfortably
Ladies, wear a cross body purse so that your hands are free for pushing a cart and carrying merchandise. Skip a bulky coat and wear a vest with jeans that have pockets for your phone. Comfortable shoes are a must – this is not a time to show off your fashion heels. The lines are long and the last thing you want is sore feet after the first store.
7. Leave the kids at home
You would be amazed at how many sleeping toddlers you’ll see wrapped in blankets in shopping carts or screaming kids who really want to be in their beds or at home at midnight. Kids don’t like shopping, they don’t like crowds, they hate waiting in lines and you are supposed to be holiday shopping for them anyway. Find a sitter, ask a friend or family member to watch them, or split your shopping time with your spouse so one is always with the kids at home.
8. Read the fine print
Price match policies and rain checks are great savings strategies, but on Black Friday many stores suspend them. This makes it even more important that you do your research beforehand. Also, many stores have timed specials – like early bird deals that end at 10 am, or special coupons that are only valid in-store. Compare prices in Black Friday ads, find the best deal and if it’s an item you really want, find the second best deal so if it’s out of stock, you know where to go. After Black Friday, be sure to take advantage of price matching and rain checks for the rest of the shopping season because they can be great tools.
Eva Fry is a consumer savings expert and the co-founder of the free uGrocery price comparison app.