In case you didn’t already know, this year, Black Friday is on November 25th. Before you head out to the biggest shopping day of the year, we want to make sure you’re prepared. Whether it’s your first time Black Friday shopping, or you’re a seasoned bargain hunter, follow these sure-fire suggestions to find the best deals and have a positive Black Friday shopping experience.
Do Your Homework: Check Prices Early
While items are marked down on Black Friday, sometimes it’s hard to tell if you’re really getting that great of a deal. The whole point of the shopping event is to get unbeatable bargains, so it’s good to know how much items sell for normally.
Do some research on the items on your list. Check the weekly ads and in-store prices leading up to Black Friday, this way you’ll know if the sales are really that great, instead of making a spur-of-the-moment decision.
Use the Web
There are now several websites dedicated entirely to Black Friday deals. You can find out which stores will have the items you want, which places will have the deepest discounts, and double check which stores will be open and when.
You can also find some killer deals online, and if you’d prefer to avoid the crowds and long lines, you can do your shopping entirely online during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Some people prefer to do their shopping online either for better deals or to avoid the craziness of in-person shopping. 2013 was the first time Cyber Monday overtook Black Friday as the biggest shopping day, and according to this survey, 47 percent of respondents say they plan to shop on Cyber Monday instead of Black Friday in 2016.
The great thing is you don’t necessarily have to choose. Depending on what you’re looking for and how much time you have, you can take advantage of in-store and online deals and knock out your Christmas shopping in one weekend.
Get an Early Start
Don’t worry, I’m not telling you to wake up even earlier on Black Friday. Instead, take advantage of stores that open their doors to shoppers on Thanksgiving. If you don’t have any post-dinner plans, you can score some early bargains.
Also, some places have Midnight Madness, where they open their doors at – you guessed it – midnight. Check your local ads to see which stores in your area will open for Thanksgiving and/or Midnight Madness.
Stick to Your Budget
Even if items are marked down significantly, it’s still very easy to overspend on Black Friday. In 2015, the average Black Friday shopper spent $299.60. Planning ahead can help you save money instead of breaking the bank.
Make a list of your must-have items and come up with a figure you’re willing to spend. Then, take your list with you and stick to it!
It defeats the purpose of markdowns if you go way above your budget and buy items you don’t need just to take advantage of a deal.
Have a Game Plan
Decide which stores you want to hit and plan your route before you leave the house. Keep in mind that there may be crazy traffic, and account for unusually long lines.
Most stores will send their ads out early or post their deals online. Keep up with these listings so you can prioritize where you need to go to get the items you want.
Double Check Store Policies
This essentially means read the fine print. Will a store price match? What is the return policy on sale items? Can you exchange items or do they only offer store credit?
Double checking store policies can keep you from ending up with unwanted items. Also, while Consumer Report predicts that more stores will have price-match policies in 2016, do your research, as they may not apply to certain Black Friday items.
There’s an App for That
Navigation apps like Google Maps and Waze may help you maneuver around the throngs of people, but there are also some great shopping apps that can help you with those game time decisions.
Black Friday has a mobile app that will let you see store ads from your mobile phone or tablet, and there are some excellent price-match apps like Shop Savvy that will let you scan bar codes and compare prices instantly.
Divide and Conquer
Most people don’t Black Friday shop alone, but a savvy companion can help you hit more places in less time and find deals.
Enlist a friend to drive the getaway car, or if you go to a mall or location with lots of different stores, have him or her hit one while you take care of the other.
You may also want to enlist a companion to help you pass the time in line.
You’ve done your homework, you know where you can find the best deals and which stores you should hit, but you also need to be prepared for the unexpected. Make sure your phone is fully charged, pack snacks for long lines, make sure you have water, wear comfortable shoes, and dress in layers you can easily add or remove.
You’re in for a long night so plan ahead!
Bonus Tip: Be Safe
This one may not help you score an unbeatable deal but it will help you escape Black Friday unscathed. Use caution on the roads and in busy parking lots, don’t go to areas that aren’t familiar and watch out for fellow shoppers in crowded stores. Since 2006, there have been seven deaths and 98 Black Friday-related injuries. We know everyone is looking for a good deal, but it’s not worth getting hurt!
Follow these tips for a safe, successful Black Friday experience. But remember, it’s not all about searching for deals. Don’t forget to reflect on the things you’re grateful for!
Looking for more Black Friday shopping tips? Check out these 10 hacks to have the best Black Friday, ever!
Featured photo credit: 1-0-1471600607127.jpg via media.lifehack.org