Thanksgiving may be weeks away, but now is the time to start preparing for Black Friday! With less than a month until the big shopping day known as Black Friday, it’s time to start mapping out your super shopping strategy. The Friday after Thanksgiving is called “Black Friday” because this is usually the time when many stores start to make money and go into the black, as far as accounting is concerned.
Although I shop for great deals all year round, and usually have most of my holiday shopping finished by Thanksgiving, there are still some excellent deals I get every year at Black Friday. I recommend shopping the Black Friday weekend if you still have lots of gifts left to purchase by Thanksgiving. There are some fantastic deals to be had the entire weekend and with a little planning and preparation you can save a lot of money and take care of that holiday shopping once and for all.
Your Shopping Style: Are you a dedicated shopper who gets up hours before the crack of dawn on the day after Thanksgiving to hit the big sales? Do you prefer to sit it out and sleep off your turkey feast from the day before? Maybe you are an online shopper who prefers to grab up the deals without ever standing in one single line. No matter your shopping style, one thing is clear, the weekend after Thanksgiving offers some fantastic buys for those willing to make the effort.
Early Bird Deals 2011: Traditionally, the real Black Friday deals do not start until the day after Thanksgiving. In the last few years, retailers have offered some of their best deals online on Thanksgiving Day or even the day before Thanksgiving. In 2010, some stores offered Black Friday deals as early as the first week in November! That’s right, some retailers started advertising and offering Black Friday deals 3 weeks before Black Friday! We’ll just have to wait and see if that happens again. For more details on the specific early sales, see bfads.net. I recommend signing up for their e-mails so you don’t miss any deals during the next month.
Early Black Friday leaked ads: There are many websites that publish leaked Black Friday ads for most of the major retailers. Sometimes the websites have to pull the ads from their sites when the retailer doesn’t want the information to be made public before Black Friday. Some retailers allow these sites to publish the ads on a certain date before Black Friday (usually around a week or so). It’s very helpful to get an early look at these ads so you can decide exactly which stores to target first for specific items. The more you prepare, the better the chance you will get what you want with the least amount of hassle. Keep in mind, there will most certainly be some hassle if you are out and about shopping in stores during the weekend after Thanksgiving. Using the preview ads will help you to significantly minimize that frustration, though.
As of today, October 27, there have been a few ads published on various Black Friday websites including BJ’s, Radio Shack, Ace Hardware and the Target toy coupon book details. In the next couple weeks there will be many more ads published. One of the good deals in the BJ's ad is a 32" HDTV for $219.99. Head to bfads.net for the early ads and for articles offering some great advice on buying specific types of products. For instance, they just posted an article on buying 3D TV’s and eReaders. Gottadeal.com also has a good article on predictions for the hot buys this year. Like Bfads, they list the Black Friday ads and offer advice on scoring the best deals.
Make Your List: Before you step foot in the store or log onto a company website, make a list of all the people for whom you are buying gifts. As you locate the gift you want to buy, write it down next to the person’s name. Make sure you include the store name as well so you know where to get the gift. Once you actually buy the gift, check it off on the list. If you can wrap and label the gift the same day you buy it, you will have much less stress the night before the holiday when you may have many gifts to wrap.
Plan Your Shopping: Once you decide what stores and deals to target, you want to map your route. Last year I only went to 2 stores for Black Friday shopping, so it was a quick and easy mission. Because I could see the sales ads early, I knew just where I wanted to go and what items I wanted to buy. Some folks go to many stores, though and it’s important to prioritize your shopping. If any of the best buys you want are going to be available online, that’s a great way to avoid the crazy crowds and early hours. Some stores start their Black Friday sales online on Thursday (Thanksgiving Day), allowing you to completely avoid waiting in line at 5:00 am on Friday. If you do need to get your desired items at the store, decide what deals you really want and be at those stores long before they open. The lines can start hours before the doors actually open for business. The best buys go quickly and most stores don’t issue rainchecks for the deeply discounted items. Then decide what stores you will go to and in what order. Some families divide and conquer with mom going to one set of stores and dad going to another at the same time. Tip: let the kids sleep at Grandma’s the night before so you can get out and about without shopping “assistance” from the little ones.
Know the Policies: Make sure you know the policies on returns before you buy. I also suggest getting gift receipts just in case the sweater doesn’t fit or the little one received 5 of the same toy. If your local store allows price matching, like Walmart, take advantage of this policy. During Black Friday, though, not all stores allow price-matching, even if that is their everyday policy. Some people buy items before the big sales and then plan to return them on Black Friday and immediately re-buy them at the lower sale price. Some stores will allow this and some will not. Some stores who allow this during regular weeks will not allow it on Black Friday. If you are planning to do the return and re-buy game, make sure the store will allow you to repurchase the item at the sale price.
Shopping Day: If you approach Black Friday with a great attitude and sense of adventure, it can be lots of fun. Shop with a friend to enjoy the experience even more. Try not to get caught up in the greediness that sometimes rears it’s ugly head when there is a good deal on a 1000” TV or $20 computer. Important - bring snacks and drinks. I know it sounds strange, but if you plan on going to multiple stores, early in the morning, you are going to need something to eat and drink. You need to keep up your energy for all that power shopping! You’ll also save time (and money) if you don’t have to stop for breakfast. Wear comfortable shoes!! Make sure you also stay safe. Try not to shop alone in the wee hours of the morning, if possible.
New for 2011: There are a couple new saving opportunities for 2011. I expect that more retailers will offer similar deals as we get closer to the big day.
Walmart: As I posted earlier in the week, Walmart is offering a new holiday price guarantee this season. If you buy an item at Walmart and find it somewhere else for less money, they will give you a Walmart gift card for the difference. The guarantee good at U.S. Walmart stores from November 1, 2011 through December 25, 2011. Black Friday ads, expired ads, percent-off ads, clearance ads and online prices are not included in the offer. BUT, there will be other good sales before Black Friday that may make this guarantee a good deal. Items on layaway are eligible for the guarantee. In case you didn't already know, Walmart is offering layaway again this holiday season.To get the gift card, you have to bring in the Walmart receipt for the item and the competitor's ad by December 25, 2011.
Best Buy: Starting November 1, 2011, Best Buy will offer free shipping, on all items with NO minimum purchase through December 27!
Now is the time to make your list, study the Black Friday ads and get ready to save, save, save! If you have a favorite website dedicated to posting Black Friday ads, please post it here. As more ads are leaked, I'll continue to post the deal information. Remember, as I always say: It’s your money – spend it wisely!