Smart Shopper: Black Friday 101
Posted November 22, 2009 3:18 p.m. EST
Updated November 25, 2009 8:14 a.m. EST
Have you ever wondered what possess perfectly sane people to get up well before the crack of dawn to shop the Black Friday sales on the day after Thanksgiving? Well, while you are snuggled up in bed sleeping off your turkey tummy, they are scoring huge savings on all their holiday gifts. From computers to coffee makers, they are finding great buys at well below the retail cost. 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. If you still have gifts left to purchase, this is a fabulous time to save big. There are some fantastic deals to be had the entire Black Friday weekend and with a little planning and preparation, you can save a ton of money.
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. When you see the gift you want to buy in the flyer or online, write it down next to the person’s name. 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.
Preview the sneak peaks
Planning for Black Friday doesn’t have to start the day before Thanksgiving, when many of the Black Friday sales ads are in the newspaper. There are a number of websites who post the Black Friday ads early, giving shoppers a chance to decide what stores are offering the best deals on the items they want. One of my favorite sites is http://bfads.net/. Beginning the last week of October, they start posting Black Friday ads as soon as they get them (which is often long before we get them). It allows us to get an early preview of the great deals and a chance to comparison shop. They have already posted the Black Friday ads for Walmart, Macy’s, Kmart, JCPenney, Toys “R” Us, Best Buy and many more.
Plan your shopping
Once you decide what stores and deals to target, you want to map your route. This is especially important if you plan to go to many stores. Decide what deals you really want and be at those stores when they open. 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 during the day 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. The trend this year is for some stores to open even earlier than last year, so you may want to plan on going to bed very early the night before! 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. Check out their ads to see if online shopping is an option.
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 craziness that sometimes rears it’s ugly head when there is a good deal on a 1000” TV or $5 laptop computer. Remember – Black Friday is not meant to be a contact sport! 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.
Now you are ready to conquer Black Friday and take care of your shopping list once and for all. Have fun, save big and good luck. Remember, as I always say, it’s your money – spend it wisely!