Thursday thoughts: Black Friday starts....NOW!

The awesome sales that occur the day after Thanksgiving are actually coming a little early this year. Here's the scoop on the early ads as well as tips to getting the most for your money during the traditional Black Friday weekend.

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Local stores prepare for Black Friday
Faye Prosser

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. With just weeks to go 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 highly 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 that 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.

Very Early Bird Deals 2010: 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. This year, though, the trend is to begin offering deals as early as the first week in November! That’s right, some retailers have already started advertising and offering Black Friday deals. Sears,, Walmart, JCPenney and Target are all offering early sales targeted at the Black Friday shoppers. The good news is that starting the Black Friday sales now means you have more time to shop for good deals and less stress shopping the crazy Black Friday weekend. For more details on the specific early sales, see I recommend signing up for their e-mails so you don’t miss any deals during the next month.
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.
Black Friday Websites: 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 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 me to get an early preview of the great deals and a chance to comparison shop.
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 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 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 yoru 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 rebuy 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 rebuy 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. Make sure you also stay safe. Try not to shop alone in the wee hours of the morning, if possible.

Now you are ready to conquer Black Friday and take care of your shopping list, without breaking the bank. If you have a favorite website dedicated to posting Black Friday ads, please post it here. Remember, as I always say: It’s your money – spend it wisely!



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