The holy grail of American consumerism is almost upon us. The name Black Friday refers to the shift in retailers’ accounting books where many “go into the black” or make a profit the day after Thanksgiving. Every year the deals get bigger, the lines grow longer, and the people get crazier. In more recent years, Black Friday has leaked into Thanksgiving night, forcing hard-core bargainers to trek out right after their meals. Even the most seasoned shopper can doubt their abilities that come with the overwhelming crowds. Here are some tips that will prepare you for success and to stay sane during this holiday rush (and no, powerlifting shopping bags isn’t one of them).
Do the Prep Work:
Any strategic shopper knows that planning is crucial. Not only will it let you move through retailers more efficiently, it may also save your peace of mind by planning it out. It’s key to have your organization in check long before you ever pull into a parking spot on Thanksgiving.
Before you create your wish list of discounted finds, you need to consider your finances. Black Friday is not the day to plunge down a rabbit hole of debt, which is why you need to get zoned into what you are searching for. If you are going to take advantage of retailers’ credit cards or rewards program, do it beforehand. Stores’ credit card programs can often save you money when used properly, but you don’t want to be mid-application with the rest of your town behind you waiting impatiently. Solidify the retailers you will be visiting on Black Friday and apply for their cards or loyalty program a week before, which could give you perks for purchases you forgot to snatch up.
To prevent mindless spending (which is the opposite of your goal), you need to make a list items you are hunting for. While it may seem fairly obvious to the seasoned shopper, Black Friday is NOT the time to whimsically shop around. This is a black ops mission to get the best deal before anyone else. Because this tip is absolutely linked to your success for navigating the stores this holiday season, I recommend using your phone to make this list. Whether it’s a note or a Google Doc to be shared with co-shoppers, this way you avoid your list tearing or worse, getting lost in the scuffle. Start with items you’re trying to get and then cross-reference these with your local stores’ deals. Do your research when making these lists by looking at online and print advertisements. Take special note of the times that items will be available and note alternatives that you would be just as happy with. Not all sales go all night long, but others do. For the hot ticket and door buster items, you’ll need to prioritize what you need and where you’ll be to maximize your findings. Also, to complete your lists, make sure to pick up a map of your retailers. This can be especially helpful if you or your Black Friday team are out-of-towners.
What You’ll Need:
You’ve made your list, rounded up your friends, and narrowed down your entrance strategy, so what’s left? There some other items that you’ll need to make sure your Black Friday experience goes swimmingly. A big priority should be your clothing. You want to be comfortable and quick as possible to be able to last to the fullest extent of these sales. Also layer up, if you’re standing outside, in line, especially up North, you will find out very quickly if your winter coat is up to the task or not. Remember, Black Friday is a day of savings, not a fashion show.
Now that you are dressed for success, think about what you will be bringing into the store with you. You will need a purse that has enough room to carry only the essentials: your fully-charged phone, coupons/loyalty cards, some form of cash, and hand sanitizer (trust us on this). With purse choices in general, stay clear of large over-sized, shoulder bags, these will just weigh you down and get in the way. Instead, opt for a small backpack, cross body bag, or even a fanny pack, anything that can give you the most range of motion.
Since you’ll most likely be shopping for an extended period of time, be sure and bring nourishment! Eat breakfast (or Thanksgiving leftovers) before you head out and bring snacks like granola bars or almonds. It’s bound to be a long time and you definitely don’t want to waste precious shopping hours by sitting in the McDonald’s drive-thru lines. Use coffee and energy drinks sparingly to avoid sugar crashes and general crabbiness.
Buddy up. Black Friday has been dubbed the ‘most dangerous holiday’ and should not be attempted alone. In 2015, there were 34% more car accidents that occur on Black Friday compared to the two weeks before and after, most likely due to excess drivers that were harried and not cautious. After all, shopping for 16 hours from Thursday to Friday is likely to have people sleep deprived and not as sharp.
Having extra people around is not only more fun, it can be safer! Traveling in a group can also be handy while in the store too. You can divide and conquer, and still get all the goodies you were going after. Bonus points if you have a friend that doesn’t want to participate in the craziness but is willing to drive you around. Parking spots can be hard to come by!
Here’s a Black Friday tip you don’t have to worry about having any physical room for. During the hustle and bustle of trying to score the best prices, please remember to be kind. Be kind to those in line around you and those working overnight helping you get your deals. Whether you are shopping for your loved ones or yourself this holiday season, just remember to be considerate of other people.
Using these tips can be helpful to lower reservations about Black Friday shopping. Check out already leaked deals and ads for what you can hope to score.
If the craziness of Black Friday still seems like too much, Cyber Monday may be more your speed for holiday shopping. You can still get an adrenaline rush by adding the items to your Amazon cart, all while being in pajamas! The parking lots and store aisles will be intense, which is why preparation is the best defense to ensure success. This Black Friday, don’t leave your thankful heart at the dinner table; carry it with you.
Do you have any Black Friday strategies that work for you? Let us know in the comments below!
Photo via Diariocritico de Venezuela