By Matt Ong
Black Friday looms large in the American holiday calendar. Traditionally the Friday after Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the holiday shopping season, when retailers offer deep discounts and special deals to attract customers. The crowds of shoppers, the advertising chatter and the media circus surrounding Black Friday can be overwhelming, so we’ve provided some tips to help you navigate this shopping-crazed holiday and enjoy the thrifty fun.
Read all about it
Look in local papers and online for Black Friday adverts from your favorite stores. Sometimes stores’ ads are leaked early, giving shoppers a sneak peak at the day’s best deals. Usually the information in leaked ads is reliably accurate, though you should double-check the information before planning to head to a store in the wee hours of the morning. A legitimate ad will feature an actual scanned copy of the release.
Double-check details such as opening hours – you don’t want to be out in the cold too early or too late to score the Black Friday deals at your favorite store. The information published on stores’ official social media – Facebook pages or Twitter feeds, for example – is regularly updated and reliable.
Make a shopping list
The sheer scale of Black Friday can be overwhelming, and there’s no point in shopping for discounted goods if you end up buying stuff you don’t actually want or need. Try to have a game plan in place before heading out to the shops. Start by making a list of the main things you hope to buy this holiday season, then price out those items at the different stores carrying the goods. Don’t be swayed by expensive upgrade options, or the temptation to purchase multiple items instead of the one you need.
Read the fine print
One of Black Friday’s most familiar traditions is the sight of shoppers camping out overnight outside a store, hoping to be one of the first in line to snag discount deals when the doors open. In recent years, stores have pushed their opening hours back from 9 am to 6 am to 4 am and now to midnight.
In 2012, Best Buy opened their doors at midnight, but started handing out numbered tickets to queuing shoppers at 10 pm Thursday night. Some of the heavily-advertised deals and bargains would only be available in very limited numbers – perhaps 10 or 20 per store – and so only those first few shoppers in line when tickets were handed out had any chance of getting the advertised prices on these goods.
Read the fine print of Black Friday ads to find out whether certain items are offered in restricted numbers, what time you need to be in line and whether “free” or discounted Black Friday offers actually work through a delayed rebate system. Arm yourself with all the information before deciding to head to a store in the middle of a November night.
Sometimes the best Black Friday deals aren’t found in stores. Once you’ve compiled your shopping list this holiday season, check out your favorite retailers’ prices online. Many stores and online retailers even offer discounts up to and beyond Black Friday, or deals such as free shipping over Thanksgiving week. Some retailers offer to match prices found elsewhere. Shopping online doesn’t feel like such a participatory “event” as heading to the mall or store on Black Friday, but it’s a lot more time-efficient and relaxed.