A Comprehensive Guide to Shopping on Black Friday

Black Friday

If the only thing you love more than turkey is a great deal, you’ll know that the holiday season means one thing and one thing only… Black Friday. The biggest shopping day of the year is the one day that shoppers get to stock their carts to the brim and not worry about the size of the bill at the end of it. It’s a day for deals… and disasters. Because make no mistake, unless you go into Black Friday with a firm plan of action, a strict budget, and a very clear idea of the do’s and dont’s of deal hunting, you might come away from the experience feeling more than a twinge of buyer’s remorse. Regardless of whether you’re shopping online or in-store, here’s everything you need to know about shopping on Black Friday.

Get Prepared

As which.co.uk says, it’s not unusual for websites to slow to a crawl on Black Friday due to the increased traffic. As popular deals tend to go fast, it’s a good idea to get everything prepared well in advance. If you haven’t already done so, set up online accounts with all your favorite retailers and save your shipping and payment details to them. That way, you can quickly complete your purchase when the deals start to go live without having to waste time with the admin.

Get Your Game Plan in Place

If you’re planning on braving the crowds and doing Black Friday the old-fashioned way (i.e. leaving your laptop at home and hitting some real live shops) do as hip2save.com recommends and make sure you’ve got a game plan in place. Research where the best deals will be, what stores you’re going to need to hit up, and what the opening hours of those stores are. In case any items run out before you get to them, find out where else they’ll be available and at what price. Write it all down on a piece of paper, and, if possible, sketch out a rough store plan so you know exactly where each item will be. This is your game plan – keep it safe, keep it secure, and keep it with you at all times.

Get Comfy

If you plan on celebrating Black Friday by hitting the streets rather than the world wide web, make sure you’re as mentally and physically prepared as you can be. Wear suitable shoes (this is not the day for heels) and your comfiest clothes. Pack some water so you can stay hydrated and a few snacks to keep your energy up. Hopefully, this advice won’t apply in future years, but in light of the effect of the pandemic on businesses, it’s worth checking out each stores Covid-19 policies in advance. Find out if there’ll be any changes to their usual Black Friday hours, what the mask policies are, or if there are any limits to store capacity. It could even be a case that some stores will opt out of opening altogether and run the sale purely online to avoid any issues. When you do finally make it to the stores, the most important thing to remember is to keep your cool. As missmillmag.com says, Black Friday is one of the most stressful days in the calendar for retail staff – no matter how stressed you get during your shopping spree (and make no mistake – you’re going to get stressed), don’t take your frustrations out on the nearest person wearing a name badge. If it all gets too much, dump the game plan and head home – there’s a very good chance that everything you want is online anyway.

Start Sooner Than Later

If you want to get the biggest and best deals you can, don’t wait till Black Friday to start shopping. These days, Black Friday is more of a season than a day, with retailers starting their sales earlier and earlier each year – it’s not unknown for some stores to start offering big discounts from early November. Leave your plans till the last minute, and there’s a good chance other shoppers will have already jumped in and snapped up all the best deals. It’s particularly important to start early if you’re planning on coming home with any of the latest must-have electronics. “There are certain items that you shouldn’t wait until Black Friday or Cyber Monday to shop,” Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst at shopping site DealNews.com tells consumerreports.org. “For instance, any of the newer game consoles are going to be hard to find, and it’s unlikely we’ll see discounts for Black Friday and Cyber Monday anyway.”

Get on the Mailing List

One of the best ways to get ready for Black Friday is to sign up to the mailing list of your favorite retailer… actually, make that any retailer that might have something you’re interested in, even if you’re not sure what yet. Not every store kicks off its sale on the same day, but by being on the mailing list, you can be sure you’ll be one of the first to know which day the deals start going down. As an added advantage, many stores will offer a discount to new subscribers, sometimes for as much as 20%. if you want to make your Black Friday shopping spree as budget-friendly as possible, any kind of discount, no matter how small, is definitely going to help. Some of the best retailer mailing lists to sign up for include Bath & Body Works, Bed Bath & Beyond, Best Buy, Costco, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Target, and Walmart.

Get Social

Signing up to a mailing list is a great way of keeping abreast of Black Friday developments, but there’s still more work to be done. The next step is to get social. If you like a store, follow them on social media. Not only will it make them feel appreciated, it’ll also give you a heads up about what kinds of deals to expect and maybe even a couple of handy little promo codes to boot. While you’re at it, try downloading their app if they have one- it’s not guaranteed, but it’ll sometimes give you access to extra savings and information about deals.

Take Advantage of Loyalty Programs

Loyalty programs are a great way to apply some extra savings to your purchase. Although it varies by store, many loyalty programs will offer members early access to sales, promotions, and coupons. Some will even give you rewards for what you buy. It’s also a great way to find out more about which items might be eligible for store collection (it’s less convenient than delivery, but usually a lot cheaper), what products are in stock, what products aren’t, and what products are in stock but in such short supply, you’re going to have to act fast if you want to get your hands on it.

Hunt for Codes

When it comes to buying online, any savings you make on the product can often get eaten up by the shipping costs. Fortunately, a lot of retailers get carried away with the festive spirit around this time of the year and drop the free shipping minimums. Those that don’t will sometimes offer free shipping promo codes instead. You might even be lucky enough to find money-saving promo codes for the cost of your item as well. Usually, this will take the form of a discount against a minimum spend. Not all retailers offer them, but it’s worth checking it out just in case you get lucky.

Make a Wishlist

When the deals start pouring in, it’s easy to get a little trigger happy and start buying anything and everything you see. But remember – regardless of how much you save, buying things you don’t want and don’t need just because they’re cheap isn’t an effective shopping strategy. To keep your spending under control, make a wishlist on each of your favorite retailer’s websites in advance. Not only will this help you stick to your budget (and save you trawling through page after page of deals), but it’ll also help you keep an eye on any price drops.

Go Compare

Shopping online makes price comparison a breeze. If you don’t want to pay over the odds for your purchase, be sure to compare the price of the item you’re interested in with different retailers. It may seem like extra work, but if there’s money to be saved, a few clicks of the mouse is definitely worth your time.

Be Sneaky

Sometimes, it pays to get sneaky. Think back to the last time you started online shopping but abandoned your cart mid-way through. Do you remember receiving an email shortly after offering you a nice little sweetener to complete your purchase? If you did, you’re not alone – it’s a common selling tactic and one that benefits both customers and retailers alike. Obviously, there’s no way to guarantee that you’re going to get a discount out of it if you try it on Black Friday, and it’s not necessarily the right approach to take if you’re shopping for a hot item that’s on the verge of disappearing from the shelves. Neither is it a good idea if the clock is ticking down on the sale period. But if you’re shopping early for a well-stocked product, it’s worth a try.

Don’t Be Fooled

Taking advantage of retailers for their discount codes is one thing. Letting them take advantage of you with false advertising is another. Everyone knows that people like deals, and everyone knows that people look at the size of the saving before anything else. And that’s exactly why many retailers inflate retail prices just before a sale. It’s called false benchmarking, and it’s a perfectly legal but very, very sneaky way to make people think they’re getting a better deal than they actually are. Don’t be fooled by it – check out the average retail price for the items you’re interested in well before the sale starts and use that as your benchmark instead.

Be Sensible

Before you start throwing things into your shopping cart, figure out exactly how you’re going to pay for them. No matter how big the savings, Black Friday can still leave a big ding in your wallet if you’re not careful. Not only is it important to work out and stick to a budget, but it’s also worth figuring out the best method of payment. If you have a few credit cards that offer cash back or rewards for purchases, or maybe even a 0% intro APR on purchases, work out which one stands to get you the best amount of rewards and use that. In some cases, it may be best to spread the cost over several cards, depending on the rewards offered by each card. Just remember that whatever card or payment method you end up using, all those deals will lose their luster if you have to spend the next year surviving on bread and water to pay for them.

Don’t Forget to Come Back on Monday

Back before people gave up on shops and started doing everything online, Cyber Monday was the day for online deals and Black Friday was the day for hitting the high street. Now, most people shop online on both days. However, as fairwinds.org says, the deals on Black Friday vs. Cyber Monday are not always created equal. If you want to get the possible deal, spread your shopping list over both days depending on when you can expect to get the best deals. Typically speaking, Black Friday is the best day to bag a bargain on large appliances, large electronics, books, and music. Cyber Monday, meanwhile, is usually best for toys, apparel, and small appliances.

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