Hey, that’s not hyperbole. It’s fact: the day after Thanksgiving this year is November 23, the earliest day of the month it’s been in years. Since it’s never too early to get ready, here are five handy tips and tricks you can’t live without.
1. Research is crucial.
If you don’t want to bother with research and strategic planning, then you may as well not go. Gone are the days when you could just run down to your favorite store, bright and early Black Friday morning, and get in line. There are so many stores offering Black Friday deals, each with competitive prices, each opening at different hours of the day. Many major retail chains now open at midnight Thanksgiving night. (Toys ‘R’ Us takes the cake, opening at 9:00pm on Thanksgiving!) Fortunately, every single Black Friday ad will be easy to find online, most of them several days or even weeks before the day itself, so you can peruse and compare prices from the comfort of your home. There may even be extra special deals if you know where to look, like what you can find at Cheap Sally Coupons. Smartphone apps are also very helpful for planning. And don’t forget that some retailers promise to match the prices of their competitors, so head for stores that others might be ignoring. Bottom line: Go in prepared, or just stay home!
2. Factor in extra time.
It seems obvious, but it’s easy to forget amid all the hustle and bustle: This is no average day at the mall. Wherever you go to shop, it’s going to be packed, shoulder-to-shoulder, can’t-hardly-move kind of busy. Say goodbye to personal space, and be prepared to park very far from the entrance. Traffic on major roadways will be insane, check-out lines will be super long (especially at Walmart, where they never seem to have more than 10% of their check-out lanes open), and everything you do will take considerably longer than usual. Plan accordingly.
3. A little kindness goes a long way.
Everybody’s going to be stressed out. It’s just the nature of the beast. Everybody wants to score that awesome deal, and everybody wants to get there before the good stuff is sold out. But Black Friday does not give you permission to ignore basic human courtesy and respect. Don’t get so consumed by your mission that you’re rude, mean, careless, or just downright cruel to the other shoppers around you. It’s not worth it.
4. Don’t shop alone.
Friends don’t let friends shop alone. A sidekick can be not just great for moral support, but can be useful in numerous ways, too. Have your friend man the checklist, so you can concentrate on navigating the store. Some department stores have lines inside where you have to wait to get your hands on a limited number of the really great stuff, like flatscreen TVs, so you could have your friend get in line while you continue shopping. Friends are helpful for security, too: You might need someone to guard your belongings in your cart (such as purses, diaper bags, and even that amazing deal item you snatched up before anyone else could).
5. Don’t forget the gift receipt!
Unless you’re shopping for yourself (it’s alright, we all do it), getting a gift receipt is all-important. Why take that extra step for a friend or family member who may need to return or exchange your gift? Because after Black Friday, the best discounts will vanish. Sales continue to abound at many retailers throughout December, but the stuff that’s on sale on Black Friday is usually only on sale on Black Friday. Gift receipts help the people you’re shopping for ensure that they’ll be able to take advantage of the same price that you paid.
With some careful thought and creative planning, you can work Black Friday like a pro.