Thursday, November 24, 2016

Top 10 Black Friday Shopping Tips

I've been Black Friday shopping for over 15 years. As an experienced shopper I'd like to offer some tips and advice to novice Black Friday shoppers who plan to brave the cold and crowds on the greatest shopping day of the year!

  1. Buy two newspapers on Thanksgiving morning. Sometimes one paper doesn't have all the ads, so buy a copy of the L.A. Times and the Whittier Daily News to cover all the stores. If you normally get the Sunday paper for the ads/coupons, the newspaper distributors know this and deliver a paper on Thanksgiving to distribute the Black Friday ads. If you don't find one of your porch, go out early and buy it. They sell out fast!  If you are hosting Thanksgiving, you may want to buy two copies of each paper so others can look at the ads as well. You can also look up the ads online now, type in a search with the keywords "Black Friday 2017", you'll find numerous websites that post links to ads that have been leaked or are available online.

  2. Make a plan. Figure out which stores you want to visit and rate them according to bargain priority. If a certain item is on sale for a limited number of hours you want to make sure you hit that store with enough time to park, find the item in the store, and pay. If a store is giving out a free item to the first few hundred customers, but there is nothing pressing that you want to buy there you can wait in line, get the free item and go with plans to return later on to redeem the coupon, voucher, or certificate. If a store is offering price matching, know that the price will only be matched during the same time restrictions as the store in the advertisement.
  3. Leave the little kids at home. A store crowded with bargain hungry people is no place for a young child.
  4. Take the Black Friday ad with you. Occasionally an item won't scan for the advertised price, you can't find an item in the store, or there are varieties of the same item but only one is on sale. It helps to have the ad with you to clarify any misunderstandings.
  5. Bring a friend. It helps to have someone to tag team with. In 2010, the line to check-out at Toys R Us snaked the whole way around the store and zigzagged through the aisles so far back that no one really knew if it was the line or not. If you find yourself in a similar predicament, one person can hold a place in the check out line and the other can shop, then trade places. At Kohls on Black Friday the line to check out throughout the day was over an hour long. A friend also comes in handy in cold weather; one year my sister came out to wait with me at Sears. We took turns holding our spot in line, getting warm in the car, and going to the bathroom.
  6. Know the layout of the store. Try to stick with stores that you are familiar. If you've never visited the store before it may be difficult to find a clerk to help you find something in the advertisement.
  7. Line up early.  A few years ago I went to a large retail store and was a few minutes late for the opening. I saw the line to enter curve around the building into the darkness. Instead of going to the end of the line I waited in the car for the end to come to the front of the store. BIG MISTAKE! I saw people who arrived at the same time as I did enter the store 15 minutes before me. There were so many people arriving that the end kept growing and growing. Even if the item you want isn't the big TV, get in line early.  Due to building capacity restrictions many stores will limit the number of people in the store at once. In 2011 Toys R Us opened at 9pm, and line to enter lasted until 3am!
  8.  Skip the shopping cart. Some stores are so packed that it is impossible to navigate the aisles with a cart. You'll have to leave your cart at the end of the aisle and risk someone picking through it, or abandon it altogether. If possible carry everything in your hands. If you must have a cart opt to bring a stroller instead. A stroller is smaller and narrower than a cart and it's easier to get through the crowds. However, if you absolutely have to have a shopping cart bring one in from the parking lot, many times the store does not have the staff to round up the carts and bring them inside, all the available carts are in the lot.
  9. Get your car ready. Fill up the gas tank. I don't know how many gas stations are open after midnight, but I'm sure you don't want to find out. Clean out the trunk. You'll need space for all the bargains you will bring home. You don't want to leave packages in the passenger area, it's too tempting for a would be thief.
  10. It's okay to leave. If it gets too intense, the wait gets too long, people are starting to get angry, or you are tired, it's okay to go home empty handed. You can't win them all.

 BONUS TIP #1: If you want to avoid the first major rush of crowds and most of the lines, head out around midnight. This works well if the items you want are not any of the main doorbusters or a limited quantity items and you were looking to simply get the discount available to all early shoppers. If shopping for clothes and the size you want isn't available, take home the exact item in a different size and return to the store in a week when the stock is replenished to exchange the item.
BONUS TIP #2: Make sure Black Friday sale prices are significantly better than regular sale prices. Use your knowledge of sales throughout the year to compare the Black Friday price to regular sales throughout the year. If it's not a significant discount do not make that store a priority. I remember one year the Children's Place offered 30% off everything in the store for Black Friday. I can usually get a 20% off coupon and use my Children's Place credit card to get an additional 5% off which is pretty close to the Black Friday sale the store was running. Another store was offering $10 off all jeans, but my sister said that $10 off of jeans sale is pretty common. A few years back I waited six hours in line at Sears to get 55% off of a washer/dryer set. Throughout the following year I scanned the Sears ads and the lowest sales price at any other time was 37% off, so I know I bought it at a good price.

1 comment:

  1. Great tips, especially the Walmart price matching. I did not know about it and it seems like a great opportunity to pick up items that might not be available at other stores.

    I am still debating if I will be out on Black Friday. The only thing I really want to pick up is the DS that is on sale at Walmart.

    It is nice to find a local blogger...I will be visiting again soon!