Every year, millions of Americans wake up early the day after Thanksgiving, brave traffic, and fight crowds to shell out hard-earned cash for the cheapest electronics, clothes, and household items of the year. If you’re a Black Friday shopper, start your prep with our top 10 Black Friday tips, divided into three categories: Do Your Research, The Big Day, and For Your Sanity.
We want your Black Friday to be low-stress and epically productive. After all, if you’re not having any fun, you may as well as stay home and enjoy those Thanksgiving leftovers.
Do Your Research
Turn to tech. Check your favorite retailers’ web sites to check on the best deals. If you don’t find exactly what you’re looking for, or suspect you might be able to find an even better deal elsewhere, scan a Black Friday sales aggregating website like BFAds, TheBlackFriday or SlickDeals.
You’ll also want to consider the available apps, as these are maybe the best way of staying abreast of those sales that go on throughout the day. Look for Black Friday 2015 (Android & iOS), Black Friday (Android & iOS), TGI Black Friday 2015 (Android or iOS), and Black Friday by BradsDeals (Android or iOS). All are free.
Plan a budget. Drawing up a Black Friday budget is a must to help rein in those impulse buys. Stores make a killing on people getting caught up in the overall frenzy of the day, snatching up items they didn’t originally intend to buy.
Make a list of what you need. Write down exactly what you need—both holiday gifts and other items that might happen to be on sale. While Black Friday is a great day for electronics, clothes, toys, and other goods, keep in mind that many items—household items especially—see their prices slashed after the holidays, when stores need to make room for new stock and bargain shopping is the last thing on people’s minds.
The Big Day
Think about transportation. Braving the crowds is really only half the battle when it comes to Black Friday—fighting traffic and finding a decent parking space can be serious tests of your patience. Minimize these trials by having a friend or family member drop you off in front of the stores, or consider Uber, Lyft or even public transit.
Make geography work for you (divide and conquer). Like all successful battle plans, yours should take geography into consideration. Draw a map of all the stores you want to visit and figure out which ones you’ll want to hit first, as well as which ones you’ll want to visit at certain times, when those mid-day sales come up. If you’re shopping with a friend or family member, split up with specific goals and missions in mind, and you might increase your chances of getting popular sale items. Just be sure your phones are charged up so that you can keep up with one another.
Bring your own bags. While all stores provide bags for your purchases, it’s not a bad idea to bring your own, since they’re likely to be stronger and easier to haul around. It also minimizes the chances of another shopper mistaking his or her purchases for yours.
For your sanity
Have a plan B. Doorbusters can go fast, so research viable alternatives for your must-have items. If the model in the flyer is already sold out, you’ll know 2-3 other options that also look like good deals.
Bring snacks. It may sound funny to say you need sustenance for your journey, but standing in long lines with low blood sugar is no laughing matter. Ensure that your body is ready for the big day by planning meals and snacks into your shopping expedition. Take a water bottle with you and fill it up at water fountains. Stick with healthy stuff like salads and steamed vegetables. This is the day after Thanksgiving, after all, and your body might need a break!
Take breaks. Rushing around fighting crowds for hours on end will add up to one thing: Exhaustion. Even though Black Friday can feel hectic, it’s all what you make it. Take a moment between stores to sit down and do a little people-watching. Enjoy a coffee and visit with your shopping buddy, or jot down a few notes about family plans for the holiday season.
However you do it, happy shopping!