Thursday, November 24, 2016

The Best Black Friday Shopping Strategies

These Black Friday strategies will help you rise above the crowd. I look forward to shopping on Black Friday every year. I've been doing it for over 30 years now, and I’ve learned more than a few good strategies over the years.

Make a List
What do you want to buy? For whom do you want buy it? What sizes do you need? What colors? Write it down. And bring the list with you. Cross off the items as you purchase them.

Start Early
Start shopping before Black Friday. For years now, retailers have been slowly extending the holiday 
shopping season. Some retailers have started Black Friday sales the week of Thanksgiving. Take advantage of these sales, especially for popular items that may become scarce as we approach Christmas.

Analyze Sales Ads the Day Before  
Look through sales papers to see if the items on your list are on sale. Don't rule out buying gift cards for the hard-to-buy-for loved one.

Clip Coupons
Clip coupons in advance. And bring the coupons with you. Don’t forget to read the fine print. Some coupons are passes that you can use repeatedly. Other coupons have limitations. You may not be able to use them on Bonus Buy items. I hate that.

Understand the Return Policy
Why buy from a retailer if you can’t return an item if you aren’t satisfied? The return policy should be clearly posted in the store. You can also visit a retailer’s website to learn about its return policy. Sometimes return policies are different for different items.

Map out Store Locations According to Time
Many Black Friday coupons are time-sensitive. So, this should determine the order in which you go to retailers.  

Dress Smart
Wear comfortable and practical clothes and accessories: cargo pants, waist pouch or small shoulder strap purse hidden under your jacket, and comfy shoes. Wear a light-weight jacket, even if it’s cold outside. You just need something to keep you warm from your vehicle to the store. Once you reach the mall or large retailer, you will be uncomfortable in a heavy coat, scarf, gloves, and boots. And never wear a turtleneck sweater. I learned the hard way. If it rains, a rain hat is more practical than trying to maneuver an umbrella.

Sustain Yourself
Pack a snack. It’s a tough job navigating through stores. A bag of raw organic nuts can be very filling. This is usually my snack of choice. You can keep them in your pocket or purse. I also recommend you bring a water bottle. Small ones fit nicely in cargo pants pockets. Depending on how long you will be shopping, you may want to bring a practical lunch. In Michigan, it’s usually cold on Black Friday, so leaving your lunch box in the car is usually OK. Remember, everything will be crowded--food courts, fast food restaurants, and bathrooms. If you take medication, even over-the-counter meds, bring them. For future reference, keep one of the empty containers your meds came in. You can use it to put one or two pills in it to carry with you. If you lose the bottle while shopping, you'll still have the remaining meds at home. And if you're stopped by the police, you won't have much explaining to do.

Think about the Weight of it All
Bring along a collapsible shopping bag on wheels. They are helpful for carting heavy items from the store to your vehicle. Consider bringing a back pack or a large tote bag for carrying several small bags.

Fill up the Car
Make sure you have gas in your vehicle. It’s not uncommon to encounter bumper-to-bumper traffic near large shopping centers and malls. This is not a good time to run out of gas.

Choose your Shopping Partners Carefully
Black Friday is not a day the kids will enjoy. Leave them with a reliable sitter. Besides, some of the shopping may be for them anyway. If you shop with a buddy or a group, make sure they have as much stamina as you do. If not, drive in separate vehicles so they can leave when they are ready. Consider splitting up in the store and setting up a meeting time and place. You and your buddies can shop for items in different departments.

First and Last
Go to large department stores first. They usually have the time-sensitive coupons. And they become crowded fast. So, save boutique/small store shopping last. Small retailers are usually not as crowded as large retailers.

Don’t be Sucked In
Avoid the crazy people. When a retailer warns you that quantities are limited, believe them. Don’t even make an attempt to be one of the thousand people vying for one of the few items. To maintain your dignity and your sanity, it’s best to pay a little more money for the item at a different store.

Be Smart
Protect yourself and your possessions. Leave expensive purses and jewelry at home. Don’t go out to your vehicle to put in your packages. If you need to put something in your vehicle, do so, and then drive to another parking space so it appears you are leaving. Place packages in the trunk, not on the seats. Moreover, be alert. Create a plan for what you will do if someone follows you or acts suspiciously. Consider carrying pepper spray, but make sure you can access it quickly.

Say Ahhh
When you return home, draw a bath spiked with Epsom salt (the whole bag) and a few drops of lavender. Soak for at least 15 minutes while you relax and reflect on your conquests.

It Ain’t Really Over
If you believe you’ve missed out on something, look forward to Cyber Monday. This is the big sale day for online shopping.

  • Don’t forget to enter coupon codes when “checking out” your online shopping cart. 
  • Manually select the delivery mode. Some sites have a default setting, which can be the most expensive delivery mode. 
  • Take advantage of free shipping. You may have to order a particular dollar amount though. 
  • Use a credit card, not a debit card. You don’t want to tie up your money if something goes wrong. 
  • Review all options. You may want to pay for it your merchandise online and pick it up in the store. Review the return policy. Some retailers will allow you to return the merchandise at any one of their stores. For other retailers, you may have to pay to ship the merchandise back to the retailer. 
  • Once you make your purchase, check your email for your confirmation number/ticket. Keep this until your merchandise arrives. 
Unfortunately, some people feel the need to "accept" your package(s) for you. So, notify FedEx and/or UPS to establish a delivery plan: a specific day and time you will be home, or let them know you will pick up your package from one of its centers.

What Black Friday memories do you have? This is the story in you. Share it.


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