With all the hoopla over stores opening on Thanksgiving, people who shop on Black Friday don’t seem so crazy any more, do they? Suddenly, waking up early the day after Thanksgiving to take advantage of deals is starting to look downright sensible in comparison.
If you decide to shop on Black Friday, consider these tried and true ways to maximize your time.
•Stay home on Thanksgiving. Not just because – hello! – it’s Thanksgiving, but because you will actually be able to shop more easily and still snag many of the deals the early birds get.
The earlier Thanksgiving hours have completely changed traffic patterns. With big stores opening around dinner time, things die down significantly between around 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. Some places, such as Walden Galleria and Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls, are having Midnight Madness parties to try to keep the overnight momentum going, while others, such as Cabela’s, will have doorbuster events at 5 a.m., but the wee hours should still be pretty sparse. Snuggle into the recliner after dessert and snooze until about 2 a.m. You’ll be able to enjoy the full holiday and head out well rested without having to fight (as hard) for a parking space.
• Shop online. Most of the deals available in brick-and-mortar locations are available on those stores’ websites. Even stores that are not opening on Thanksgiving, such as Sam’s Club, will have Black Friday-type deals online. Last year, online shopping traffic peaked at about 10:30 p.m., so shop before then to increase your chances of snagging limited doorbuster deals, suggests Offers.com.
• Make a plan of attack. Study store circulars, compare prices, make shopping lists and know the layout of the stores you’ll visit. Schedule which stores to hit when. Black Friday is not for browsing, ladies and gentlemen.
• Use price matching. Walmart, Newegg and Bed, Bath & Beyond will match Black Friday pricing (not limited-quantity doorbusters), and Best Buy, Sears, Toys R Us and Target will match some online and competitor store prices. Every company has its own restrictions, so study each store’s policy, know what qualifies, and bring proof of the competing price to be matched.
• Use smartphone apps to compare prices, make lists, track deals and access store ads. Try TGI Black Friday, Black Friday by FatWallet, Black Friday 2014 by Slickdeals and Black Friday 2014 by BuyVia, All are free. To keep track of spending and stay on budget, try free apps from Mint.com, Cashish and PocketMoney Lite.
• Sign up for texts and emails from stores to receive coupons directly.
• Charge your phone and, depending on how long you’ll be out, bring your phone charger.Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls, for instance, has charging stations with power outlets throughout the entire mall.
• Remember that not every sale on Black Friday is a good deal. You’re likely to find great prices on certain TVs, video games, Apple gadgets and small kitchen appliances, but clothing, jewelry and holiday decor will all come down in price as the season wears on, according to research by Andrea Woroch of Kinoli Inc.
• Take advantage of pre-Black Friday sales. Retailers such as Walmart, Best Buy, Target, Amazon and Toys R Us already have Black Friday events going on, and many, such as Walmart, Target and Gander Mountain, will extend sales throughout the weekend.