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How to Prepare for Black Friday Shopping

The day after Thanksgiving is known as Black Friday and kicks off the beginning of the holiday shopping season in the United States. You can have a successful shopping experience on Black Friday if you prepare beforehand. Look for the best deals, compare prices, make a list of items you wish to buy, and stick to a budget. You should also read up on return policies, be prepared to wait in long lines, wear comfortable clothes and shoes, and bring snacks and drinks with you

Finding the Best Deals

1. Scour store advertisements for hot deals. Ads usually provide the most information about Black Friday specials. Get a newspaper, or visit store websites, and read through the advertisements to find out what items are being marked down. Look out for items you need that may be on sale, such as appliances like televisions.[1]

2. Use social media websites to locate Black Friday sales. Often, deals are advertised online through social media. Visit Facebook pages or Twitter feeds of your favorite stores, or do a search that includes the keywords "Black Friday" to find specific deals. Consider who you plan to buy holiday gifts for and look for hot deals on items they may like.[2]

3. Get notified about sales from smartphone apps. Many stores have their own apps that showcase their Black Friday deals, so download a few of your favorite stores’ apps and enable notifications about deals. You can also download apps, such as "ShopSavvy" or "Black Friday Survival Guide," that will deliver Black Friday deals and updates to your phone.[3]

  • If you’re looking for a specific product, enable alerts on your phone when deals on that item are posted.

4. Search for online coupons from manufacturers and retailers. You may be able to reduce the price of desirable items even further by using coupons in conjunction with sales. Many stores even release special Black Friday coupons, so do an Internet search to find them from retailer stores as well as manufacturers of specific items.[4]

5. Compare prices on the same products between different retail stores. Search for a specific item on several stores’ websites, or compare their print ads. Find out where you can get the most bang for your buck by choosing the store that has the cheapest price on an item.[5]

  • Some retailers will price-match items from other stores, so you may be able to make it a one-stop trip if one company will match the prices of others.

  • Be sure to bring proof, in the form of a print ad or website price, of the item to be price-matched to the store where you plan to purchase it

Creating a Shopping Strategy

1. Make a list of the items that you plan to buy. Now that you’re aware of all the best Black Friday deals, make a list of items you wish to purchase. A list will help you stick to your budget, eliminate impulse buying, and avoid dealing with returns. Refer to this list multiple times throughout your Black Friday shopping experience.[6]

2. Set a budget and stick to it. Avoid falling into the trap of buying things you don’t really need or want just because they’re on sale. Calculate approximately how much money you will spend to purchase the items on your list, and allocate only that much money for Black Friday shopping. You could also set aside a small amount for a single impulse buy.[7]

3. Determine store hours for places you plan to visit. Many stores have special sale hours for Black Friday and may even be open on Thanksgiving. Call the store or visit their website to determine when the store opens and closes. You can also find out if camping or waiting outside the store will be permitted.[8] Take note of “doorbusters” and other deals in which reduced prices are only good during certain hours (e.g., 6 to 10 a.m.).

4. Read up on each company's Black Friday policies. Find out about the rules regarding refunds and returns before venturing out into the crowds. Some Black Friday items may not be eligible for return or exchange, or you may have to pay a restocking fee to do so.[9] Keep all your receipts of purchases made on Black Friday for returns as well as accounting purposes.[10]

5. Bring coupons or advertisement documentation with you to the stores. As you search for deals, cut or print out ads and coupons you find. This documentation will help avoid confusion or disputes that may arise from instances such as incorrect pricing or labeling.[11]

6. Stay at home and shop on the Internet. If you dread the idea of braving the crowds, do your Black Friday shopping online. You’ll eliminate dealing with long lines or frantic shoppers and still be able to get great deals. Some companies may even offer free shipping or exclusive online deals on Black Friday.[12]

Braving the Crowds Comfortably

1. Get enough sleep, eat a good breakfast, and stretch before shopping. Take care to go to sleep early on Thanksgiving day if you plan to start shopping at the crack of dawn. You should also eat a good breakfast and drink plenty of water while shopping. Stretch in the morning to loosen your muscles and joints and prepare for a busy day.
2. Dress appropriately and comfortably. Check the weather before deciding what to wear to avoid cutting your trip short due to being too cold or hot. Wear layers of comfortable clothes, such as loose shorts or pants with a cotton shirt and sweater. You may also need a coat and/or an umbrella.[13] Wear comfortable shoes for standing in long lines and doing lots of walking. Make sure your shoes are waterproof if rain or snow is in the forecast.
3. Pack food and drinks. Snacks and drinks will keep your energy and hydration levels up throughout the day, preventing you from feeling sick, tired, or dizzy. However, be sure that the stores you visit allow outside food and drinks, as some may make you toss them out before heading into the store.[14]
4. Calm yourself before the craziness. Black Friday crowds can get a bit wild, so take the time to calm your mind before you go shopping. Try a few deep breathing exercises or engage in yoga or meditation before heading out into the crowds.
5. Take a shopping partner to help out. Shopping with a friend or family member has many advantages. You can keep each other company, hold each other's places in long lines if restroom breaks are needed, or split up briefly to take advantage of deals that may occur at the same time.[15]
6. Bring entertainment items. Expect to wait in long lines on Black Friday, as thousands of other customers are also out there looking for the best deals. To help you pass the time, create a new music playlist, bring a book to read, or plan to catch up on emails.[16]
7. Get in line early. If an item you want is popular with other shoppers, you’ll want to get in line early to make sure you get one before the store runs out of them. Some stores also give freebies to a certain number of the first customers in line or through the door.[17]
8. Take advantage of the Black Friday ticket system. Select retail stores will hand out tickets to people waiting in line for popular sale items. The number of tickets will correspond with the exact quantity of the product. Get in line early to make sure you can get a ticket for the item you want to buy. Then, when the doors open, locate your item and take it and the ticket to the register to check out.[18] The ticket system is only used at certain stores on Black Friday, so if you plan to take advantage of this, be sure to find out if the store(s) you will be going to plan to use this system.
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