Black Friday is arguably the biggest shopping event in America, famous for YouTube-worthy video footage of shoppers acting like a swarm of piranhas when the doors swing open. I’ve never wanted anything badly enough to spend the night in a tent in a Best Buy parking lot, armed with hand warmers and a sleeping bag, so I’ve never experienced the craze in person. Black Friday is almost like the USA’s running of the bulls—it’s thrilling but dangerous.
Thankfully, a lot of retailers have begun to offer the same deals online as they do in brick and mortar stores, negating the need for a post-Thanksgiving dinner slog to the mall. This year, I think that retailers will have to rely heavily on online sales, as social distancing will make it challenging to attain the same volume of sales with in-store shopping. On the other hand, this might provide a better way to conduct future sales, as the limited occupancy rules of pandemic shopping will eliminate the mad dash that usually happens, and ensure that items really are sold based on a first-come, first-served basis.
I view Black Friday as the perfect opportunity to get Christmas shopping done, stock up on necessities, or buy an expensive gadget or appliance that would otherwise be unaffordable at full price. If you play your cards right, you could come away from your Black Friday shopping spree feeling especially financially savvy due to careful planning. So let’s talk about how you can do just that.
Black Friday is the perfect opportunity to get Christmas shopping done, stock up on necessities, or buy an expensive gadget or appliance that would otherwise be unaffordable.
1. Start to Make a List Now
Think about what purchases you could really save on. Have you been needing to replace your computer? Or perhaps need a new washing machine? Do you plan to gift a loved one a video game console? Maybe you’ve been planning a huge beauty haul from your favorite e-tailer but haven’t been able to justify the cost. Chances are, these items will be on sale in November since pretty much every online seller offers some sort of deal that day.
As you make your list, make sure to note what the current prices are in order to avoid any dishonest pricing that some stores have been rumored to practice, marking products up in the weeks before the sale and then reducing the price to the original cost during the sale.
2. Check Out Preview Flyers
A lot of stores are starting to release their Black Friday sales previews, so you could actually start to make a solid plan now, and get a solid idea of how much you’ll be spending when the day arrives. The preview flyers or web pages will usually have information about what time the sale starts in addition to the price, so pay attention to that.
If you’re planning to purchase a highly sought-after product, it’s not a bad idea to plan to place your order right when the sale starts. For instance, if your favorite serum is on sale starting 11 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, set a timer for 10 minutes before and click through to the product page, refreshing when the clock strikes 11. After a few minutes of clicking and typing, you can go to sleep knowing that you’ve successfully snagged a great deal.
3. Compare Prices
While you’re doing your research, compare prices across a number of stores that carry the same item to ensure that you’ll be getting the best deal. In addition, some retailers will offer early bird deals that begin the night before, which might be cheaper than shopping on the day of.
Also research which stores will be offering Cyber Monday deals and how they compare to Black Friday. In 2018 and 2019, retailers seemed to offer deeper discounts on Cyber Monday. But with the unprecedented nature of this year’s holiday season, it’s unclear whether the trend will continue. It doesn’t hurt to do some research.
Some retailers will offer early bird deals that begin the night before, which might be cheaper than shopping on the day of.
4. Don’t Stray
Stick to your list! Don’t be dazzled by the allure of a 50% sale if you had no previous plans to shop said sale or do not need those items. If an item costs $100 dollars and you save $50 with a Black Friday sale, you actually didn’t really save any money in the end because you wound up spending money that you didn’t budget for. So don’t feel obligated to purchase anything just because the price is attractive. It’s not worth the high credit card balance.
5. Channel Your Inner Accountant
Don’t be afraid to whip out your phone and do some calculations before you make a purchase. Some percentages might sound like a good deal but might only save you a couple of bucks when the discount is deducted. Black Friday isn’t necessarily the best time to purchase every single thing. Some products are available with deeper discounts at other times of the year, especially considering retail cycles.
6. Keep Your Receipts
Just in case you experience buyer’s remorse, make sure to have your receipts handy for returns. Be informed of the individual store return policies as well. If you’re shopping for gifts on Black Friday, you could find an option you like better before Christmas or like another version of the item better. Not all stores have handy rewards systems for looking up past purchases without a receipt, and so it’s best to be prepared. Consider getting a gift receipt also, to give the recipient the option of exchanging the present for something they’d like better.
I hope these tips have left you feeling better prepared and a little less anxious about Black Friday. To summarize, just remember that the most important parts of the process are research, budgeting, and preparation.