The first step to being a savvy Black Friday shopper is having a plan. This probably isn’t the day of the year when you just want to show up at the mall for some leisurely window shopping. In order to take advantage of Black Friday deals, you need to know where to shop, when to be there and what to buy. You may even want to put together a Black Friday itinerary. Prioritize your purchases by what’s most important to you, what’s most likely to sell out early, and what time stores are offering their best deals. With your plan in hand and these 15 tips in mind, you’re bound to be one of the best equipped shoppers at the mall this year!
1. Read the ads in advance.
Some Black Friday ads are already out and these truly are your guide to savings. Collect the ads as they come in your email, mailbox or check out websites that aggregates them together. Make a list of what you want to buy, where, and the promoted price.
2. Find the true meaning of the early bird discount.
There can be a real advantage to being the first person in line. Some stores hand out gift cards to the first 100 or so people in line. Belk department store has already announced they will give a free gift card to the first 250 customers at every store when they open their doors at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving. Gift card values range from $5 to $1,000 with a guaranteed $1,000 winner in every store.
3. Look for time sensitive coupons.
On Black Friday you must read the fine print. Many stores will offer coupons that can only be redeemed during specific hours. But if you plan out your Black Friday schedule carefully, you stand to gain a lot of savings by being in the right price at the right time. A.C.Moore is offering 40% off your entire regular-price purchase when you shop between 5 a.m. and noon on Black Friday.
4. Score big with bonus gifts.
During the year, gifts with purchases are typically reserved for cosmetics and fragrances. But around Black Friday, all bets are off! There will be a wide selection of free gifts from retailers on everything you can imagine. When you’re comparing prices, be sure to factor in your gift earning potential. For example, purchase a mattress set at Sears and choose from a free 32-inch TV, a 10-piece cookware set or a $200 Sears Award card.
5. Download all of the right apps.
You don’t want to be standing in line at the register trying to get an app to download before it’s your turn to checkout. So before you shop, download apps for your stores. If you’re heading to Target, definitely check out Target’s Cartwheel app, which is offering a coupon for 50% off one top toy each day until Dec. 24. You also may want to download the Coupons.com mobile app and enable geo-location. It will alert you to nearby offers so you never forget to use a coupon again. You also could benefit from a price comparison app like RedLaser.
6. Look for top deals online.
You don’t need to wait until Cyber Monday to shop online. In fact, this year the majority of Black Friday deals are likely to be online. Of course, there will always be those rock-bottom deals that will only be offered at brick-and-mortar locations. But if you prefer to skip the Black Friday hubbub and shop from the comfort of your home, you can still find great savings. Plus, when you shop online, you can use Black Friday coupon codes to save even more on your purchases.
7. Sign up for email lists.
In addition to downloading store apps, you’ll want to sign up for the email lists. Many deals are time sensitive and there could even be some surprise offers. Checking your emails in the days leading up to Black Friday and periodically on the big shopping day itself, ensures you stay current on the best offers from your favorite stores.
8. Check retailer social media accounts.
Social media is where retailers are most likely to offer any last-minute sales or promotions. Following your favorite stores on social media almost guarantees you will be one of the first to know about can’t-miss offers. Look for retailers offering hashtag contests you can participate in.
9. Sign up for loyalty programs before you shop
There are loyalty programs for just about every type of store. Be sure to sign up before the big day. Some stores will offer bonus points on certain purchases, making it even easier to rack up rewards that can be used toward the rest of your holiday shopping.
10. Read the fine print.
Price match policies and rain checks are great savings strategies, but on Black Friday many stores suspend them. This makes it even more important that you do your research beforehand. Compare prices in Black Friday ads, find the best deal and if it’s an item you really want, find the second best deal so if it’s out of stock, you know where to go. After Black Friday, be sure to take advantage of price matching and rain checks for the rest of the shopping season because they can be great tools.
11. Be cautious of instant credit.
Don’t get caught up in Black Friday fever and start signing up for everything that is offered to you. Opening a new credit card should be a decision you think carefully about on Black Friday and every day of the year. Stores are bound to offer some great instant credit deals when you apply on the spot. If it’s a store you shop at frequently, then it could be beneficial to you, but remember too many inquiries into your credit report in a short amount of time could hurt your credit score.
12. Think twice about extended warranties.
Also think twice before signing up for the extended warranties. Most major credit cards will offer extended warranty protection on purchases made with that card. For example, if your item comes with a two-year warranty, they will protect you for an additional year at no additional cost to you.
13. Think twice about doorbuster deals.
The most popular doorbuster deals are typically electronics, and undoubtedly, you can get some of the best prices on TVs and computers on Black Friday. But don’t get caught up in the Black Friday fervor and snag up doorbusters without doing a little research. Some manufacturers create TVs just for Black Friday and they often have lower specs than their standard models. By spending a little more you may actually get a better value because there are still great deals on all of those other year-round TVs. Plus, then you don’t have to wrestle the crowds to be the first 50 in the door who get the $150 big screen.
14. Go paperless.
Many stores like Macy’s, Nordstrom, Apple and Best Buy offer an e-receipt option. Choosing the paperless option can be a good habit to get into for the holidays when you are juggling so many receipts. If a store does not offer that option, then you may want to immediately scan all receipts into your computer when you get home. Or, stick to the old fashioned approach. Label an envelope “holiday receipts” and start filing away the paper versions, so they’re all in one place when you need them.
15. Use the West Coast advantage.
Many Black Friday online specials will go live when the clock strikes midnight. For those living on the West Coast, that could mean 9 p.m. Thanksgiving evening. So there’s no need to stay up past your bedtime. If you want to be a super shopper, score online deals after you finish your pumpkin pie, get a good night’s sleep and hit the stores early on Friday.