Ready, set, stop — are you gearing up to get your shop on, starting this Friday and lasting through Cyber Monday? ‘Tis the weekend for huge deals and must-have bargains, so if you’re planning to shop till you drop, be prepared to make the most of your efforts. You don’t want to go to all that trouble and have nothing to show but a car full of empty Starbucks cups.
Before you embark on your shopping journey, here’s my ultimate guide to making the weekend as awesome as possible, both for you and those shopping around you.
If you’re worried about tantrums on your day of holiday shopping, check out our 5 tips from a single mom of 3 for surviving shopping with kids, and plan ahead with our best Black Friday sales!
Tips for Black Friday Shopping
Though the word “black” refers to profitability, it can also be used to describe the dark side of the day — long lines, pushy shoppers, low inventory, and tired cashiers. Here’s how to get what you want and still be a pleasant (dare I say, stellar?) consumer, even in the face of challenging shopping conditions.
Tip #1: Do your part
Be sure you know each store’s hours. This year many are pulling back a bit and allowing employees to spend more time with their families. Also, call ahead to see if a popular item is in stock or how large of an inventory they expect — some stores will deeply discount a particular item but stock only a handful of them on the shelves.
Just remember it’s the manufacturers who largely control inventory, not the store, so don’t take your frustration out on the person answering the phone.
Tip #2: Look online for this year’s must-haves
I mean, if you like the rush of adrenaline from the mad dash to the aisle with the latest Shopkins toy or hottest video game, then go for it. But if you’d rather do without that stress, search online and avoid the in-store competition. You can even use your mobile to shop online while you’re waiting in line to purchase other items. Which brings me to my next point.
If you’re shopping online for a hot deal, be sure to check out our full list of the top Black Friday sales!
Tip #3: Your smartphone is your BFF
When it comes to shopping, there’s no better companion than your phone. There are price comparison apps with barcode scanners. GPS apps to tell you the quickest way to the next store. Emails with in-store offers that you can pull up at the register. And don’t forget the Coupons.com app — when you turn on notifications, it will alert you of nearby deals that you might not be aware of.
Bonus tip: The Coupons.com app will also allow you to print your grocery coupons right from your device before your next grocery run.
Tip #4: But when you’re checking out, hang up your cell phone
Clerks may not need you to scan and bag items, but they might have a question and do require prompt payment. Plus, you’ll avoid dirty looks from the shoppers in line behind you.
Tip #5: Treat the store you’re shopping in with respect
If you drop something, pick it up. If you move something, put it back. If you spill something, clean it up. Don’t use the express lane if you don’t have an express load. Just remember basic shopping etiquette, even on this day of chaos.
Tip #6: Be friendly and smile
You’ll be amazed at the positive response you’ll get from the people around you. Let a manager know if you appreciate an employee who went above and beyond for you. Say thanks to another shopper who helps you find something. Mood is contagious, and positive reinforcement works.
Cyber Monday Shopping Tips
Tip #1: Make a list and check it twice
It helps prevent unnecessary impulse buys. As with Black Friday, many merchants announce their online offers well in advance. Check Coupons.com for a great roundup of Cyber Monday deals available from hundreds of merchants, as well as coupon codes.
Tip #2: Protect yourself
Online shopping has become so commonplace, people forget about the risks. With tons of shoppers eager to transmit credit card info on Cyber Monday, scammers are salivating. To protect yourself, download the latest updates for your anti-virus and spyware software. Also, make sure any checkout page is secure by looking for the “https” in the address.
Tip #3: Shop with friends
I mean, why not? Just because you’re shopping online, that doesn’t mean you can’t invite some others along. In fact, you could host a Cyber Monday shopping party, and with several of you searching online at the same time, you might be amazed at the deals you’ll discover.
Tip #4: Know the details
Each Cyber Monday offer has information about when it starts and how many items are available. Pay attention to the fine print and set your alarm if you’re hoping to score a deal that begins at 12:01 a.m.
Tip #5: Read reviews
Some of Monday’s markdowns are attempts to unload junk and make room for something better. When you’re shopping for high-priced items like TVs, go to stores and compare features you can’t view online, like picture and sound quality. Try CNET for reviews of consumer items from cell phones to slow cookers.
Tip #6: Peruse social media for your favorite brands
Photo by Gil C
If you haven’t already, like your favorite stores on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, or find them on Pinterest. In the days leading up to Cyber Monday, some stores will post additional offers exclusive to their social media followers. Plus, it keeps you in the know about latest deals, sales and promotions.
Tip #7: Do as much in advance as possible
Get ready by bookmarking your favorite sites in advance. Keep them open in different tabs so switching from one store to the next is easy. If a merchant requires you to create an account before purchasing, do it now. And be sure to check Coupons.com often for the latest online sales. It’s much easier to let professionals aggregate the best deals and steals so you can find them all in one place.