14 Tips to Help You Win Black Friday
Retailers have already begun getting ready for Black Friday, their most competitive day of the year. That means you can start preparing now for how, where and when you plan to shop that day and the days that follow through Cyber Monday.
To make the most of the biggest, crazy-making shopping day this year, you need a strategy. Consider the following suggestions before leaving home or powering up your device on Black Friday.
1. Make Two Lists
“You need to set financial expectations and research items in advance to avoid overspending with spontaneous shopping,” said Chelsea Hudson, the credit card expert at TopCashback, an online cashback and rebates site. “Make a list of friends and family members you plan to buy gifts for and decide on a budget for each person.”
You might want to let the list sit for a few days, in case you forgot someone. Make another list of any décor items, wrapping paper, ribbon, tape, etc. you need, and decide how much you intend to spend on these products.
Now you’ve developed your shopping budget. To ensure you have a smooth holiday shopping experience, Hudson says, it’s important to set financial expectations and research items in advance.
2. Take Advantage of Social Media
Hudson recommends signing up for your favorite retailers’ newsletters and rewards programs, and following them on all the social media sites where they have a presence. You’ll get the inside scoop on all their sales and deals, she says.
“Retailers often offer exclusive deals to their social media fans that the normal public won’t see,” says Hudson.
To make these constant emails less annoying, open a new email account for messages from retailers. You can close this account after the holidays if you like. Sarah Hollenbeck, the shopping and retail expert at BlackFriday.com, says Instagram is the best social media platform for shopping during the holidays. She also notes, as it gets closer to Black Friday, social media deals become more frequent.
3. Add to Your App Collection
Apps exist for price comparison, to collect rewards and for many other reasons.
To find good deals, check out ShopSavvy, SlickDeals and of course, the Amazon app. Although not an app, Offers.com should be your shopping buddy for deals and discounts. Forgot a coupon you’d cut out and left on the kitchen table? No worries. Find it on SnipSnap. With Shopkick, you can earn rewards that accrue and turn into gift cards when you shop with their partner retailers.
4. Don’t Forget a Map App, Too
If you plan to spend some time in the mall, where parking lots can extend to the horizon, Hollenbeck recommends saving your parking location to GoogleMaps so you’re not wandering around trying to find your car with all your purchases in hand.
Just tap on the blue dot on the app after you’re parked.
5. Sharpen Your Tactical Plan
You don’t want to find yourself a statistic in the worst holiday shopping mistakes, so prepare ahead of time.
“Don’t make the rookie mistake of plunging into Black Friday and shopping blindly,” said Hudson. “Instead craft a plan to help you shop strategically.”
Prioritize the retailers that have the best deals for your most-wanted items, Hudson says. Jot down the stores’ hours and how long the promotion you’re interested in lasts. Doorbusters are often limited in quantity. Try to cluster your shopping destinations geographically, if possible, so you don’t end up backtracking. Planning will save you both time and money.
6. Shop in Your PJs
Does the idea of getting up at zero dark thirty, showering and dressing just to snag the best deals of the day make you cringe? If so, Hollenbeck recommends buying what you need on your phone, notebook or laptop while lounging in bed. You may be able to choose from every product a retailer offers. Some stores even have online-only sales.
“On Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the weekend between, you can still get bargains online,” said Hollenbeck. “Retailers offer doorbusters on their sites because they know many people don’t want to leave their holiday guests.”
7. Know Who Matches Prices
This requires some in-depth studying, but keeping in mind different retailers’ price-matching policies can help you save some money and time running to another store.
Best Buy says they won’t be beat on price. Kohl’s will match a competitor’s price of an in-store item if you have a copy of the competitor’s ad with the date on it. Walmart agrees to a lower price you find from an online retailer for the identical item they have in stock.
Check out the fine print, too. Watch out for retailers that say in a tiny font that their price matching isn’t in effect on Black Friday or Cyber Monday.
8. Consider Refund Policies
Some gift recipients are going to return what you gave them. According to a 2017 survey conducted by the National Retail Federation (NRF), two-thirds of the people asked returned at least one gift post-holiday. It’s inevitable, so always ask for a gift receipt to make that process a little easier.
The NRF says retailers with generous return policies include Nordstrom, Kohl’s, Bed Bath & Beyond and Costco. Retail expert Steve Dennis adds Neiman Marcus and Land’s End to that list.
If you choose to take an item back, and the retailer denies you a refund, check with your credit card issuer to see if you have purchase protection. They may be able to get your account credited.
9. Pay With a Rewards Card
Shopping on Black Friday means crowds, long lines and new temporary sales associates. That can drain you, so use a credit card that earns rewards for whatever you want most – more cash, a free flight, hotel points, etc. Check your wallet and see if you’re getting the best deal in card rewards now or if a new credit card might be right for you.
Need help deciding on a card? We’re here to help.
10. Power Up Your Electronics Purchases...
Hollenbeck says electronics are a good bet on Black Friday. This year watch for 4K TVs, tablets, e-readers and smart home devices to go on sale. Techradar published that they are already seeing discounts on cameras, phones and video game consoles.
11. …But Know When the Price is Right
Make sure you know what a good price is for the electronics you want to buy. Some retailers are known to raise prices on key items in October and then drop them for Black Friday to trick customers. Top stores to watch for mega electronic steals, as exhibited by past behavior, include Walmart, Best Buy and GameStop.
12. Examine the Ads
On Thanksgiving, while waiting for the turkey to roast, it’s fun to study the big, fat newspaper to see what’s on sale where. However, you can get a head start by checking out the online ads at BlackFriday.com beginning now.
“We have the top predictions for both Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, when we expect to see the hottest ad scans of the season and additional shopping tips to make sure you don’t waste time or money,” said Hollenbeck.
13. Gear Up
Before stepping out the door, do an inventory of what you’ll need to triumph over Black Friday
— Wear comfortable shoes
— Dress in layers to combat heat in stores and chills outdoors
— Bring your phone
— Bring your shopping list
— Cut and carry your coupons
— Put the right credit card in your wallet
— Carry snacks
— Bring a friend for support and to share the experience
14. Adhere to Your Budget
Refer to your list and what you’ve decided to spend on each person and for other holiday-related items. Avoid impulse buys unless they fit into your budget.
You don’t want Black Friday to become a financial nightmare after the first of the year when the bills start rolling in. If you don’t find what you want the day after Thanksgiving, Hollenbeck suggests waiting until similar deals (not as good) become available in December.