How to Survive and Thrive This Black Friday

Disclosure

Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving, an informal “holiday” where retailers offer some of the best deals of the Christmas-shopping season. The “black” part represents profit for the retailers who long ago saw this day as when their annual sales crossed over from losses (red) to gains (black) on their balance sheets.

Shopping has certainly changed across the years, with Black Friday no longer representing a make or break day for retailers. Still, old habits die hard and retailers, knowing that customers are always on the prowl for bargains, continue to use that day as a reason for rolling out deep discounts.

You not only can survive this Black Friday, but thrive. Read on and learn how.

1. Plan ahead. No need to change your Thanksgiving celebration plans, but keep in mind that some retailers now open their stores up Thanksgiving night to give customers the chance to get first dibs on bargains. Some stores stay open through the night, but if you prefer the early morning venturing out, then plan to rise early and shop. Eat your turkey, feast on the pie and watch your favorite football game. Then head out to the mall.

2. Check those hours. While some stores push the envelope by opening up the night before, most retailers wait until the day after Thanksgiving to pitch Black Friday specials. If there is a particular retailer that interests you, then find out what hours the store will be open and plan your visit accordingly. While many stores open at 5 a.m or 6 a.m., some open promptly at 3 a.m., if not earlier. Do not expect workers to be in a cheerful or wakeful mood!

3. Specials by the hour. The savings on Black Friday are some of the best you will see all year. In fact, the deepest savings may be offered at only certain hours, and when those deals are done, the savings may go with it. Keep an eye out for newspaper circulars and online ads that outline what sales will be held and when. Some stores have “door-opening busters” with a set of discounts on select items from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. and a second set of discounts from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. After that, you’ll still see other sale prices, but not on limited-time specials.

4. Get on line. Check the fine print for any ad and you may soon read, “only 20 available per store” or “while supplies last.” This means that when the store has sold out, the item will be gone for good. That tablet device that normally sells for $299 may be going for $149, but only to the first handful of buyers. So, plan on setting your alarm clock real early and heading out to the store and standing online for several hours before it opens. Tip: the most popular items are nearly impossible to get unless you camp out the night before. Yes, pitch a tent and bring the coffee! Bring a friend too, because when you need to use the potty, someone may grab your place in line.

5. Forget the rain check. Some stores will issue you a rain check if an item runs out. Rain checks are not always offered, especially on limited quantity items. Still, retailers like to keep customers happy and it isn’t too difficult to obtain a rain check from a compliant manager for something that is no longer available. Here is why a rain check is a bad idea: typically, it can be weeks before shipment for the item resumes. It could be well after Christmas before that item is restocked, especially if it is in high demand. It can take months for a U.S. retailer to tell a Chinese factory owner to crank out new copies of an item and have these shipped across the Pacific, ported and sent to distribution centers. By the time these items get to stores, you may be singing “Auld Lang Syne” with a very disappointed recipient still waiting for his Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle.

6. Sleep in, wait for Cyber Monday. If thoughts of navigating through throngs at the mall has you unnerved, there is an alternative to Black Friday shopping — Cyber Monday. Taking place the Monday following Thanksgiving weekend, this is where online retailers get in the act and mark down their inventories. If you thought that the bargains were good on Friday, just wait until Cyber Monday — you will find deals without the crowds and may have free shipping included. Online retailers have their own distribution centers packed with seasonal items too, so if your local retailer runs out of something, you may be able to order it online and have it shipped to your home.

Shop or Drop

Post-Thanksgiving shopping can be very fun for some, while others simply skip the hassles and shop online. If you head out to the store, be prepared to face a sea of people and long lines, so put on the comfortable footwear and your coat and be prepared to slog it out for a long day at the mall.

Robert Langdon is a professional blogger that writes for GreatDeals.com. Great Deals offers thousands of coupon codes at hundreds of retailers including Best Buy coupon codes.

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