Around the middle of October, I start to look forward to late November. The reason? Black Friday. I absolutely love shopping and I love Black Friday.
Every year you see articles about hordes of people descending on stores and going utterly mad. You hear tales of people getting trampled, and all sorts of insanity and you just want to avoid it. So you cower in your home and don’t take advantage of any of the great deals that are out and about. Trust me when I say this a tragedy.
There are ways to avoid the danger zone. I’ve gone shopping on Black Friday for the past two years, and have very wonderful memories of it. I get all my holiday shopping done on Black Friday. I fully plan on going this year.
Here are my tips on how to shop safely on Black Friday…
1) Don’t look for anything specific.
When Black Friday shopping, have a list of items you’d like to run across. I tend to avoid anything too specific, such as a particular brand’s item that you must have. Vague can be good! For instance, if I was looking for colored denim I’d simply have “colored denim” on the list, I wouldn’t have “J Brand cobalt mid rise skinny jean”. Be willing to compromise.
Be open to just looking around. See if anything catches your eye. One year I bought a couple pairs of leggings for about $2 each. I wasn’t looking for them, but I saw them and remembered I didn’t own any leggings.
2) Bring A Friend.
I really cannot stress this point enough. I always go Black Friday shopping with my little sister, Christine. I’ve always seen shopping as a social activity, and having feedback from a pal can really help with sale madness (sale madness: when ugly things start looking good because you’re getting a deal).
Lines can be really long on Black Friday, so it’s important to have someone you can chit chat with. I remember waiting a half hour in one line at Kohl’s last year (to be fair it was 11:30, and none of the other stores’ lines were that long), and it was great having my sister around to talk to.
If you go into Black Friday feeling like you’re about to get your teeth pulled then you will not enjoy it. Look around, browse, and window shop. Giggle over ridiculous items, laugh with your friend(s), try on hideous clothing for fun and amusement. Black Friday does not have to be a mission, you don’t have to get in and get out as if this is Mission Impossible. Black Friday does not have to be akin to torture. Essentially, HAVE FUN!
4) Get Your Holiday Shopping Done.
Have a list of people you need to shop for. Once you find something you think Mom or Friend X, Y, or Z would like, cross their name off the list. Do not be one of those people who goes shopping the night before Christmas. It is not fun (I speak from experience). Really, get your holiday shopping done on Black Friday. I actually cut my holiday shopping budget in half one year.
5) Do Not Be The Early Bird.
This may seem counter intuitive, but those stampedes of crazy? Those happen in the early morning rushes at 3 AM. This is what you want to avoid. Going around 8-10AM is a way better option, because by that point the 3 AM crazy people have gone home to revel in their new purchases. Admittedly, you may not get the very best of the best deals. However, since you’re not looking for specific items which could get sold out (see: electronics) then it’s not too worrisome.
Most stores have Black Friday deals until noon, so by heading out between 8 AM and 10 AM you’re getting their early enough to still get the best deals while avoiding the utter madness. Usually the ones after noon are still decent, but not nearly as good as the ones before noon.
6) Know What Stores Are Priority.
Have a list of stores that you want to hit up. My strategy is to hit the mall stores first since they’re all close together making for less travel time. JCPenny, Macys, Kohls, etc. are all in one place making it easy to hop from store to store. Then we hit the outer stores (Target, Best Buy, etc) that are only a couple minutes away, and lastly the stores that are half hour away.
However, I know there are people who cannot stand crowds in any way, shape, or form. For you, I recommend…
7) Cyber Monday: Online Shopping
Once Cyber Monday hits, I immediately head to Amazon.com.
The movie section will be particularly fruitful. Last year I snagged Princess Bride last year ($3), along with How to Train Your Dragon ($5) and a couple disney movies. I did not pay over $5 for a movie on Cyber Monday.
Check out box sets of your favorite TV Shows. Last year I bought the first four seasons of Dexter for $20 or less for each box set. I also snagged the first season of Glee for $20. Hunt around and check down out the markdowns.
I personally suggest that you should look at prices before Black Friday/Cyber Monday hits. This can help you gauge what the most dramatic markdowns are. Putting all the items in your cart and popping on Amazon throughout a couple weeks will give you and idea of the price changes. I’m always putting stuff in my cart and seeing how the price changes over a month or so.