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Black Friday – for those who don’t know it by its official industry name – is the day of mad crazy 5 am  or earlier shopping that happens the day after Thanksgiving. Love it or hate it, it has become a fixture of the American shopping landscape.   Some of us love it a little more than other – aka – the crazy Target Lady.  (Those commercials CRACK me up!)  Me – I am in the “Whoohoo – Let’s do it” camp!  This week, my mom, lil bro and I will take our trek out to hit the stores at the crack of dawn.  It is kinda a tradition we like to do when we are all together! 

If you love the Target Chick – you have to go check out her Black Friday Tip Videos!  Hysterical!

While there are always good deals out there at all the stores, we need to dig down to see if it is worth standing in line for at 4 am or if you can get there at 7 (or noon) and still get just as good of a deal.   I wanted to give you a run down of what the best strategies I think are best for planning and executing your Black Friday shopping. Having participated on both the shopping and selling side of this day, I hope I can pass around some tips you find useful!   (FYI - This is a repost of some of the tips I shared last year – with some minor tweaks and updates!)

My first resource is to go out and check some of the sites that round up copies of the ad circulars. Blackfriday.info is probably my favorite and they have all of the big players ads listed. Once you have an ad up, you need to differentiate, the limited “while supplies last” offers from the all day or all weekend deals.  Typically, the language on the page is clear with certain pages labeled with specific timelines and or limited quantity messages. The ones on the front and back covers are usually early morning specials.

Two things to note on early morning limited timeframe specials

  1. If “minimum quantities” are specified, there will be at a minimum that number at a given store. There may be more and retailers will typically parcel those out with their high volume stores getting more than an average or low volume store. Many times those minimums are in the 3-8 piece range. For the really hot deals, (i.e. big screen TVs, laptops, appliances) stores will hand out vouchers to the people standing in line ahead of opening to limit the mass hysteria. If you are not within the first 10-30 people in line, you are probably not going to get one. That said – if you really want it, you need to bring yourself and your thermos and get comfy pretty early in the AM.
  2. While the ads will normally state that it is a 5-hour special/sale and give a timeframe, that does not always mean that the prices automatically go higher once you reach the end of the sale. Most of the time those are just the items that the retailers is anticipating will sell out before the end of that time. So if you find one in the store after the sale is over have a sales person check the price for you and see if it is still valid.

As you are flipping through the circulars, it is probably a good idea to determine what you are looking for and what the priority of that item is within your holiday shopping. Is it more important to get a 40-inch TV or a bike? Are the sheets a good deal but not a holy-cow-we-need-to-get-there-first deal? I find it helpful to make a list of what I have seen in the different ads with pricing and feature details to help identify where the best deal is going to be located.

You also need to make sure to assess these potential purchases to see if they are truly a good deal. Some sites like BlackFriday.info will show you if you can get the same item cheaper online already. It is also easy to pull up a couple of sites like Amazon and Overstock.com to see if you can get these “bargains” today from the comfort of your couch. And now that we are into the week of Black Friday, stores will be trying to steal you away from the competition so if you see a great deal in the ad for Lowe’s you need to hop on over to Home Depot website now to see if they have matched it or provided a similar deal.

After you rank out all your potential purchases, you need to assess the logistics of hitting those stores. You are not going to be able to pick up a great deal on one side of town and then drive to the other to get your next top item. Typically, you will find that you will need to pair down your list to focus on the stores that are available wherever you plan on shopping. This is a good time to identify those items that are good all weekend and to pick them up later in the day if they are going to be farther away from your core shopping hub.

Next, you need to decide if this is an event you want to do solo or with another person. Both have their advantages, but I prefer the team approach as it allows you have assistance with carrying items and digging through bins! However, if you only have a few things to get, going solo may also be the best answer. I highly encourage that you do not bring your children. That is just not a good experience for them (cause you know your kids LOVE standing in line) and will normally cause outbursts and tantrums that make other shoppers stare daggers into your head.

Finally, you need to be prepared physically to shop. I am not talking about being physically fit (though I think the Target chick would disagree with me). Wear comfortable shoes and layers so you can shed as the day goes on. Make sure you take the proper precautions if the weather is very cold and you are standing in line. Also, remember to EAT something. You do not want to be in the middle of a line of people and end up getting woozy because your blood sugar is low.  (I have seen a person pass out – seriously EAT something!)

So those are my Black Friday Basics. Have anything to add? Do you go out on Black Friday or do you sleep in? Have any good stories? I would love to hear all about it!

4 frugal friends said ...

Bonnie@Creative Decorating said... @ November 24, 2010 at 6:07 AM

I just had to comment on how funny those commercials are to me!! Unless there is an item that I can't do without for the price, you usually don't see me out shopping that day! I have a patience problem when it comes to standing in line! I do great up until a point and then it is like a beast is let loose on the inside of me that makes me shift and sigh uncontrollably! lol So, to keep the beast contained, I wait until during the day during the weekdays to shop.

Erin@likegrandmas said... @ November 24, 2010 at 7:43 AM

I love the one of her running thru the store in heels with the parahchute! I love shopping online, sometimes I venture out into the fray, not this year, darn!

fafner said... @ November 24, 2010 at 8:11 AM

I saw an ad for Kohls that said they were opening at the unprecedented 3 AM!! At that point, you may as well just stay up all night and nosh on leftover turkey.

Entertaining Women said... @ November 27, 2010 at 10:57 AM

The Target lady was indeed funny. I, on the other hand, have never been out on Black Friday. You have my admiration; I can't even imagine. That said, our Christmas shopping is done for this year, and we've given our kids their gifts early. Your tutorial for Black Friday is well thought out, and if I ever do decide to participate, I'll remember your guidelines. Thanks for putting this together for us. Cherry Kay

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