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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 shopping that happens the day after Thanksgiving. Love it or hate it, it has become a fixture of the American shopping landscape.

Over the next couple of days, I am going to try to do a little rundown of some of the deals that I have seen out there on the different ad scans sites. 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.

But before we get into the deals, I wanted to give you a run down of what the best strategies are 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 while doing your shopping.

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 love that Target commercial where the chick is dragging the shopping carts behind her). 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.

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!

Come back to check out the deals starting tomorrow.  I will do Home Improvement stores first!  

7 frugal friends said ...

Jessica Jones said... @ November 22, 2009 at 11:13 PM

wow that was intense lol!
I like to shop cheap all year long...do you think going out on black friday is really worth it if you search for sales all the time?

stopping by from SITS

FranticMommy said... @ November 23, 2009 at 5:53 AM

Great overview. I really like your blog. Popping by from SITS!

Corrie Howe said... @ November 23, 2009 at 6:06 AM

I agree with Jessica, this is intense. But I admire people who can and do enjoy this. Me? I hate shopping any time of the year, so going on on Black Friday is especially scary. But I think I'd like to do this once in my life. Just to have had the experience.

Shell said... @ November 23, 2009 at 8:00 AM

I don't do a whole lot of Black Friday shopping. Last year, I did get a great deal on diapers and wipes at Babies R Us: $10 for the huge packs of diapers that are usually $25. I had my boys with me and so the max of 4 boxes per person...well, I counted my toddlers and preschoolers as 1 person and they had to honor that, since there isn't a "per family" limit. I did get eyerolls, but I got a great deal on diapers and was able to stock up on several months' worth of diapers!

LisaLisa said... @ November 23, 2009 at 9:01 AM

Dropping by your blog crib to say Helloooo lol Wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving ...remember it's not about the food we eat but the love we share!

Happy Thanksgiving!!

My Galveston Cottage said... @ November 23, 2009 at 11:29 AM

Hi Jess,
OK. I just don't get why they call it Black Friday!? Doesn't the name itself just sound dreary and depressing. Why not Green Friday for go, go, go.....Happy shopping!! And thanks for stopping by my blog; I'm soooo happy you're going to participate in the mood board contest. Good luck and happy holiday! best, -susan

The Blonde Duck said... @ November 23, 2009 at 2:48 PM

I know it's great deals, but all those people terrify me!

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