Once Thanksgiving dinner has passed, stomachs are full and turkey-induced comas begin to settle in, most people’s minds start shifting towards planning their Black Friday shopping strategy. And this is nothing to enter into lightly–after all, you’re going up against some verified retail shopping ninjas, and you’re going to need a rock-solid plan in order to snag the deals and gifts you’re looking for before they’re all gone.
Just like an experienced military general would never enter into battle without a carefully planned strategy, you shouldn’t leave the house without having a clear plan of attack for your Black Friday shopping excursion. Below are some key tips to help you plan the ultimate Black Friday shopping trip, and return home with the spoils of victory.
1. Know what you want before you even head out the door.
There’s an old Black Friday shopping axiom that says “If you don’t know what you want, you might get trampled by someone who does.” Okay, this isn’t actually true, but the point remains that you don’t want to go wading into the thick Black Friday crowd without having any particular shopping objective in mind. If you adopt the approach that you’ll just buy “anything that jumps out at me,” you’ll more than likely make several impulse buys (which may lead to guilt later), and end up spending your money on things that you’re not really even sure you wanted in the first place.
It’s much better to write down a list of ideas for items that you plan to buy as gifts, as well as things you’d like to get for yourself or your household. Once you can match your shopping ideas with your available budget, now you’re cooking.
2. Do plenty of research ahead of time online.
Many major retailers will post their Black Friday deals well before the big day (take Macy’s for example), so it’s always a good idea to do some preliminary online research well before your shopping trip. Sites such as BlackFriday.com and BFAds.net are very helpful for this purpose. Not only will you be able to get an overview of all the major Black Friday sales happening at different stores, but you can also get information regarding when each retailer’s Black Friday ads are first released.
Check offline sources as well such as newspapers, circulars or any Black Friday-specific coupon packets. Gather all of your bargains together (including online promo codes or printable coupons) as well as your list, and have everything at the ready when it’s time to head out the door.
3. Don’t forget about logistics.
Make sure you’re visiting stores in a manner that will make the most sense in terms of logistics. In other words, you don’t want to zig-zag all over, especially when you consider the heavy traffic and potential parking issues.
Map out a sensible order for your store visits, including how you will hit various stores that are all under one roof (such as in a shopping mall). Prioritize the stores that have your most important or “must-have” items, or stores that have a limited time span for their Black Friday sales (e.g., for the first two hours only, etc.). Also, bring some snacks along if you plan to make a day of it, because you may not be able to pull away for an hour-long brunch when you’re in the heat of shopping battle.
4. Start early!
When it comes to Black Friday, the early bird gets the deals! If you snooze, you lose, so you’ll probably have to leave the house before dawn in order to hit the stores while there’s still plenty of deals to choose from. Most stores will open much earlier than usual, so be sure to set your clock early, and head out with your game face on!
Okay, you’re all set…now go forth and conquer on Black Friday!