Shopping Tips for a Black Friday Success (& the Holiday Season!)

With the combination of stores opening earlier than ever this Friday and the current state of the economy (not to mention the rise of TV shows focused on super-savings like TLC’s Extreme Couponing), there are expected to be tons of deals and Black Friday shoppers out and about this year.

So, are you daring enough to brave the crowds, cold and near chaos this year for the great deals and must-have items on your loved ones’ Christmas list?

Well, if you are, we wanted to help make sure you are as ready as possible, so we put together a list of things to keep in mind and take into consideration before you head out and while you’re on the go!

Make a list.

If there is ever a time to make a list (and check it twice), it’s the holiday season! As you look through the ads and do research into the best prices being offered on Black Friday, compiling a list of what it is you want to get on this specific shopping outing will help you maintain your budget and get the items you want.

You know walking into any store can be dangerous; there’s always something waiting to catch your eye. So for Friday, when crowds will be at their biggest, you’ll want to stay focused and ready to make a beeline for the must-get’s on your list, rather than looking at every neat thing you walk past.

Note: If, however, you don’t have any must-get items on your Black Friday list, it may still be helpful to make a complete list of who it is you need to shop for this holiday season so that you have a better understanding of what your budget looks like.

Plan a multi-store strategy.

While having a list in hand is crucial to your Black Friday success, another factor that may escape your immediate attention with the excitement of enjoying Thanksgiving is which stores to visit and when to maximize your shopping. For this, there are two things to keep in mind:

You’ll need to know the store hours. It’s probably even handy to have them scribbled down somewhere. (We’ve included a list of some of the major stores opening times at the end of our tip list).

You’ll also need to know the order in which you’ll want to go to stores. This may be determined by what time the stores open, but, again, it’s handy to make a concrete note of this.


Going hand-in-hand with a having a strategy, if there are multiple stores (or even a mall) that you are looking to score some good deals at that both open at the same time, you’re going to need to decide which store needs to come first and which item is the best deal, most sought after and most-wanted on your loved one’s list.

The same, however, goes for items that are in the same store. While all stores can be overwhelming on Black Friday, superstores like Walmart, Target and even Best Buy can be daunting just to think about. It’s in these stores, in particular, that it is crucial to prioritize which items you want to go after first.

That doesn’t mean you won’t get everything on your Black Friday list – here’s hoping you do! – but it does mean that some items will be in more limited quantities, bigger savings or faster sellers and you should get to them first.


Bring a friend.

Whether you generally prefer to shop alone or shop with friends, there are definite pluses to bringing a friend along with you on your Black Friday adventures. For one, remember that whole prioritizing bit above? Well, with a friend, the two of you can divide and conquer both of your lists much easier than if it were just you trying to get around those crowded aisles and long lines.

And of course, there is always the benefit of having someone there to bounce ideas off. Not to mention that having someone with you in a potentially high-stress situation is always good for the soul. You can either freak out together or work to calm one another down.


Dress comfortably.

Black Friday is the day to get some great deals and hot items, not flaunt the next fashion statement. You are going to have a long day ahead and you’re going to want to be comfortable… and ready to fly down the aisles to get that must-have item on your list.

This means comfort is key! Wear shoes that you can walk in. Sneakers are a great bet for this or similarly easy to wear and move around in shoes.

Layers are also your friend. If you’re standing outside waiting for a store to open or just walking from your car to the store doors, yes, it will be cold. But when you get inside, that coat you’ve been wearing is going to make you even hotter and more uncomfortable inside these already crowded stores. Wearing layers that you can easily remove and put back on will help you stay temperature and comfort ready.


Keep your energy up!

It’s going to be a long night/day for you. And we’re pretty sure that delicious turkey dinner is only going to make you more tired. But even without the sleep-inducing turkey, shopping throughout the night and day will wear you out quick. So definitely bring food and drink to keep your energy and your spirits up!

Lines will be long and the roads near the stores will be filled with traffic, so you are definitely going to want to have a quick fix for food and drink in tow. Whether you keep a store of snacks in the car or keep a few in your purse, you’ll be happy knowing you aren’t wasting time standing in the line at the food courts.

Choose wisely, though, which sustenance you bring. Coffee and tea may seem like smart choices at first, but if hot tea runs right through you and coffee makes you crash, the consequences may outweigh the initial surge of energy. Similarly, take snacks that are both easy to carry and ready to eat at a moment’s hunger.


Stay safe.

It’s terrible to think that just as the holiday shopping season is getting underway that there are thieves waiting to ruin someone’s holiday, but we all need to smart and realistic.

If you’re shopping at multiple stores, make sure you had what you’ve already purchased as much out of sight as possible in your car when you head in for the next store run. If possible, you may even want to make a trip home to drop things off – especially if they are particularly valuable items.

Just be sure to not get so wrapped up in the shopping frenzy that you forget basic rules of safety. Keep your wallet on your person or your purse safely at your side at all times. And, if you’re in the parking lot, check for people around you and don’t rummage around too much in your car and draw attention to yourself or your purchase.


Go online.

Hey, if you’re not up to the full-blown process that is Black Friday, we don’t blame you. With so many things to keep in mind and presents to think about and crowds to handle, it can be completely overwhelming. Especially, considering there are often the same (or pretty close to the same) deals on the store’s website as well.

If you can get the items you’re looking for at a great price and without the hassle of lines, parking lots, crowds and more, why not shop online? It’s a rising trend and we can see why.


Know the return and exchange policies.

Considering the deals that are available and the crowds that are in tow, some stores mark items sold on Black Friday as final sale. Others allow exchanges and some others have a normal return policy.

What’s important is knowing this information before you buy. Black Friday is not the day to buy now and decide later. This is part of why it’s so important to make a list, stick to a budget and shop for the people you need to shop for. It can be tempting to buy a good deal, but if there is no one to give it to and you’re not able to return the item… what are you going to do then?


Don’t forget there are still Cyber Monday and Small Business Saturday.

Before you go into full-on Jingle All the Way panic mode in search of a gift you didn’t snag on Black Friday, just remember that this is only the first real day of the holiday shopping season, meaning it’s only one day’s worth of sales.

Granted there are some good deals to get, but there has also been the rise of Cyber Monday in the past few years where people can take advantage of some great deals online that they missed out on in store Black Friday and a new trend this year of supporting small businesses and getting great deals on items close to home the Saturday after the Black Friday chaos.

And, come on, we all know the stores have sales throughout the holiday. Sure, maybe you can’t buy a 42” TV for $200 every day, but there are still plenty of deals to take advantage of throughout the season and ways to save money.


And last, but not least, try to have fun! ‘Tis the season, after all!


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