Black Friday shopping is not for the timid, weak or unprepared. However, intense "doorbuster" stampedes aside, the savings are out there—if you know where to find them. So this year, between turkey roasting and pie baking, be sure to plan your post-Thanksgiving spree. We’ve boiled down the process to five simple steps, which you can check out below!
1. Make a shopping list and do your research.
Once you make a list, you can narrow your sale search to specific locations. Electronics are often the most sought-after devices on Black Friday, so if you’re looking for the latest HDTV or smartphone, you’ll probably be camping out in a parking lot.
Compare prices between stores and look into warranties and return polices. Since things will be hectic, you won’t want to waste your time at a place that isn’t giving you the best possible service.
2. Arrive early to your midnight stop—unless you’re willing to sacrifice time on Thanksgiving Day, of course!
If the location is opening this early, it means you’ll probably have a lot of competition. As we mentioned before, if you’re seeking media devices, somewhere like Best Buy or Walmart is a great first stop.
However, if you’re seeking a general gift selection, Macy’s is a good choice and opens its doors at 6 pm on Thanksgiving. Many outlet malls—like Woodbury Common in Central Valley, NY—let shoppers in at 10 pm, before Black Friday even technically begins. These discount shopping centers are especially useful if you’re hoping to score a couple things for yourself. (Like Burberry trench coats, Kate Spade New York handbags and Gucci wallets.)
3. Regroup and do a department store sweep.
After refueling with an early breakfast, hit the department stores and malls that open around 5 am or 6 am. (Check your local newspaper or website for opening times in your area.) Come prepared with your aforementioned list and coupons, but don’t stress too much: the big trial is out of the way. It’s okay to do a little browsing, too.
4. Take a nap and shop the boutiques.
By the time you’ve braved the midnight madness and checked the early morning markdowns, you’re going to be exhausted. Head back home to crash for a couple hours before anything else. By early afternoon you’ll be refreshed and ready for the most relaxing portion of the day: boutique-hopping.
Shopping smaller stores on Black Friday can be a pleasant experience. Since hardcore hunters are mainly concerned with mass retailers, you won’t have to deal with the giant crowds and sold out items. Keep in mind that this portion of your day is more about seeing what’s out there; don’t go into it expecting major savings. Small business owners will often run some sort of promotion, but it’s most likely not going to be anything extreme.
5. Save some cash for online shopping.
Take inventory of how much you’ve spent and what’s left to buy. E-tailers are usually cagey about releasing their sale information until right before it happens, so check periodically throughout the weekend, starting on Thursday morning. And rest up on Saturday and Sunday because you’ll have to set your alarm early again to score those special Cyber Monday deals. At least this time around you get to do it in your pajamas, right?
Have any great Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping tips? Let us know in the comments below!