How many of you woke up at 3 a.m. the morning after Thanksgiving to get in line at the stores and malls to catch the greatest deals? Well, not me. There was absolutely nothing out there that I wanted bad enough to deal with the madness of the doorbuster sales. When a retailers starts giving away iPads just for walking through the door, then I'll be there. I'll probably be first in line. But since I didn't hear anything about free iPads, I did not take part in the early, early morning shopping rituals. Instead, I woke up at my normal time, had a cup of hot cocoa, showered and dressed, browsed retailers sites online, and then made my way to the mall about mid-morning. As I was leaving the mall and heading to another store, I started thinking about the steps I took to prepare for Black Friday. These tips would have been helpful before Black Friday, I know, but hopefully you'll remember these tips for the next Black Friday and for other sales in the future.
- Browse retailers' websites early. I started browsing online about a week before Black Friday and made a mental list of the things I needed and wanted. The Saturday before Black Friday, I went to the malls and stores and tried items on that I liked and noted what sizes I needed. If you do this, you can avoid the Black Friday crowds and stay home in your pajamas and shop online and get the same deal offered in-store. You can also wait and take advantage of online deals on Cyber Monday. Most of the time, the retailer is going to run out of sizes in-store on Black Friday. If you've already tried clothes on the week before while they were still fully stocked, you can grab your size online where they have a larger size selection.
- If your bank account allows, purchase the items you want that week leading up to Black Friday. Why, you ask? Doesn't this defeat the purpose of participating in the Black Friday sales? Absolutely not. Most retailers have price adjustment policies that allow you get money back if the items you purchased go on sale within 14 days of your purchase. Just like the tip above, this ensures that you get the sizes/items you want and you can avoid the super early morning Black Friday crowds. Just be sure that you make note of the hours for the biggest discounts from each retailer. A lot of retailers will have their biggest discounts until 10 a.m. or until noon. Check with each retailer for their discount hours and for their price adjustment policies.
- With all of this online shopping, be sure to take note of free shipping offers. On Black Friday and Cyber Monday a lot of online retailers will offer free shipping. Others will offer free shipping for spending a certain amount. If you already know what you want and already know the sizes you need, why not take advantage of free shipping if it's offered of if you plan to spend enough to qualify for free shipping? (And this doubles the shopping rush, for you shopaholics. You get a rush when you purchase it online AND when that boxes shows up on your doorstep!)
- My last tip is for those who plan to go out to the actual stores to do your shopping. I think we tend to make more unexpected purchases when we're in store, because (a) we see items pieced together on the mannequins in a way that we hadn't considered, (b) we see other shoppers trying certain items on and wonder how it will look on us, and (c) we're standing in line to make our purchase and items strategically placed near the register catch our eye. Well, before you head out on Black Friday, make sure you have your list of items that you need (a winter coat) and want (new boots). Again, if you've done your research as advised in the first tip, you will already know exactly which items you're planning to purchase and won't have to waste time browsing and trying items on and you know exactly how much you plan to spend. If you're budget doesn't allow for you to spend more, then stop with those purchases. If you have a little extra money, give yourself another $25, $50, or whatever you budget allows for unexpected items. Save this money only for deals that are impossible to pass up and for items that you need, want, and can use (a $3 mixer when you don't even cook is not one of those deals).
I hope these tips serve you well and save you money for Black Friday 2011 and for other upcoming sales! Remember, while you're helping retailers get in the black, don't put yourself in the red.