Black Friday, the day after Christmas, is known for some great deals, large crowds and early mornings. With a little planning, anyone can take advantage of the bargains offered this year on Black Friday. The good news is that it isn’t really the busiest shopping day of the year. (That honor usually goes to the Saturday or Sunday before Christmas.) A little planning will help you make sure you get the most for fighting the crowds.
1. Know what you want and know what’s a good price for it.
With the bargain prices and the excitement, it’s very easy to overspend on Black Friday. Want to avoid this problem? Make out your list and get a few price estimates before you look at the Black Friday advertisements. Know the toys that are wanted. Otherwise, the temptation to pick up an extra toy or two for a cheap price is very tempting. Finding a good game for the family to share or something extra for your mom on sale for $5 isn’t going to blow anyone’s budget. Doing that for everyone on your list will blow your holiday budget.
Why is it important to know the price? Retailers sometimes like to slide a not-so-great-deal in with all of the advertised specials. Say, a retailer has advertised the Baby Alive Baby All Gone doll for $9.99 on Black Friday. This is about one-half the regular price, so this is a great deal. Stacked next to the Baby Alives, though, might be a My Little Mommy Newborn for the same price. My Little Mommy Newborn is a beautiful doll, but she usually sells for around $10. The retailer hopes that when Baby Alive Baby All Gone is, well, all gone on Black Friday, shoppers will instead settle for My Little Mommy at the regular price.
For those willing to brave the early Wal-Mart Crowds, here’s some advice.
2. Are the Black Friday savings worth the hassle?
Many Black Friday shoppers do it for fun. The early morning outings have become family traditions or friend excursions. Whether you enjoy shopping Black Friday or you’re just desperate for a cheap Christmas this year…the best advice is to focus on the item(s) that provide the best reward, emotional and financial. Older shoppers may have waited in line for Cabbage Patch Dolls or Tickle Me Elmo. The savings wasn’t great, but you had to have that toy to make a toddler happy. Better forecasting on the part of toy giants has almost eliminated those crazy days. Now, instead, the price point makes moms and dads (and grandparents) crazy on Black Friday.
Imagine my daughter really want a laptop. I want to give it to her, but all I can afford for her present this year is $200. A big box store has a Black Friday special, a brand name basic computer for $179. You can plan on every store having seven or eight computers at a minimum. In this case, the financial and emotional reward that come from being able to give my daughter that laptop is worth losing a night’s sleep. I may be tempted to get in line right after doing the Thanksgiving dishes. I know it’s the only chance I may be able to afford a computer before Christmas.
Now, let’s assume my children are younger and want Barbies and Transformers. I look through the ads and find out I can save $3 on a pair of transformers and $6 on a Barbie. That may not be worth the hassle, plus there’s a good chance those items will be on sale again before Christmas. You’ve heard the old adage “pick your battles wisely.” On Black Friday, it’s pick your bargains wisely.
3. Don’t like early hours? Hate crowds? Black Friday still has something for you.
Wal-Mart and K-Mart are known for the early morning door-busters, but that doesn’t mean Black Friday isn’t for those who like to sleep late and avoid the morning crowds. Look at advertisements from some not-so-obvious stores, like hardware shops or drug stores (and, no, I’m not suggesting you buy drugs for your nieces and nephews, although your great aunts and uncles might actually appreciate a refill of Plavix or Celebrex.) These stores aren’t very crowded, but offer some good deals for do-it-yourself gurus or amazing stocking stuffers. Here’s why I always stop at my favorite drug stores for great Black Friday deals. These stores are open on Thanksgiving in case you want to stop in. And stores open later on Friday, after the early bird specials are over.
Afternoon shoppers can find many bargains, too. J.C. Penney, for example, is offering a $15 off a $75 purchase for those shopping after 3 p.m. Target, Wal-Mart, Kohls and many others have day-long specials. And many of the Black Friday ads are available online on Friday (not to be confused with Cyber Monday.) Learn some afternoon shopping tips here.