Black Friday: Survival 101

The time is almost here.  While we will all be giving thanks next Thursday, surrounded by friends and family, some of you will be giving thanks for the Black Friday sales you will be hoping to score the following morning.

Even though Black Friday is technically not a holiday, many often celebrate it like one.  It is one of the biggest shopping days in the United States, known for having hugely discounted prices and deals offered to customers; many of whom would be willing to shove their neighbor to the back of the line for. Some people find it ridiculous to wake up at the crack of dawn (or earlier) to go pack yourself like a sardine in a store and while I don’t disagree with those people’s feelings, I do understand the desire to be one of those packed sardines.

It’s all about the deals. But before you put on your boxing gloves and helmet and jump into the shopping ring, it’s best to be prepared. Here are a few tips to make sure you win the match, whether it is with the price at checkout, the boot hoarder insisting she needs the last pair of size 9’s, or the husband whose facial expression only reads shock and bankruptcy when you he finds out how much you bought.

1. Make a list. It’s important to know what you’re shopping for.  I assume that most of you willing sardines who opt to jump in the can don’t go simply because you enjoy being packed in aisles and check-out lines, but instead it’s because you have a purpose. Well, write down those purposes on a piece of paper and take it with. For many, Black Friday inaugurates the Christmas season and is kick-off day to getting your holiday shopping done. Have your list of people you’re buying for and even better, what you want to buy for them! This helps eliminate additional spending while saving you time, either to shop more or return home earlier.

2. Do your research and know your sales. When you have your stores in mind in which you want to hit, don’t be afraid to give them a call and ask what their Black Friday sale is going to be. This can help you navigate where to go first and/or what you really should spend your money on.  Not usually the case, but some stores will even put a specific item on hold for you before the sale starts to make sure you get it. Read the advertisements, cut them out, and take them with you when you shop. That way if for some reason at check-out the price is more than advertised for, you have your proof.

3. Shop with a friend who goes at your same pace.  Unless you prefer to shop alone, it is important to shop with someone who shops at a similar speed you do. Not only does this make things easier like getting their advice on a purchase but also makes your Friday a little less stressful, not having to worry about catching up with someone or wanting to leave them behind. Also, a friend is a good aid in helping you stick to your list and staying on budget.

4. You don’t have to be a sardine – shop online! Forget wanting to knock over the person in the check-out line for holding everybody up while they argue for a lower price (because they didn’t bring the advertisement), skip it all together!  So many stores offer just as great, if not better, deals online from an additional percentage off to free shipping – and let’s face it, who doesn’t love not having to leave home, use gas, or be with hundreds of people you’ve never met before when you can get what you want delivered right to your front step?!

5. Know the return policy. It’s not uncommon in the past few years to see stores tighten up their return policy so be sure to ask a sales associate what their store’s full return policy is. Some stores offer a generous return policy while others offer 30-60 days. And be weary of those who have final sale. I try to avoid shops like those on a day where impulse can easily takes over – yikes!  Also, be sure to keep all of your receipts. I also suggest writing down in your own description what you bought next to the item on the receipt, that way it makes things easier to find if you do need to return.

With so many people to deal with and items to grab it can be easy to forget your manners. But as a retailer (and one who has to work on Thanksgiving evening thru the night until the end of Friday) I beg of you to remember those of us who serve you. It’s the little things that count. Please be respectful and kind, bring your unwanted items out of the fitting rooms, pick up the sweater you accidentally dropped on the floor, and most importantly smile when you walk up to check-out. We really don’t appreciate dealing with grumpy customers.

So best of luck! Find that deal, get your Christmas shopping done early, but don’t forget enjoy the time you get with your friends and family and give thanks for all of the wonderful things in your life. Happy Thanksgiving!

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