Monday, November 18, 2013

"Black Friday" Shopping Tips

Sorry, the man isn't for sale. :)

“Black Friday”. It's a nickname for the biggest Christmas shopping day of the year. It usually refers to the day stores make the most profits (get “into the black”), but I think “black” should also refer to what color the sky is at 4am. That's the time you'll see people lined up out in front of stores so they can fight to get X Hot Toy before anyone else. Many stores are starting their big sales Thanksgiving evening to cut down on the chaos but, regardless of when you shop, there's still a lot to think about that you might not otherwise. If you do decide to shop, here are a few ways to get the best out of Black Friday.

-Create a plan of attack. Map out which stores to go to and when. Make a budget and stick to it. If you can, “Like” a store or product's Facebook page or look for special coupons online. Sometimes manufacturers will offer rebates or discount codes to people who visit their website.

-Decide what items you need and don't need. Know exactly what you're looking for beforehand and budget accordingly. Stores are very good at getting people buy things on impulse, which means you could spend a lot more money than you planned to. Also, it helps to have a “backup plan” in case what you came for is sold out, because it probably will be unless you're one of the first five people in the store. Don't push and shove other people to get to things. Whatever it is, it's not worth someone (you or another person) getting hurt over.

-Do your research. Not everything is a good deal. Things like coats, non-bundled gaming units (meaning, just the console and basic controllers as opposed to the console, controllers, several games and advanced controllers like motion sensors or step pads) and some decorations go down in price as it gets close to Christmas, so waiting might actually give you more savings.

-Join forces with a friend so you can help each other get what you want. Take shifts standing in line, stake out different sections of the store or help with loading and unloading items can save you a lot of time and money.

-Bring sale papers and other ads for the things you are looking for. That way, you can ensure you're getting the advertised price for whatever item you want. Also, some stores have a price-matching guarantee. Read the fine print, though, because there may be exclusions you'd want to know about.

-Ask for a gift receipt and keep abreast of the store's refund or exchange policies.

-Don't forget that most major retailers have sales online as well. This isn't the “Cyber Monday” thing so much as having the exact same sale (or better) on Black Friday as the brick-and-mortar store. I would personally rather shop online because it keeps me away from the chaos and allows me to send my long-distance family's gifts directly from the site rather than me having to lug everything to the post office.

And, for what a lot of us forget;

-Please remember that the employees are people too. My stepbrother is a manager of a Walmart in North Carolina and once got punched in the face by an old lady when he told her they were out of a certain item. To give perspective, my stepbrother is just over six feet tall and pretty well-built. Just because they are out of something right then, that doesn't mean they won't get a shipment in later or reduce the price as it gets closer to Christmas. Sure, they might not be at the “door-buster” prices, but they're still usually less expensive than they'd normally be.

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