Black Friday Tips & Hacks

Black Friday officially begins this Friday usually at 6 am (midnight at some outlet malls), and sales can be found through Cyber Monday, November 26.  For better or for worse, the holiday sales season seems to begin earlier with each passing year.  Indeed, some sales have already started. 

My brother and I have a tradition of shopping Black Friday in a different city each year.  We consider ourselves seasoned pros but speaking for myself, I’ve made some mistakes and have had some regrets.  Here are my top tips and tricks that I’ve learned along the way.

1. Make a list.

Have an idea in your mind or better yet an actual list of gifts that you are seeking for others, or items you’re looking to buy for yourself during the sale. Clothing, shoes, housewares, beauty and fragrance, toys, tech, electronics, etc. will be on sale. Bringing along a list will help you stay focused and not overbuy just because things are on sale.

2. Sign up to receive emails and download apps from your favorite stores.

If you have an idea of the stores you’re going to shop, sign up for their email list before Black Friday. They will email coupons before and throughout Black Friday weekend. Similarly, download apps to your favorites stores. Some stores offer additional discounts taken at the register with an app barcode.

Many stores will allow you to stack the savings with more than one coupon. Other stores may have a policy of only using one coupon at a time but for the stores that are lenient, the savings can be significant.

3. Check store hours.

Knowing store hours beforehand will help you sketch out a plan for the day and night.

4. Hit the outlet mall first.

Most outlet stores offer a minimum of 40% off beginning at Midnight or 6 am on Black Friday. Look for deals here first before hitting the retail stores. The deals offered at retail stores can be a disappointing 20% percent off in comparison.  Additionally, many outlet malls such as Simon Premium Outlets offer coupons online as well as a coupon book that can be picked up at the office when you first arrive.  This can result in big savings. 

5. Buy quality over quantity.

Even if something is at a rock-bottom sales price, still only buy quality made goods, and quality over quantity, always. It’s easy to get caught up in the sales and buy more than you intended. Take advantage of the sales but you don’t want to regret purchases.

6. Reassess your wardrobe.

If looking for clothes or shoes for yourself, give your wardrobe a big think beforehand and identify the holes ie: the things that are missing such as basics or quality investment pieces that you will wear for years.  I tend to buy the same things (black boots!) over and over and I’m trying to break this cycle.  Knowing what you need and don’t need will help you stay on budget. 

7. Stay smart.

Some retailers will inflate prices to make you think you’re getting a deal when in actuality you are not, especially on expensive items such as jewelry, watches, electronics, etc.

Price check using Google or Amazon on your phone before pulling the trigger. If you’re looking to buy big tickets items such as electronics, appliances or items deemed luxury such as handbags, note the list price by doing a search so you know what kind of savings you’re getting during the sale.  If the savings aren’t so significant and the item is a want vs need, then you can better decide if you should spend the money now or wait for another day.

8. Get a gift receipt.

If you’re buying a gift for someone and it’s a month before Christmas, be sure to check the return policy to make sure it’s adequate, and get a gift receipt.

9. Leave the non-shoppers home.

Kids, spouses, anyone who likes to hover over your shoulder while you browse, leave them home.  Black Friday is stressful enough without complainers and dawdlers tagging along.

10. Take care of yourself.

Coffee breaks! And, good food to keep your energy up.

Bring a crossbody bag/wallet. Keep your hands free and your wallet in sight. Wear comfortable shoes and clothing. You don’t want to be lugging around a purse or a heavy coat along with your shopping bags.

I hope this is helpful.  Have fun!

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