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Black Friday Survival Tips and Tricks

Updated on October 30, 2014

Black Friday is one the largest shopping days in the United States. It is a time when consumers try to save money on the best deals and retailers try to boost sales to turn an extra profit. It is a time when shortly after some people have just reflected on what they are thankful for, they allow their greedy and self-centered nature take over in a fight for Black Friday "deals". However, some consumers simply use Black Friday as a way to save money not only on gifts for the holidays but on a variety of trending products and gadgets.

What comes to mind when one thinks of Black Friday is the images of consumers camping out in front of their favorite stores in hopes to get the best deals on electronics and other trending items. Another reality of Black Friday is the mobs of shoppers making a made rush for their favorite items before all of the deals are gone, without a thought to anyone else that might be there looking for the same deal.

It is believed that Black Friday got its name because retailers considers it to be a day to boost sales and get into what is known as “getting in the black”. This isn't entirely true. Of course it is a day that retailers who are "in the red" have a chance to profit enough before the end of the year. However, it was the Philadelphia police department that coined the term "Black Friday" in 1966. It was due to the large amount of crime, traffic jams, and overcrowding in general. It wasn't until a few years later did the name spread outside of Philadelphia and eventually around the world.

Normally, the shopping frenzy officially begins the day after Thanksgiving but over the last few years retailers claim there is a higher consumer demand thus stores will be starting the madness early on Thanksgiving. Even still, retailers take advantage of the anticipation leading up to Black Friday as they run early sales that enable consumers to save even more money on certain items.

Remember to bring the sales ads with you!

Check Black Friday Ads

Most retailers release their Black Friday ads early. In most cases, retailers start advertising Black Friday sales two weeks before Black Friday. Even still there are retailers that promote their Black Friday sales an entire month in advance. In addition to this, many retailers are starting to have sales leading up to the Black Friday event. They call it the Countdown to Black Friday Deals. In many cases, you can save even more money by shopping early.

By receiving Black Friday ads early, this allows consumers to compare deals between retailers and entice shoppers to complete most of their holiday shopping while saving money. Getting a head start on reviewing the ads will also allow you to be aware of any pre-Black Friday sales that may be going on. For example, one year the Gap ran a sale the on the Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving, calling it "Bright Friday", where consumers could save up to 60% on items in their stores and online.

Check Online Sales

In today's age, almost everyone is connected to the internet at any given time. Many people rely on online retailers for much of their shopping needs. Black Friday is no different. Many online retailers also run Black Friday sales. Many of which advertise these sales in advance so be sure to compare sale prices online as well as offline.

Also keep in mind that the Monday after Black Friday is considered Cyber Monday. Cyber Monday is a day to extend saving to those who prefer shopping online. Retailers use Cyber Monday as a marketing tool to help extend the boost in sales. Many of the online retailers extend Cyber Monday to the entire week. So, be sure to compare the Black Friday sales with the Cyber Monday sales.

Black Friday shopping plan free printable
Black Friday shopping plan free printable | Source

Make a List

As you you go through the plethora of ads, make a list of the items that interest you.This will help you organize your comparison shopping. By making a list, it will save you the hassle of continuously flipping through the ads.

Also, make a gift giving list. You don't want to over shop, which won't help you save any money. To help you compile this list, ask your family to make a Christmas list before Thanksgiving. This will help you better plan out your shopping list.

Download shopping apps to maximize comparison shopping on the go!

Make a Plan

After thoroughly going through all of the ads, both in-store flyers and online, it is time to make a plan to optimize your time to save the most money.

Map Your Route - The first step is to do some reconnaissance. By doing some preliminary research, you will be able to more accurately map out a plan. Go to each of the stores you plan to go to and locate the area or exact location the item you are looking for is going to be. You can even check with the store or department manager to see if the particular item on sale will be in a special location or if there will be a specific procedure for pick up.

In addition to going to each store mapping out a route within the store, be sure to map out your driving route. You can always use Google Maps to initially map out your route to account for distance and estimated time. However, keep in mind that traffic may be more congested on Black Friday.

After mapping your route from home, give the route some trial runs. Make sure to account for traffic lights and delays in traffic. Know how long being stopped at a traffic light might take on average. Also map out any alternate routes and timing.

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Shopping Team - Having a shopping buddy or several can help to make for a successful Black Friday shopping haul. There are a variety of ways that having a Black Friday shopping team comes in handy. Many stores have deals in different parts of the store and sometimes it is impossible to get in on all of the deals when there is a limited quantity. Have the other members of your team go to these different areas to pick up the items on your list. Your shopping buddy could always pick up one for each of the members in the team as you do the same for them. Have in your plan a meet up spot to exchange hauls before checkout.

Another way to utilize a Black Friday shopping team is being about to pair off into smaller teams to be able to go to different stores. For example, one part of your team could be at Best Buy and another one at Walmart. You can give your budgeted money to each team so they can check out with your things as well.

Back Up Plans - You have to be flexible in your plan. In most cases, Black Friday can be chaotic. The crowds can resemble mobs and few retailers are prepared for the crowd control. You may not be able to reach the item on your list in time before it is sold out. You need to have alternative items on your list or decide to take a gamble at another store.

Restroom Breaks - When mapping out your Black Friday plan, take into account restroom breaks. Determine where the restrooms are ahead of time. Scheduling restroom breaks is the best way to go. Even if you don't feel the need at the scheduled time, it is best to try anyway. You don't want to feel the urge to "go" while you are trying to get the next trending item on your list. Also, consider the crowds inside the restroom. You may have to calculate restroom wait times as well.

Meals and Snacks - This is another aspect you will need to account for in your Black Friday planning. Be sure to bring water. Shopping on Black Friday can be quite the workout and it is important to stay hydrated. Also pack several light snacks. Since you will be burning calories during your shopping endeavor, it is good to have snacks on hand to keep those hunger impulses a bay. Plus, many people get moody when they are hungry and there will already be enough grumpy shoppers on Black Friday. Finally, when mapping out your Black Friday plan, be sure to schedule a stop for lunch or dinner.

Camping Out

Because many people are aware that the items featured in Black Friday sales are limited, some have resorted to camping out the day before Black Friday. Some people pitch tents or a canopy. It is best if you double check with the store on its policy regarding this first. For the most part, many people bring folding portable chairs or just sit against the side of the building. But there are some things you should consider before camping out.

Dress warmly - It is a good idea to double check the weather forecast in your area. This will help you know how to dress properly. For the colder regions, you will need to layer your clothing to help stay warm for the overnight stay. Also make sure you have a winter hat, scarf, and gloves, especially if the temperatures plan to drop below freezing (32°F).

Bring a blanket - For regions where it will be below freezing, bringing a blanket or sleeping bag will not only make you feel more comfortable but will help prevent hypothermia and frostbite.

Bring a buddy - Having a buddy will not only help the experience to be more enjoyable (depending on who you bring), it will come in handy right before the doors open. Having a buddy with you who could bring the camp-out supplies back to the car without you having to leave the line and losing your spot is essential. A buddy also comes in handy when you need someone to go on a run for something warm to drink such as coffee, hot cocoa, or hot tea.

Pack a bag - It is a good idea to pack a duffel bag or backpack with supplies. These supplies could include snacks, water, and things to do to bide the time, such as playing cards or a book with a book light.

If possible, leave children at home with a care giver.

Stampedes and shoving matches are a common occurrence on Black Friday. This is not a safe environment especially for young children.

Shopping Clothing Tips

Shopping can really work up a sweat, especially on Black Friday. Here are a few tips on what to wear when you go to pick out the perfect Black Friday shopping outfit:

  • Wear something that is comfortable and easy to move in.
  • Wear comfortable shoes. This is not a time to wear heels.
  • Consider wearing pants with pockets.
  • When choosing a purse, don't choose a purse that is too large and bulky. Also choose a purse that is easy to carry that won't interfere with grabbing those holiday deals. If at all possible keep your purse at home or in the trunk of your car.
  • Keep jewelry to a minimum and nothing too loose.
  • Consider leaving bulky coats in the car, if possible. This keep you from having to keep up with a heavy coat in the store or overheating.
  • Fanny packs can come in handy, just be sure to thread the straps through your pant's belt loops to deter thieves.

Debit and Credit Cards

Many Black Friday planning experts suggest that you don't carry a lot of cash on you. Some crooks and criminals see Black Friday as a way to make some easy cash. With all of the crowds and madness it is easier to fall victim to pickpocket thieves. It is suggested that shoppers use credit or debit cards instead. Generally speaking, using debit or credit cards have more protection options in the event the card is lost or stolen.

Some store credit cards also offer consumers other incentives and protection. One of these may be if an item you buy is sold at a cheaper price within a certain time frame, then the participating store will refund the difference. Even still, with retailers tightening up their return policies, some credit cards offer a 90-day refund policy to protect consumers.

Another thing to consider is if you are working with a team that will be going to other stores, consider giving them a Visa or MasterCard gift card or Green Dot card. These may or may not protect against fraudulent charges but it will reduce the chance of losing cash. If there are several people you are shopping for, write their names on each gift card with a permanent marker.

Remember to ask for gift receipts!

Know Retailers' Return Policies

When determining the best stores to shop at this Black Friday, consider the retailer's return policies. Many retailers are making it more difficult for customers to return items. Also be prepared that if you must return an item that the retailer may credit it back to your card, which may take days or, in some cases, weeks. Another thing to consider is that some retailer will not refund you cash. Instead they may refund you on a store gift card.

Find out about whether they require a receipt with a return. Another thing to inquire about is how long you have to return an item. This comes in handy when you plan to include a gift receipt with the gift.

Before heading out on your Black Friday shopping adventure, be sure to get plenty of rest. Shopping can be tiring anytime, but on Black Friday it can be exhausting. Also, be sure to eat a good breakfast but don't overeat.

By following these simple tips and tricks, it will help you survive shopping on Black Friday with your sanity still intact. It will also help you maximize not only your time but your savings as well.

© 2014 L Sarhan

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    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 3 years ago from USA

      I've actually never shopped on Black Friday in the past, but just for fun I'd like to do it. I have to make sure I really don't need to though if I'm going to enjoy it. Found this article on Rich's The News That Matter (@Squid_Rich on Twitter). Thanks for the really good tips and info. Thumbs up and pinned to my Holiday Christmas board.