Yes, I know it seems like November just started and you probably haven’t even packed up the Halloween decorations yet — but it is time to start strategizing your Black Friday Shoppapalooza because it is less than three weeks away!
Haterz gonna hate, but you will have the last laugh when you are done with all your holiday shopping by the end of Thanksgiving weekend and know that you’ve saved possibly hundreds of dollars while doing it.
Like it or not, Black Friday has become part of the American holiday season. In fact, it seems like you can’t get away without a plan in place ahead of time, what with the massive crowds, the fact that pretty much every major retailer is in on the action, that the deals really are that good, and that it all takes place at ungodly times in the morning when one is better suited to sleeping off the food hangover from the excesses of the day before.
The first step, according to Consumer Reports, is to shop the Black Friday ads. It’s like The Art of War up in here, people: You have got to know your enemy.
A few of the best sites for finding all the biggies’ (Wal-Mart, Target, Toys R Us, Best Buy, etc.) Black Friday ads in one place are blackfriday.info, theblackfriday.com, and bfads.net. Some of the sites even let you filter the sales by the name of the item you are hoping to get. Don’t forget to take the location of stores into consideration when deciding where you’re going to buy. It might make more sense to spend a little more to buy all your toys at one shop, rather than humping all over town just to save ten bucks and could save you the heartbreak of driving across town only to find out the item you saw two stores ago, but didn’t buy because the price was better somewhere else, has sold out.
Check online first because if you can avoid going out into Black Friday madness and order up your wish-list via laptop from your bed, then go for it. Some stores will extend the same deals to their online shoppers as their in-store patrons, which might make a slightly more expensive price tag worth every penny in convenience. While you are checking the store’s policy on internet sales, sign up for their email alerts — they might offer extra discounts or notify you of sale items not advertised in their circulars.
Be on the lookout for QR codes. Be sure you have a QR reader installed on your smart phone so you can scan in any of those black and white barcode-like squares that you may find in the holiday shopping sections or on retailer’s web sites. Consumer Reports suspects that shops will be targeting these forward-thinking “mobile shoppers” and may offer special discount codes to those who check them out.
Be aware that sometimes you get what you pay for, meaning: be sure to double-check the return policy and warranty of especially marked down items. The manufacturer and retailer may have been able to work out that great price by sacrificing some of the privileges that you would normally expect from them.
On that note, don’t buy something just because the price is great, buy it because you need it. Everything in the stores will be set up to make an impulse shopper’s head (and wallet) explode — don’t fall for it. If you do your research, you can walk into the stores and get exactly what you want without getting swayed by big displays, “unbelievable” prices, or salesperson up-sells. Don’t forget that because of your forethought and planning, you still have a whole month to take care of any accessories your big purchases might need (like cables, batteries, camera straps, bags, etc.) online and probably for a better price.
Good luck and happy shopping! Oh, and did I mention that Amazon has already started their “Countdown to Black Friday” Gold Box Deals?
Photo Credit: John Henderson via Flickr.
Read more of Amy’s writing at Bitchin’ Wives Club.
Follow Amy on Twitter and Facebook!
And don’t miss these posts:
12 Outstanding Low-Cost Family Vacations for 2012
10 Husband-Inspired Pet Peeves That Make Me Crazy
Favorite Disney Princesses Brought Gorgeously to Life