Thanksgiving weekend is one of the most important times of the year in America, for a multitude of reasons. It is a time for family and friends to come together to enjoy each other’s company, express thanks for what they have, and eat a whole lot of delicious food to make the time even better. But it is just as important for retailers. Black Friday is easily the most hectic shopping extravaganza of the year, so stores everywhere open anywhere from Thanksgiving afternoon to dark-and-early Friday morning, greeted by mile-long lines of eager shoppers waiting at their doorstep. Here are useful Black Friday/ Cyber Monday shopping tips for you to get the best deals without regretting later on!
It’s an understatement to call Black Friday an event: it is more the Olympics of the retail world. The frugal mayhem has since been extended to include Cyber Monday, which includes online retailers into the madness, often resulting in crashing websites due to the mass amount of orders being placed in a mad dash for great deals. This is a day that can be brutal, and even outright dangerous, and this year we may be facing some especially good deals.
Retailers, such as Macy’s, Net-a-Porter, Nordstrom, and Urban Outfitters, have declared the likelihood of exceptionally discounted goods, since they are facing a difficult quarter. This may not be ideal for company executives, but shoppers everywhere will be in fashion heaven once the sales are released.
If you plan to be one of the patrons poised and ready to flood the stores, you’ll need to prepare yourself for the insanity to ensue. There are many unspoken things about Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and we’d like to offer some friendly advice on how to make it through the impending glorious disaster.
Black Friday Shopping Tips
Black Friday is the most physically demanding of the two, so we’ll start with these Black Friday shopping tips.
1. Come Prepared
This is one of the biggest keys to success for Black Friday. If you have specific items you need to grab, make a list and be sure to find them in the store as fast as you can once the doors open up. Otherwise you may face a shortage in the store! Of course, it’s quite all right to not have a plan – if you’d like to show up and see what you can find, or just watch the ensuing chaos unfold – in which case just show up and have a blast.
2. Do Your Homework
The deals aren’t only available on Friday anymore, since many retailers feature different pre-Black Friday deals in the days surrounding Thanksgiving weekend. It’s important to look at advertisements and in-stores early and often so you can find what you’re looking for and be in the store at just the right time.
3. Remember the Long Lines
One of the most dreaded parts of Black Friday shopping is the infinitely long lines. It’s important to take this into account, especially if you’re on a time crunch. The worst thing you can do for yourself here is to show up, have a cart full of great deals, and not be able to wait the three hours in the line to checkout.
4. Budget, Budget, Budget!
Even with a prioritized list you’re going to get sidetracked and drawn in by the sales staring you in the eyes. The temptation to overspend is always difficult to overcome, but it’s helpful to make a budget – and stick to it! If you know this will be a problem for you, maybe it’s time to leave the credit card at home, and just bring the money you’re willing to spend in cash.
5. Price Check
Major retailers are all involved with Black Friday, so if there’s something you know you need to buy, make sure to shop around before committing to one store. Just looking at the stores’ websites will help you locate the cheapest option in your area, but there are websites dedicated to doing that for you.
You might try out price-compare sites to help save on some searching time. The best part is that many price-compare sites also have apps, so you can take them to the store with you on your smartphone. So if you find that to-die-for deal you can’t live without, you can make sure you’re getting the best possible price.
6. Know What NOT To Buy
Some deals look extra-tantalizing on Black Friday, but they’re not always as good as they seem! Certain products are best to steer clear of during this massive sale.
With electronics, cheaper sometimes means lower quality; some products are manufactured solely for this event, meaning lower-quality parts and less features for more popular devices in order to reach a great discount price.
Fitness equipment, linens, winter clothes, and holiday decorations all go on sale after the holidays, so the beginning of January will be your best bet for these items. Black Friday may have some decent prices on some of these items, but if you don’t have an immediate need – wait!
Cyber Monday Shopping Tips
Now we’ll get into Cyber Monday shopping tips. A lot of our Black Friday tips can also translate online, but there are also some specific to the online events.
1. Price Check
This is just as important as it is for Black Friday shoppers, only this time it’s much easier! You’re already scoping out the best deals, so it’s just an extra click away to make sure you’re ordering from the right site before you hit the checkout button.
2. Use Social Media
Many retailers advertise special deals and coupon codes for followers of their page, so make sure to keep an eye on your favorite shopping spots so you don’t miss out on the deal of a lifetime. Some retailers may even add on some special in-store deals, so make sure to keep your eyes and options open for your shopping adventure!
3. Don’t Be Fooled
There are tons of great online shopping experiences for Cyber Monday, but there are also scam websites that pop up even more frequently around this time. Don’t experiment with a new site you’ve never heard of, unless you do your research first. If you can’t live without whatever item you found, do a lot of research on the website – look up reviews, find reputable sources, and make sure you’re dealing with a legit website before giving away any of your credit card information!
4. Prep Your Equipment!
Make sure you have a fast, reliable computer ready for your use once the big deals hit Cyber Monday. Use your own computer or one of your close friends’, but stay away from shared computers, in order to best protect your credit card information. Keeping your info safe is the number one priority, but if you can do that AND have a fast laptop to get those deals in your carts and in checkout super-fast, take the opportunity!
5. Free Shipping Is Your Best Friend
One of the best perks of Cyber Monday is the amount of online retailers who use free shipping options. Some sites will have a purchase minimum, which is relatively low, but many will have free shipping with no minimum. Take this from a Cyber Monday veteran – even if you only find a $1 item, don’t be afraid to order it if there’s free shipping. This may feel like a cheap move, and maybe it is, but they’re having the sale for a reason, don’t feel bad for reaping the benefits!
6. Be Serious About Your Budget
This is arguably more crucial than budgeting your Black Friday trip. For me at least, it’s so much easier to spend money when I don’t even have to swipe my debit card. It’s a lot easier to fill up your virtual cart with everything you want than it is in a store, so it’s very important for you to give yourself a budget, and be honest with yourself about it.
With these shopping tips in mind, we’ll set you free. Black Friday is days away, so you have just enough time to begin planning! Look at what’s being advertised now, and keep an eye out for more Black Friday ads as they’re released online or in print.
So prepare your lists, figure out that budget (make sure it’s fair!), and get ready to brave the cold before entering the stores, or just get cozied up with your laptop to scoop up the Cyber Monday sales from the comfort of your own home. I’ll be getting ready to do both events, myself: happy hunting!
Photos courtesy of Vogue, @LenaPerminova