Black Friday–I hear those words and I think of crazed people, up before dawn, slamming coffee and grabbing for the last Cabbage Patch doll (at least that what they were grabbing in my youth). But recently, I hear of more and more friends, AKA “normal people”, hitting the mall at 4:00 AM. In fact, I was just having a conversation with a friend who”did” her first Black Friday last year and loved it. She said at 5:00 AM the mall was filled with smiling faces, the music was blaring, the coffee shops were open and a general cheer was about the place–and best of all, the deals were amazing. So Breezy Mama decided to enlist some professional help for those newbies (like us) on how to get the most out of Black Friday. Donna L. Johnson, founder of the site Discount Thief, gives advice. . .
Is it worth getting up at 4:00 AM to hit the early sales?
If the big ticket item you want to score is on sale at that time and that time only – then yes. Plan your shopping around deep discounted, time sensitive deals. Your goal is to get the items with the biggest amount of savings first. Waking up at the crack of dawn for a $5 two-slice toaster isn’t worth it.
Are sales in store that much better than online?
Brick and mortar stores have adapted their sales strategies to mirror their online competition. In years past, you could guarantee an online promotion would beat an in-store advertised sale hands down. That’s just not the case anymore. This is why it’s extremely important for shoppers to do their homework to make sure you get the lowest price, regardless of if you’re buying online or in the store.
Are there any tips to finding the best deals online, so one doesn’t get overwhelmed by all that’s out there?
If the world of online shopping proves to be a challenge, find a deal site that does the bargain hunting for you. Dealnews.com is a one-stop shop for more than 2,000 retailers and the site is updated over one hundred times per day. Offers.com is broken down into different categories and can even help you locate savings in specific cities. Once you find what you want at a rock-bottom price, head over to freeshippingday.com to see which merchants are participating on December 17th.
If you can’t find what you want at a rock-bottom price on Black Friday, you can at least get free shipping if you buy it on December 17th. Go to freeshippingday.com to see which merchants are participating.
Before we head out to the malls or shop online, is there a “deal website” that we should check first for coupons?
The best place to go for coupons is directly to the store’s site. Not only will you be able to see all of the specials at a glance, you’ll also be front and center with the fine print. Go over ads with a fine tooth comb. Familiarize yourself with the store’s special Black Friday return policies, as well as how they’ll handle in-demand items that sold out before you got there.
Say we need to shop for a wide variety of things and choose to go to a big box store like Target or Wal-Mart–will we be getting a great deal or should we shop around?
Buying on Black Friday doesn’t guarantee the best deal. Start comparison shopping now to make sure you get the most bang for your buck. Some stores offer gift cards and rebates when you spend a certain dollar amount or purchase popular, in-demand items. When in doubt, shop where you’ll be rewarded with more savings.
What about Twitter and Facebook—I’ve heard these sites can help a consumer get a great deal—how?
If it’s done the right way, social media can be a big push in helping retailers create buzz around their promotions. Most major stores have already released their Black Friday ads on Twitter and Facebook. Tweets, status updates, and Instagram keep shoppers connected – in real time – to the brands they’re loyal to, as well as to those influenced by their buying decisions.
Should we bring a list to stay focused?
Don’t fall victim to SOS: shiny object syndrome. If you’re prone to impulse buying – get in, get out, and go home. Bring your list, stick to it, and don’t justify overspending. Hold on to your receipts for hassle-free returns should you end up getting buyer’s remorse.
I’ve heard that we need to dress comfortably, yet stylishly. Why can’t we just wear sweats?
Sweats, yoga pants, or the equivalent sounds like a good idea at four in the morning. Being comfortable doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice style. Think about the times when you look your best. Isn’t that when you also feel your best? This principal applies to shopping too. An outfit that reflects your confidence empowers you to take control and make better buying decisions. Pair layered tops under a long cardigan with leggings or jeans, and accessorize with a scarf. Add a pop of color with ballet flats and you’re now shopping in style!
Any other advice?
Yes. This is the only day out of the whole year that I advise against shopping alone. Black Friday should be a team effort. Round up your sisters, in-laws, and girlfriends and head out together. But instead of everyone heading over to the $5 toaster department, split up and assign an item to each person. This greatly increases the chances of going home with what you originally set out to get.
And last but not least, don’t feel compelled to shop on Black Friday if you haven’t paid off last year’s debt. This is just one of many shopping days leading up to Christmas. Take the time to devise a plan and set a spending limit. Hitting the stores ill-prepared will only work against you.
About Donna: Donna L. Johnson is an Austin, Texas-based blogger, inspirational speaker and radio personality. Summary of professional experience: 15 jobs by the age of 22. She started discountthief.com to fill a void in the fashion blogging space by encouraging women to shop responsibly and live within their means. When Donna isn’t writing, speaking, or reading, she visualizes being on the set of her dream job as a TV talk show host. Learn more about Donna’s latest steals and deals at Discount Thief.
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