Black Friday…that ‘morning after’ when bargain-hunters descend like a swarm of locusts and devour every ‘hot buy’ in site, leaving exhausted, shell-shocked store employees and ravaged shelves. It’s the great American dream in the land of plenty!
I have braved this tsunami of shoppers before and have a battle plan to share, worthy of General Lee himself! My plan involves three phases: SURVEY, STAKE-OUT & SIEGE and SWEEP-UP
Phase 1 is SURVEY. Ergo, plan ahead. Make yourself a complete chart of what, where, when and how much.
WHAT: Know what you want. Make a list of everyone you need to shop for. Have a budget for each person and several ideas for gifts for them. Be specific. If the store is out of what you wanted, and another store had it on sale move the item to that store’s list and go.
WHERE: gather flyers from all the local merchants that you will visit. You can also go online to the store’s website. Get an idea ahead of time about what will be on sale when. I discovered two years ago that I didn’t need to wait for the Thanksgiving Day paper to see what would be on sale for Black Friday. It showed up on some websites ahead of time.
You see, the tactic for huge sales like Black Friday is for the stores to wait until the last minute to tell consumers what is on sale. They want you to shop all their sales! So they will have the ‘before Thanksgiving sale’, ‘Thanksgiving Day’ sale, the ‘Thanksgiving weekend’ sale, etc., as well as the ‘early bird’ sales we generally associate with BF!
When considering where you will shop, consider location. Just north of Grand Haven, we have a very nice shopping center with a super store called Meijer which is similar to Walmart. Since our nearest Walmart and Target are about 20 miles away, I choose to skip Walmart and Target for the early bird sales even though Meijer may be $1-$2 more for the big sale items.
At this shopping area, we have what I consider to be the best stores for the broadest needs. We have Toys R Us, Menards, Best Buy, Circuit City, Kohls’, Sears, Kaybee Toys, Barnes and Noble, Old Navy plus all the mall merchants. Make a timeline of the stores you want to hit and when.
HOW MUCH?Do a cost analysis. Obviously, find who has what you want at the best price. But consider also, who has the largest number of items on your list at the best overall prices. Is it worth going to a store for only one item because it’s a few dollars less? Not on Black Friday!
Many of the exceptional values are dependent upon a mail-in rebate. Keep your coupons, receipts and rebate coupons well-organized. You’ll want to consider purchases with a rebate carefully. Will you follow through and mail it in? If not, maybe it’s not the best deal. I have done many rebates and it can work well, but you won’t get your check for about 6-8 weeks. Also, make copies of everything you mail in, especially your receipt, which you may need for other items. If the store offers a gift receipt, take it!
WHEN: The BF ‘early bird’ sales begin anywhere from 5am to 7am and last 4-6 hours. If you plan to hit several early bird sales, then obviously choose the earliest store sales first. Walmart has traditionally started the earliest at 5am. However, Walmart and other stores are now open 24hours and you could easily plan to arrive about 3 or 4 am, do your regular weekly shopping and be on hand to move in on the sales when the ‘early bird’ sales officially begin. Some featured items are on sale all day or all weekend. So you could plan to hit those sales and stores later in the day.
Phase Two is STAKE-OUT and SIEGE: On Black Friday, be prepared. Dress comfortably and wear comfortable shoes. Be rested and well-fed. Have a sitter for the kids. Bring your lists and any coupons. Plan to pay with your debit or credit card. Plastic makes things go more smoothly. The lines will be long and some people will be crabby. Do everything you can to make it smooth and easy. This is not a time for browsing. You have to move fast! You’ve got to ‘bag it, kill it and get out ‘ on Black Friday!
Phase Three is SWEEP-UP. After you have hit all the early bird sales, get some lunch and relax! If you have time left (and energy) go to the stores with the all-day or weekend sales. Typically these stores have not run out of the sale items, even by nighttime. This is a good time to snatch up some miscellaneous deals. This is the time that I would hit the superstore sales that I chose to forego in preference to other early bird sales, like Target or Walmart. You can do this phase on Saturday or Sunday of the holiday weekend.
Check out my included websites for stores with the best sales! Good Luck and Happy shopping!