This year, thanks to all the medical bills that are piling up, I have decided to sit out the Black Friday (day after Thanksgiving) sale :( But I impart unto you the knowledge and experience gained from years of surviving the stampede and gaining some sweet deals :) Here we go, the ten commandments of Black Friday shopping.
Commandment 1: Thou shalt be prepared.
There are many, many websites that allow you to do your research ahead of time and find out which deals are really worth it, and which are not. You don’t need to worry about not receiving the fliers any more since adscans to most popular stores are available online. Add to that the deal discussions on forums and blogs, and there really is no excuse for not being prepared. Here is a list of few good sites to get you started.
- Excel spreadsheet of all the deals (via Fatwallet. You’ve got to see it to believe it!!!)
- fatwallet forums
Commandment 2: Thou shalt make a prioritized list.
Not all deals are created equal. As you look through the different sites, note down the items that you like best (and really need), the store where it is available and price at which it is available. After you are done looking through all the deals (if ever), then organize your notes so that they are prioritized by the stores which have the most number of items that you would really want to buy.
Commandment 3: Thou shalt know the store layout.
There is no point in going to a store and trying to find out where the item might be. So stick to stores that you most often go to, so you are familiar with the layout. I read on one of the websites that many stores have a “store map” which they hand out during Black Friday sales. I personally have never found it, but it is definitely won’t hurt to ask a sales person for one (if you can find a sales person in that crowd, that is).
Commandment 4: Thou shalt know the sale hours.
More and more stores have the midnight madness and all-night marathon sales these days. And almost all have exclusive “early bird” and “door buster” deals. Make sure you know the timings for the items on your list and that you are there as early as possible if you really want to lay your hands on that item.
Commandment 5: Thou shalt know the store policies.
The stores do not have unlimited supplies of items on sale, and the hot items in particular are very limited. It is not uncommon for the stores to have only 15 – 50 items of big ticket products like TV, laptops, game consoles etc on door buster sales. So, if you are not planning to camp out the store all night and elbow your way in when the doors open, don’t bank on such items. Also, many stores have per-person limits on the number of items. For instance, you may find a 2GB USB flash drive for $7.99, but more than likely you will not be able to walk out with a handful of these. Don’t waste your time on lost causes.
Commandment 6: Thou shalt shop in tag teams.
Always, always go to a store in twos or threes. The first person goes directly and stands in the check out line, while the others go scour for the deals on their list. The person in the checkout line acts as the central coordinator. In addition, if you have a big group of friends share your lists with each other and split up into different groups and hit different stores. Remember commandment 5 though – you may be limited by how many items a person can buy. So use this strategy wisely.
Commandment 7: Thou shalt make sure that your cell phones are fully charged.
If you are tag teaming or better still coordinating with friends in different stores, you should be able to communicate efficiently and fast. So it is vital that everyone has cell phones that are charged to the hilt. In addition, treat cell phones with Internet access as premium commodity since they will come in very handy for looking up the reviews, price comparison and staying up to date on the latest deals. Make sure you carry your car charger with you, so you can charge the cell phones back up while going from one store to the other.
Commandment 8: Thou shalt wear comfortable clothes and preferably running shoes.
The Black Friday sale is not about being fashionable – its all about being efficient and agile. You have the rest of the year to fashionably show off your spoils. But for this one day, make sure you dress in sensible comfortable clothes and shoes. Also, you might want to go with the layers approach – even though it is freezing outside, it may be pretty warm inside the stores because of the crowds of people milling about.
Commandment 9: Thou shalt keep some water and snacks in the car.
If you have just a few items on your list and after hitting a store or two, you plan to retire, then you can skip this one. But if you are a hard core veteran and plan to hit many different stores and come home with the best of the deals that can be had, you better make sure you have enough nutrition supply in the car to keep you fed and hydrated between stores.
Commandment 10: Thou shalt not buy junk just because it is on sale.
Finally, pay particular attention to this one. Just because it is on sale does not make it a deal. If you don’t want it, or if it is just poor quality junk that will likely break down after two uses, you are much better off without it. Buying junk will undermine all the hard work, melt away the benefits of all the deal that you scrambled so much to grab. So only buy those items that you really need and are really worth buying.
Well, have fun y’all. I will be rooting for you from the warm comfort of my home :) Happy Thanksgiving and seeya back on Monday.
Other similar articles from around the web:
- Black Friday Stories, Thoughts and Strategies @ Wise Bread.
- How to Shop Like an Expert @ Alpha Consumer column on usnews.com.
- Black Friday Thoughts and Strategies @ Not Made of Money
- 2007 Black Friday Buying Guide for Electronics and Gadgets @ Finance Is Personal.
*Image Credit: Photograph by Johnia! [via Flickr]