Ready to brave those Black Friday crowds and make this the year you succeed in sticking to your holiday budget? Use this guide to survive (and, dare we say, enjoy!) Black Friday, along with taking advantage of Black Friday deals. We think you’ll find that a little planning goes a long way in ensuring your shopping trip results in far more deals and sales than it does bargain-hunting disappointment.
Research Retailers’ Black Friday Offers
One way to stay on top of potential Black Friday deals and sales is to subscribe to a site like BlackFriday.com to receive alerts and digital circulars of Black Friday promotions offered by more than 200 major retailers as soon as they’re released.
Another strategy is to use online price comparison tools in the weeks leading up to Black Friday (and this works for other gift-giving holidays as well!) to research which retailers’ offers are legitimately worth the effort. When NerdWallet analyzed 2015 Black Friday ads from 21 retailers, they found that all but one had marketed some of the same Black Friday items in 2015 as they did in 2014 — at the same price. Their analysis also revealed that major retailers had already sold products marketed as Black Friday deals at the same or lower prices earlier in November.
Connect with Retailers Before Black Friday
Retailers often reward social media followers and customers who use their mobile app with additional Black Friday savings. Make a list of the retailers you intend to visit on Black Friday, connect with them on social media and download their mobile apps before you start shopping. To really stay in the know, adjust the settings on your mobile device to authorize push notifications from retailers you plan to visit so you’ll know of any “flash sale” deals they may offer on Black Friday.
Create a Transportation Plan in Advance
Compare the dimensions of your planned Black Friday purchases to the available space in your vehicle to make sure you can transport what you intend to buy (and maybe allow some wiggle room for those deals you just can’t pass up).
Shop in Comfort on Black Friday
Crowded stores, long lines and overflowing parking lots will dampen the spirit of any Black Friday shopper eventually, but proactive planning can limit your Black Friday discomfort:
- Hire a sitter for your children. The frustration you’ll save your family (and yourself) is priceless. Plus, it can be really tough for the “elves” to score deals with the gift recipients in tow.
- Plan for heat, thirst — and germs. Pack a small bag with at least one large bottle of water, some snacks like nuts, dried fruit or a protein bar, and wipes or sanitizer to clean your hands. Wear layers you can easily put on and take off, and shoes that are easy to walk in.
- Listen while you’re in line. Download a few episodes of your favorite podcast or an audio book to your mobile device, pack some headphones and embrace that slow, winding checkout line as time to temporarily refresh.
Arrange for Backup
Black Friday is not the best day to decide to “fly solo.” To help you succeed among the crowds, you may want to be equipped with multiple reinforcements:
- Bring along a friend or two. There are times to be alone in a crowd, but Black Friday is really not one of them. Engage a friend or two — or more — so that you can take turns in line, relieve some of the carrying duties or just cheer each other on.
- Carry multiple forms of payment. It’s unlikely that all of your purchases will be made using the same form of payment, so make sure that you give yourself options — whether that means cash, debit or credit, as appropriate.
- Include a portable phone charger. Charge your mobile device fully before you leave the house, and bring a portable charger you can use throughout the day. Mobile apps, coupons and push notifications can diminish your smartphone’s battery power quickly.
Confirm Price Adjustment, Return and Exchange Policies
Read the fine print associated with any Black Friday deal before you buy, and pay with a method that provides value-added benefits. For example, Discover cardholders enjoy price protection benefits, if a retailer lowers the price of an item they’ve recently purchased using their card, and extended warranties on some products purchased with a Discover card.