It’s almost Black Friday, and anyone who’s shopped on this busy day in years past has probably seen some stores become wrestling match arenas when they only have a few of the most-wanted items left on the shelves.
Here are tips for deal-seekers who will take on the shopping adventure.
1. Shop With A Plan
Make a list and check it twice to make sure you don’t forget items you want, or arrive at the store and realize you don’t have the right model number of the item you want. You might also need coupons or codes to get the lowest prices on certain products. Determine which stores you’ll hit first and what routes you’ll take to get there. Bring enough cash and make sure your credit cards (or at least one) have enough room to buy what you want.
2. Split Up
Traffic on Black Friday can be just as bad as during a workday in some areas as thousands of others head to the same stores. If buying is more important to you than shopping, send friends and family members to different stores so each of you can arrive early before the items you want all get scooped up. You won’t get to socialize with friends during your shopping trip, but at least you’ll all most likely get the items you want.
3. Call Ahead
Don’t rely on websites and circulars to know when store doors open or whether or not items you want will be in stock. Visit the store or call and talk to a manager several days in advance to get inside advice that can help you score the prize you want. You might find out that items you want will still be available and on sale on Saturday and Sunday, allowing you to avoid the Friday rush. You might find out that you have to arrive ridiculously early with little hope of getting a limited supply of items, and can instead arrive later and get a rain check for later delivery of your item.
4. Arrive Early
Many stores now open on Thanksgiving, either during the day or in the evening, rather than waiting until Friday to open their doors. Make sure you know when a particular store opens its doors for Black Friday – your advance research will help you find out how early you need to arrive to be first in line (or close to it).
5. Protect Yourself
In addition to shoppers, shoplifters and pickpockets will be out in force on Black Friday. Make sure you secure your purse, wallet, cellphone, cash and credit cards. Using a fanny pack in reverse and tucking it under your shirt or blouse will help keep you secure. Keep a list of credit card customer service numbers separate from your purse or wallet so you can quickly call and cancel cards if they are stolen. If you’re going to multiple stores, don’t leave attractive boxes or wrapped packages on the seats of your car in plain view for smash-and-grabbers to steal. Put them in the trunk or put a blanket over them to make them less obvious.