How to Master Black Friday without Being a Sucker

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Thanksgiving is fast approaching, and while this holiday means something different to everyone (turkey, stuffing, apple pie, family gatherings and food comas come to mind…) we’re willing to bet that to many of us Thanksgiving is synonymous with Black Friday sales. Ah yes, Black Friday, aka the Friday the day after Thanksgiving when the entire world goes on sale and prices are slashed drawing in outrageous crowds of crazy shoppers all desperate to crush their holiday shopping list at a massive discount. And who can blame them? Black Friday sales are often so mind-blowing offers that it seems criminal to even consider paying full price for anything. In 2018, Black Friday brought in $6.2 billion in online sales, a growth of 23.6% year over year, according to the NRF. And reports show that over 165 million people shopped over the Thanksgiving weekend, including Black Friday and the days that followed. 

This year Black Friday falls on November 29th, so it’s officially time to prepare. Because for every major pro of Black Friday sales (super savings, getting holiday shopping done early) there are also major cons (getting trampled by stampedes of consumers and stressing out about everything you forgot to buy in the madness).

So what is the key to not only surviving Black Friday, but also thriving on the biggest shopping day of the year?

Experts and amateur shoppers agree: plan ahead.

Make Detailed Lists of What You Want to Buy

Note where you are buying it and who you’re buying it for. If you’re really prepared, you should also have backup items for each person in case the item you’re looking for is sold out. Write down the brand and the price (both full retail and expected sale price) and if possible try to map out your list in order of priority. Planning ahead will not only help you succeed at gathering everything on your shopping list, but it will also help prevent you from making impulse buys, which can add up over time and quickly send you over budget before you even get started.

Do Your Research Ahead of Time

Note where each item is available, and we’re not just talking about what stores you plan to hit. Be more specific and map out where in the store the items you want are located. Write down aisle and shelf numbers if you can. Stake out your store ahead of time. The absolute worst thing you can do amongst crowds of hungry shoppers is wander and waste time. That’s a surefire way to a) be stuck at the end of an endless line at checkout and b) miss out on the items you’ve been eyeing.

Shop Ahead of Black Friday

Whenever possible, buy items ahead of time online, or put items on layaway before Black Friday arrives. Some stores allow you to pre-shop. Some websites actually start their Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving day, allowing you to get a leg up on the competition and shop before the madness even begins. Check local store websites and promotional materials to find out the earliest opportunities to shop.

Always Try to Multitask

If you’re hitting physical stores, shop with friends and try to divide and conquer so that everyone has only a few items on their list, instead of one person trying to tackle it all. If you’re shopping online on either Black Friday or Cyber Monday, have multiple browsers open at once to maximize your chances of getting the best deals on all the items you want. 

And Above All Don’t Panic

Remember that even if you fail to get everything done on Black Friday, Cyber Monday happens just a few days later. And on Cyber Monday all of your favorite e-retailers offer price drops that rival the deals of Black Friday, which is why this shopping day has outperformed Black Friday in recent years. In fact, in 2018 Cyber Monday brought in $7.8 billion compared to Black Friday’s $6.2 billion in online sales. Remember Black Friday shopping is supposed to be fun, so don’t take it too seriously, take deep breaths, stick to your plan, and don’t get suckered into the madness.

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