Black Friday goes together with Thanksgiving like a Shark vacuum goes together with carpet. The chance to grab some bargains and have fun while doing so is too tempting to turn down for millions of people around the world. But how do you know your most recent Black Friday was successful?
OK, you might have bagged yourself some great bargains, but were they on your shopping list? If you just spent money on discounted items you didn’t really need, was your Black Friday productive?
The key to a successful Black Friday is planning ahead. This way, you get what you need for a knock-down price. Of course, we all know this is easier said than done. The world’s most famous shopping day can be complete chaos. It’s dog eat dog out there, so you need to have a plan of attack.
We’ve put together a few top tips for a productive and successful Black Friday.
Put a plan together
The worst thing you can do is start shopping without a clear plan of action. That’s a recipe for overspending and unnecessary purchases. Write a list of what you need or really want. And do a little preliminary research. If you need a new vacuum cleaner, for example, be ready to access the Shark website. And know when the sale is on.
Your plan should include both online and real-world shopping. After all, your main aim is to get the best possible deals. Ascertain what you need and where you can get it from. When Black Friday arrives, you won’t have to waste a second on research.
Work out your budget
Black Friday is only productive when you save money. Too many people get seduced by impulse purchases, and they end up actually spending more money than they’d like.
Work out what you can afford, and set aside the cash as soon as you can. On the day, don’t overspend, no matter how much you might be tempted.
As well as having an overall budget, set a limit for each item you want to buy. If you can’t find your item for less than your limit, don’t panic. A lot of Black Friday sales last a week or so.
Tip: Don’t be afraid to move your budget around a little on the big day. For example, if you overspend on the LCD TV you’ve had your eye on for so long, take the overspend from your vacuum cleaner budget.
Do some detailed research
So, you have a plan in place. While you’ve probably already done a little research, it always pays to go into detail. Start researching your potential purchases around a month before Black Friday.
Form a team
Let’s face it: shopping is always more fun when you do it with friends and family. But there’s a practical benefit, too. You can use a second and third pair of eyes to help you find your items and identify great offers. And, of course, you can reciprocate.
If you’re all shopping, make sure each person has an equal opportunity to find the Black Friday purchases they need.
When do your stores open?
Identify your Black Friday priorities. Which items are most important to you. Aim to get into the appropriate stores as they open. Depending on the offers available, the first few minutes of Black Friday can be very chaotic in certain stores.
It’s also a good idea to know when stores close. If your second or third choice purchases aren’t available, your Black Friday shopping trip could go down to the wire.
Where are the biggest deals?
From around two weeks before Black Friday, you should be able to find out which stores are offering the most impressive deals. Sometimes referred to as “doorbusters”, these deals are almost too good to be true. For example, and electrical retailer might have a limited number of smart TVs with up to 80% off.
Are there any buying restrictions?
Due to demand, some stores place very strict restrictions on how much you can buy. For example, you might want to buy the latest games console for all your children. If the deal is good enough, the store might limit each shopper to just one.
Fortunately, there are ways around this. For example, you could ask a friend to purchase a second console for you. Or you might be able to travel to a different store in the chain. As long as you know about any purchasing restrictions in advance, you can make the necessary plans.
It’s often tempting to get carried away at the prospect of saving a huge amount of money on a new vacuum cleaner. You walk into a shop, and the 50% off deal at the door seems too good to be true. So you buy it. But how do you know that the shop three doors down doesn’t have an even better deal.
Always compare prices for items you want in at least three stores or websites. And if you have time, compare using five different options. This is a very competitive time of year for retailers. They all research one another’s prices in advance. If you do your homework, you can take full advantage of this.
Double-check your information
Sadly, there’s a lot of misinformation around during Black Friday and the rest of the week. This is often down to careless whispers, human error or unscrupulous marketing. Never take anything a third party says about Black Friday deals at face value. Check out the information yourself with the store in question.
Plan rest breaks
If your Black Friday is taking place wholly online, the experience shouldn’t be too demanding. But if you’re hitting a mall or high street, you’ll need to look after yourself. The most important thing to do is stay hydrated. So drink lots of water throughout the day.
It’s also a good idea to schedule rest breaks. Elevensies is great for re-energising after a chaotic Black Friday morning. A coffee and a small snack should set you up nicely until lunch.
As for lunch, make it an event. However, steer clear of popular restaurants between 12pm and 2pm. Black Friday attracts thousands of shoppers to retail areas — most of whom go for lunch at the traditional time. If you hang back a little and opt for a late lunch, you won’t have to waste time waiting for your meal to emerge from a very busy kitchen.
Treat the experience as a fun activity
Black Friday shouldn’t be stressful. If your heart rate and blood pressure are raised throughout the day, you’ll miss out on deals and make yourself feel ill.
From the moment you hit your first Black Friday sale, adopt a positive mental attitude. And accept that there will be deals or purchases you’ll miss out on. Treat every deal you find as a bonus.
This is why it’s important to make Black Friday a social experience. If you have someone to enjoy the experience with, the whole day is more like a party than a serious shopping excursion.
It’s never too early to start planning your Black Friday. Establishing what you need and where you’re likely to find your purchases now will help you a great deal when the big day arrives.
But the most important thing to remember is that Black Friday shouldn’t blacken your mood. Keep things fun and light-hearted, and you should enjoy a very productive day.