Before you hit the stores on Black Friday, read this list and check it twice!
1. Do your pre-holiday homework. Visit your favorite retailers on-line and check out each of the Black Friday websites that leak retailer ads in advance. Also visit Black Friday sites, such as BlackFriday.com and BlackFridayAds.com.
2. Follow your favorite retailers on Facebook and Twitter. Smart retailers are offering inside deals, limited time offers and heads-up on sales to their on-line friends.
3. Buy all the local papers and devour the Black Friday ads. Make a list of the stores you plan to visit and determine which ones you need to visit first. You have a much better chance of getting the hot items you want if you have a plan of attack. You will also want to make a list of the things you want to buy so you can check them off as you go.
4. We know on Thanksgiving Day you’ll be busy cooking a big dinner and entertaining Aunt Mary and Uncle Jack, but you need to sneak away and do a quick spot check of your favorite retailers’ websites. Many retailers post coupons that are only available on-line. Print them or better yet keep a copy on your smart phone. Bring them with you on Friday for extra savings.
5. If the retailer offers deals via text message, sign up. These inside deals are usually good ones. Don’t worry; you can stop receiving the messages any time.
6. This year many retailers will be open on Thanksgiving Day. They're starting holiday shopping early and the deals are good. Check to see which stores in your community are open and get a jump on saving.
7. Watch for early, early shopping opportunities. As Thanksgiving turns into Black Friday some malls will be in full-on shopping mode. This year malls across the country will open their doors at midnight for shopping, entertainment, raffles, food and more. It’s a party!
8. To take advantage of the Early Bird Specials you have to get there early! Aggressive retailers are opening their doors earlier than ever before, many on Thanksgiving day. If you want that HDTV for $29.99 you’d better be one of the first five people on line. On Black Friday, “limited quantities” generally means single digits.
For example, this year Wal-mart starts its Black Friday deals at 8:00 PM EST on Thanksgiving, the deal with the buzz is a one hour special offered on Thanksgiving between 10:00 PM and 11:00 PM EST:
* Apple iPad2: 16GB with Wi-Fi: on sale for $399 plus you get a $75 Wal-Mart gift card
* Emerson® 32" 720p LCD TV: on sale for $148
* LG Blue-ray Player: on sale for $38
Here's a first: Wal-Mart guarantees that everyone in the store by 10:00 PM on Thanksgiving will be able to buy these three sale items. If these items sell out before 11:00 PM, customers in line will get a Walmart Guarantee Card promising the items will be at the store for them to pick-up prior to Christmas.
9. Shop your local, independent retailers! In addition to great deals, Indies like to add extra special touches. What’s better than noshing on homemade cookies and cocoa at your favorite neighborhood boutique? Hint: many of these retailers will also wrap your purchases for free.
10. The items retailers want to make sure you’ll see will be displayed on tables in the aisles and on end caps – in other words, you won’t be able to miss them. You’ll also want to head to the back of the store. Here’s where you’re likely to find unadvertised specials. The trick is that you have to walk through tempting regular-priced items to get to the deals.
11. Shop midday to avoid crowds. Activity slows between 10 AM and noon and picks up again in the evening. This is when shoppers who had to work on Black Friday begin to arrive. Another plus, many retailers now do the equivalent of Early Bird Specials all day long.
12. Dress appropriately, wear comfortable shoes, and bring extra shopping bags. And throw a bottle of water and some snacks in your bag. You know you’re going to get hungry and you probably will be too busy shopping to stop for lunch.
13. Stop by the information desks in malls, shopping centers, and stores and ask if they have special coupons, gift bags or other freebies.
14. Check each retailers return policy. A great deal isn’t such a great deal if your sister hates the sweater you bought her and she can’t exchange or return it.
15. Avoid the crowds altogether and shop at home. QVC, for example, has what it calls “Better than Black Friday Deals. HSN has a countdown to Black Friday calendar. Both will have great deals, plus flex-pay options. It’s like lay-a-way but you get the product right away.
16. On Saturday, November 24, shop your local independent businesses! Small Business Saturday let's you show your support for your community AND save money. Register your American Express card at the link above to receive a $25 credit when you shop at a participating small business.
17. And if you can’t find what you want on Friday or Saturday, or you miss out on the Early Bird Specials, don’t forget that Cyber Monday (11/26). This is the day on-line retailers give their best deals. Visit CyberMonday.com for a list of deals from all sorts of retailers.
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