According to the National Retail Federation, last year 35 million shoppers visited stores and store websites on Thanksgiving and 22% of you have already begun shopping this year!
With so many shoppers out there and six days LESS between Thanksgiving and Christmas to shop this year (frightening thought, isn’t it?), you’ll see some serious competition out there to get your attention.
Here are 17 Tips to find Hot Black Friday deals, including the best 5 Black Friday mobile apps, to help you score BIG without dropping dead or going broke!
Ready. Set. GO!
How many of you get up at the crack of dawn (or should I say BEFORE dawn) to get a start on holiday shopping? My sleep is too precious and my family pays for it when I don’t get my sleep. Picture me looking disheveled and barking. Not a pretty sight I assure you, so you won’t find me busting down doors in the wee hours of the night. However, for those of you who are early birds, let’s get the party started so you can catch your worm. Here are some things to consider:
- Is it really a deal or a steal? Just because the ad reads “Cameras under $100” or “Below retailer’s costs” doesn’t mean it’s a doorbuster deal. Retailers try to lure you in with such words but they are often for non-brand name models that are of lesser quality or less specs. So before you buy, make sure it has all the specs you want like a standard manufacturer’s line. For example, Wal-Mart is offering a 32-inch TV on Thanksgiving for $98 and Target is offering a 50-inch TV for $229.
- Ask about the return policy before you buy. I fell trap to this several years ago. I bought this great coat for Sister Chef at 70% off. But guess what? They had a 15-day return policy on it and Christmas was a month away. Once Sister Chef opened the gift, the coat didn’t fit and the 15 days had since expired. Precious time and money was wasted. Watch for the fine print: some retailers will charge a restocking fee for electronics and furniture or have other complex return policies. If you’re an impulse shopper, return policies can be your worst nightmare. Once the shopping buzz wears off and you have buyer’s remorse, you’ll want to return any items you didn’t feel good about.
- Do stores offer price matching? Some stores match a competitor’s price on an identical item–including Target, Wal-mart, and Best Buy. Strategically plan your shopping strategy by checking out stores’ policies ahead of time. You’ll significantly cut your driving time in half if they offer price matching. Don’t forget to take the ads with you as proof of the lower price and model numbers.
- Getting up at the crack of dawn can be rewarding. Several retailers will give the first several people in line extra discounts, gift certificates, bundle rewards, scratch-off cards, and more. Just bring a warm coat and caffeine to keep you warm and awake while you wait for the doors to open!
- Hop on the train early. Many major retailers offer PRE-Black Friday deals either the day before Thanksgiving, the day of Thanksgiving, or as early as a week before.
- Create a virtual shopping list. Gottadeal.com allows you to create a virtual list with links to product information, coupons, and additional discounts and will alert you to when new store ads or coupons are added to the site.
- Shop in numbers. Ever heard the saying “the more the merrier”? That’s the case on Black Friday. Bring a shopping buddy along so you can take turns waiting in line while the other tears through the store looking for deals.
Not An Early Bird? You Can Still Score Big
I like to comparison shop, look at circulars, and join loyalty programs to find the best deals. Here are some tips to help you avoid the crowds but still score a good deal:
- Look for extras. Major manufacturers won’t mark down their products below a certain price, so retailers will sweeten the deal by bundling it up with extras–like offering in-store credit toward other items, gift cards with the purchase of an item, or other crazy daisy deals. Both Target and Wal-Mart are offering Thanksgiving Day deals on iPads that come with a $100 gift card.
- Best Black Friday Apps. Have an iPhone or Android? There are great apps to download that will bring up competing prices in nearby stores to compare prices fast: ShopSavvy (brings up price comparisons and reviews), RedLaser (scan a bar code and the app will bring up price comparisons at other stores), BuyVia (this has 3 shopping apps: a Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and general shopping apps), Net-a-Porter (Search for luxury clothing and create gift lists), ShopKick (Gives shopper rewards that can be redeemed for goods).
- Join loyalty programs. If you sign up for a store’s loyalty program, you will often be rewarded with exclusive deals just for being a member. Some will even reward you deals in advance of Black Friday, give you the freshest deals, provide special savings, sneak peaks, and more just for being a loyal member.
- Check the store’s site for up-to-date info. Retailers are constantly trying to undercut each other. One day they might be offering a 10% off deal, but at the last-minute may slash that to 15% off to beat Joe Blow’s price down the street. So before you shop, check stores’ info for up-to-date deals and sign up for their e-mail alerts.
As you may have guessed, this is my preferred way of shopping and from what I understand, half of all shoppers say they plan to shop Cyber Monday. Here’s what you can do to get the most of your money:
- Find Pre Cyber-Monday Deals. Have you noticed there really isn’t a Cyber Monday any more? Everyone seems to try to squeeze in the deal before Cyber Monday. How do you keep up? There’s a great bookmark button called “Hukk It”. Register for the bookmark on their website hukkster.com and install the button. Whenever you see something you like on the Web, hit the “hukk it” button and you’ll receive an email alert when it goes on sale. Talk about suh-weet!
- Look for free shipping. It’s really not a deal or a steal or a discount if you end up having to pay for shipping on top of the product. Whatever you got off the price of the product comes right back at ‘cha with shipping costs. So don’t click on “purchase” unless you see free shipping or free in-store pickup. If you don’t, look at a competitor. My motto is: If it’s free, it’s for me.
- Comparison shop. Who has time to scour the Web to comparison shop? If you do, I want your job. Google Chrome’s Hand add-on has your back. By adding their Hand browser add-on, it does the comparison shopping for you and will alert you of better prices before you buy. Or try Pricegrabber.com to compare prices at competing retailers before you buy.
- Look for Online Coupons. The free Couponomatic browser add-on found at Befrugal.com adds promo-codes to the checkout boxes for you so you get the best deal. They guarantee if their coupon doesn’t work, you will get a $5 cash back bonus.
- Get up-to-date, around-the-clock Black Friday bargains at these websites: FatWallet.com, Bfads.net, Dealnews.net, GottaDeal.com, or BradsDeals.com
Now get out there and shop with success. I’d love to hear what deals you scored.
- Black Friday Shopping Tips by Frugal Living – About.com
- All You Magazine, Issue 11, November 15, 2013, pp. 114-115
- 10 Tips to Find the Best Black Friday Deals. The Star-Ledger – NJ.com