Black Friday shopping is not for the timid, weak or unprepared. However, intense "doorbuster" stampedes aside, the savings are out there-if you know where to find them. So this year, between turkey roasting and pie baking, be sure plan your post-Thanksgiving spree. We've boiled down the process to five simple steps for ya:
1.) Make a shopping list and do your research.
Once you make a list, you can narrow your sale search to specific locations. Electronics are often the most sought-after devices on Black Friday, so if you're looking for an HDTV or smart phone, you'll probably be camping out in a parking lot.
Compare prices between stores and look into warranties and return polices. Since things will be hectic, you won't want to waste your time at a place that isn't giving you the best possible service.
2.) Arrive early to your midnight stop.
If the location is opening this early, it means you'll probably have a lot of competition. As we mentioned before, if you're seeking media devices, somewhere like Best Buy or Walmart (which is actually opening at 8pm on the 22 this year) is a great first stop.
3.) Re-group and do a department store sweep.
After re-fueling with an early breakfast, hit the department stores and malls that open around 5am or 6am. (Check your local newspaper or website for opening times in your area.) Come prepared with your aforementioned list and coupons, but don't stress too much: the big trial is out of the way. It's okay to do a little browsing, too.
4.) Take a nap and shop the boutiques.
By the time you've braved the midnight madness and checked the early morning markdowns, you're going to be exhausted. Head back home to crash for a couple hours before anything else. By early afternoon you'll be refreshed and ready for the most relaxing portion of the day: boutique hopping.
Shopping smaller stores on Black Friday can be a pleasant experience. Since hardcore hunters are mainly concerned with mass retailers, you won't have to deal with the giant crowds and sold out items. Keep in mind that this portion of your day is more about seeing what's out there; don't go into it expecting major savings. Small business owners will often run some sort of promotion, but it's most likely not going to be anything extreme. (but also keep in mind SMALL BUSINESS DAY is SAT and may find more deals then).
5.) Save some cash for online shopping.
Take inventory of how much you've spent and what's left to buy. E-tailers are usually cagey about releasing their sale information until right before it happens, so check periodically throughout the weekend, starting on Thursday morning. And rest up on Saturday and Sunday because you'll have to set your alarm early again to score those special Cyber Monday deals. At least this time around you get to do it in your pajamas, right?
Hope this helps:) - Shellie Hart
Photo: Flickr Creative Commons tshein