Black Friday - The Biggest Shopping Day of the Year:
Black Friday falls on the day after Thanksgiving and has earned the reputation of being the busiest shopping day of the year. The name was adopted from an accounting term - red ink denotes a negative profit margin, where as "in the black" denotes a positive profit margin. Many retailers make or break their sales goals between Thanksgiving and Christmas, with the season kicking off on the Friday after Thanksgiving, hence the name "Black Friday."
1. Check Out the Ads:
Your local Thanksgiving Day newspaper will be stuffed like your Thanksgiving turkey with ads, coupons, and circulars. This will be your number one source to local Black Friday savings. It will also help you organize your day to maximize savings, since many stores offer special discounts that are time specific. Example: Receive an extra 10 percent off if you shop before 11 a.m.
2. Do Your Research Before Friday:
If you are hoping to scoop up a deal on Friday on a big-ticket item, go ahead and get your research out of the way as soon as possible. A bad product is a bad deal no matter how cheap it costs. Being knowledgeable about the products you want to buy will help you avoid being sucker-punched with loud advertising for poor products. About.com is chocked full of buying advice on a wide variety of products from professionals who have the knowledge to help you make good decisions.
3. Compare Prices:
Utilize price-comparison Internet shopping sites such as PriceGrabber.com
to assist you in comparing product prices. Compare the "options" included with the product. Some retailers will low-ball the advertised price on a stripped down product, and then you will be charged extra for the necessary parts that will make the product perform as expected. A good example of this is often seen with super low-priced computer printers that come without the cable (cord) or printer ink.
4. Look for Early Bird Shopper Discounts:
The Early Bird Shopper will be the real winner on Black Friday. Stores offering early-day shopper specials usually run the deals from 5 a.m. until 11 a.m. and with no "rain checks," which means once they run out of the products, you are out of luck. Scanning the ads and routing your trip based on your buying priorities will be important with the time-sensitive deals that will be offered.
5. Beat the Crowds with Night Owl Discounts on Thanksgiving:
Internet shoppers can beat the early birds by shopping online in the pre-dawn hours of Black Friday. Many retailers will be posting their Black Friday specials, which can be ordered online and picked-up at your local store. Special "Web only" deals will also be available starting as early as Thanksgiving eve. Many of the the aggressive outlet malls and factory stores will be opening Thursday at midnight, with early bird promotions in hopes of capturing your dollars before the competition has opened.
6. Bring the Ads:
Many stores offer a "lowest-price" guarantee; however you may be required to produce a copy of the exact product being advertised for less. Most local retailers will not meet Internet prices even when the product is advertised on the same company's website, but it cannot hurt to try. Print the Web page that details the product and shows the advertised price. It may give you additional bargaining power and push the sales person into waiving other charges such as assembly fees.
8. Know the Store Policies:
Knowing the store policies on returns can help you determine where to buy. A previous trend of extending "return days" during the holidays is being seen less this year. Many retailers are including restocking fees and shorter return deadlines. Almost all of the major retail chains have clamped down on requiring receipts for returns and exchanges, and many keep a database of individuals who tend to abuse return policies. If you get onto an "abuse" list, prepare yourself to be turned down.
9. Ask for Gift Receipts:
Gift receipts generally include a description of the item purchased but do not disclose the price paid. Including gift receipts inside the gift box will make returns or exchanges easier for the gift recipient. Without proof-of-purchase, the recipient may be turned down for returning or exchanging the item or risk receiving an exchange for the current selling price of the item.
Since many retailers begin permanently slashing prices as soon as Black Friday is over, the difference between what you pay for a gift during December and what it sells for in January can be significant. Including a gift-receipt should help insure a hassle-free return experience for gift recipients.
10. Saying "Charge It" Can Pay Off
Obviously, there is no bargain in running up high credit card bills and paying big interest rates, however, with proper spending disciplines intact, using the right charge card can be of value to consumers. Many credit card companies entice consumers with free benefits, which include extended free warranties, return protection and sale price protection.
- Warranty Coverage - Your credit card company may offer to double or triple a manufacturer's warranty for free on a product you purchase - a good option instead of purchasing a service contract that costs money and has a shorter duration period.
- Return Protection - A credit card company may guarantee a refund on a product up to 90 days where as the store may not. This is becoming particularly more important as retailers stiffen the allotted return days.
- Sale Price Protection - Some of the credit card companies will offer this protection and refund you the difference if a product you buy is marked down further than the price you paid within a certain time frame (usually 60 days).
An enormous amount of advertising, locally and online, can be confusing and nearly paralyzing to the Black Friday bargain hunter. To maximize the benefits of hitting the stores on a day where there are big crowds and a better deal around every corner, developing a plan and doing preliminary research will help insure that the day is a shopping success.
Have fun saving money while you shop!