The biggest shopping weekend of the year is creeping closer by the day. While Consumer Reports recommends signing up to receive special offers and alerts by email from your favorite retailers, that alone won’t get you everything you want this holiday season. Take some time to check out the best ways to have a triumphant shopping trip this Black Friday.
Make a Game Plan
Some retailers have allowed their Black Friday 2014 ads to be leaked early, giving you even more time to plan your route. Many stores abide by the rule of “flash sales,” where a severely discounted price is only available for a window of a couple hours, while others simple stick to a “first come, first served” sale tactic. Most, however, mix the two, which makes planning your shopping trip carefully more important than ever.
Give yourself ample time to get in and get what you want in the given timeframe. If you’re after a flash sale, try to get there and be ready when it starts—trying to fight your way through while the sale is in full swing could not only result in disaster, it could mean the product you’re after is sold out by the time you make it to the shelf.
Try to get all the shopping at a particular store done in a single trip. If, like most Black Friday shoppers, you intend to hit more than one retailer to mark everything off your list, giving yourself a set amount of time in each store could be the best way to make the most of every minute of the sale. You can use a mapping app to figure out the quickest route to each store and save yourself some fuel in the process. Try to plan your route in a loop if possible, so you start and finish close to home, with the stores in the middle being the furthest away. You’ll be tired and more than a little footsore by the end of the shopping day, to finishing off within easy driving distance of home will make sure you get back safely.
Safety Always Comes First
Speaking of safety, it’s important to periodically remind yourself that no sale is worth physical harm. The Huffington Post reported multiple instances of violence spurred on by the Black Friday shopping frenzy in 2013, and while Wal-Mart reported that it had stepped up security efforts and seen a noticeable decrease in shopping violence as a result, that doesn’t absolve shoppers like you of responsibility. Don’t push anyone, and if you’re the one being pushed do not push back. It’s better to just not get involved—if you witness dangerous behavior or skirmishes, report the issue to a nearby employee and let the people in charge take care of it.
Keeping safe extends past the store, as well. Expect traffic delays in all major transit areas during the peak hours of Black Friday shopping.
Be a Good Shopper
That doesn’t mean being the shopper that gets every single deal that goes up on BFAds in the weeks leading up to the big day. Rather, being a good shopper means treating other people in the store with respect, especially the employees working to make your experience quick and safe. Remember that retail employees generally have no choice as to whether or not they work on Black Friday—many of them are scheduled to work Thanksgiving evening, in fact, for a shopping day coming to be known as “Grey Thursday.” If you’re mistreated by an employee, Pocket-Lint.com agrees that it’s within your rights to be stern in response, but that doesn’t mean causing a scene by yelling or demanding an employee to do something they’re legally bound to not do. This includes everything from offering a substitution because a sale item is sold out to putting something “on hold” while you shop around the store for the rest of your purchases. Remember that on Black Friday, customer holds on certain products aren’t allowed by 99 percent of retailers, so if you get your hands on something that’s selling out fast put it in your cart or pay for it right away.
Other ways of being a good Black Friday shopper include:
- Not fighting over sale items if there’s only one left
- Being aware of quantity limits in advance (and not trying to find ways around them)
- Not making a mess of a display while getting your items
- Reporting spills, messes, and slipping hazards to employees if you see them
- Being gracious and thanking employees for the hard work they’re doing
It’s your responsibility to be the best shopper you can be this Black Friday, whether it’s in the aisles or the checkout line. Never blame an employee for something that’s the fault of the company or another shopper.
The best way to have a safe and successful shopping trip this holiday season is to stay aware—of your surroundings, of your favorite retailers’ special offers, and of what products you absolutely can’t afford to miss this year. Refer to sites like BFAds to stay abreast of all the best deals as they’re released, and plan your strategy carefully. Getting the most out of Black Friday means taking the least from your bank account and being the best shopper you can be. Stay aware, updated, and don’t miss out.