Whether you were one of the millions of Black Friday shoppers in the U.S. last year, or you are joining in for the first time, being well organized is key. A good plan will help you prioritize and check items off your list. Here are six tips to seize big savings the day after Thanksgiving:
Do your homework
Start days before Black Friday, the beginning of the holiday shopping season. Jot down your gift list so you know what you need to purchase. Then take the very important step of determining your budget.
Get a jump on sales by signing up for email alerts at your favorite retailers and liking their Facebook pages.
Compare prices, products and deals
Research the normal retail price of the items you want, the best sale price to date, then the best Black Friday advertised price at each store in your shopping area. Keep in mind the best deal isn't always on Black Friday.
When it comes to comparing prices, the Better Business Bureau recommends doing so online.
Save money and anguish by checking consumer reports and reviews on special big-ticket items like electronics, games and items you might not know much about.
Make a game-day plan
“Make a list and prioritize where you should go and when,” says the Better Business Bureau's Black Friday tip sheet.
By making the list, you can determine where each item you want will be the cheapest and what time the stores are planning to open. Then, you can map out the most practical travel route.
Before the big shopping day finally arrives, visit the stores a few days early to get a better understanding of the floor plans. You can map out the departments you need to visit and create a true, detailed plan of attack.
Avoid crowds if you can
Many department stores have limited-time offers, or items only available until they are sold out. If your list includes those items, you may feel the need to be at the store early.
However, that's not always necessary. If you don't have a particular need for hot-ticket items, arrive at the store a few hours after opening to avoid the morning rush.
To avoid crowds altogether, shop online. Some big-name stores have specials that will take place online at the same time as they do at the actual stores.
Use your smartphone
Instead of carrying lists and advertising flyers for each store, simply install checklist apps. You'll have all your gift lists and prices in one convenient place. Upload flyers when needed to double-check or dispute prices.
You can also use your smartphone to navigate between stores.
Stick to your plan
Be sure not to let the frenzy of the day affect your judgment. The USA.gov consumer tips website warns consumers not to buy on impulse or under pressure and decide in advance what you want and what you can afford.
“No matter how big a bargain something may seem, once you've spent your budgeted amount, put the credit card away,” Kristy Welsh writes on her creditinfocenter.com Black Friday checklist.
Never fear if Black Friday comes and goes with gifts still to be purchased – Cyber Monday and other holiday sales are just around the corner.