5 Tips for Smart Shopping on Black Friday

black-friday-lineA tradition that started in the 60s, Black Friday is considered the first official day of the Holiday Shopping Season.  Stores open at ridiculously early hours hoping to turn their accounting books from red (negative) to black (positive).  That being said, in the decades since it’s inception, it has practically become it’s own holiday that is exciting for shoppers and a nightmare for any retail employee.  From long lines to full out fights, shoppers can enjoy unbelievably cheap prices on items for the holiday season.  But unless you have a time machine, you can only get to one store when it opens.  So here are 5 tips on how to get the most out of your Day After Thanksgiving sales.

1. Make a list and prioritize.  I know I say this about everything but this is important for productive Black Friday shopping because many stores only have a few, maybe even 1, of the item they advertise at that wonderful price.  If you are looking for a 60″ Flatscreen and it’s $350, then chances are there are only a couple of them.  You can assume this with any big ticket item, particularly electronics, that are marked down.  The price is a good indicator.  The goal for stores is to drive sales so if you think you can get a $1000 off, so do 600 other people.  If it’s not a big deal to get that item, maybe scratch it off the list and try to get a few other items at lower prices rather than having someone try to scratch off your face because they want to save $1000 too. (Remember that year Tickle Me Elmo came out?  It may not have been a $1000 but angry moms were everywhere!)

2. Bring more than 1 form of payment and keep them in separate places.  This may sound crazy but amidst the chaos there will be thieves out there.  Whenever I’m traveling or doing anything out of the ordinary I like to bring 2 forms of payment and put say, one in a pocket or bag and another in my purse.  This is important because if someone does steal your wallet, they haven’t gotten everything and you can immediately cancel your card but not be SOL to continue shopping or just get home.  I also suggest that you use credit cards to buy these items because not only can you get points, but money stolen from debit cards typically aren’t replaced by most banking companies, however credit cards – when proven fraudulent – can be.  I’m definitely not encouraging you to rack up giant credit card bills.  Ideally you will have the money to pay these items off once you receive your statement, but in terms of protecting your finances while out shopping, leaving your debit card at home isn’t actually bad.  Just be sure to check with your bank about how your debit and credit card coverages work before hand.

3. Bring your own shopping bags.  If you know you’re getting something heavy, chances are the store may not have a hearty bag for you.  There is nothing worse that having a bag full of anything rip mid-shopping.  Bring your own heavy-duty plastic or cloth bags.  Not only are you helping the environment, but you are ensuring that you will not have to deal with dragging your precious new presents out of the dirt and snow.

4. Rest up!  Thanksgiving is a great day to stuff your face and be lazy.  While I hope many of your are out there volunteering and participating in your community to show how grateful you are, make sure you get some sleep, pack a bottled water and prepare to be energized and pleasant.  I’ve worked in retail and there’s nothing worse than grouchy customers.  Don’t be a grouchy customer.

5. Question pricing, but make sure you’ve read the sign first.  Most signs explain the full terms of the bargains, so be aware.  There may be a limit quantities, styles, etc.  If you do have a question about how much you are paying for something, ask.  Just because the lines are long and everything’s crazy doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get the great deal you were promised!

Have questions or comments about event planning or anything Chicago?  Email Jessica at thechicagoeventplanner@gmail.com

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