Whether you’re a Black Friday enthusiast or hater, there are ample ways to cash in on super holiday savings throughout the season. So follow these tips for deep discounts on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and beyond.
Subscribe to Store Email Lists
Decide on which stores you want to shop at least a couple of weeks in advance. Then visit each store’s website, and subscribe to their email list. Early signup will ensure you receive all promotional emails for the season’s big Black Friday and Cyber Monday events as well as ongoing savings right on through Christmas Eve.
Buy Discounted Gift Cards
Visit Raise.com, and order discounted gift cards for the stores you know you’ll purchase from. You can use these cards to buy sale and special-buy items for added savings. The caveat, make sure the gift cards are for stores you’ll definitely shop at, so you don’t blow your savings. Discounted gift cards also make great gifts.
Begin Collecting Black Friday and Cyber Monday Deals
That show up in your newspaper, mailbox, and email. Also, visit your favorite stores online a few days in advance to see what kind of deals they’ll offer. Print any coupons you find. Then store them together in a safe place.
Organize for the Big Day
Once you’ve collected all the deals, sort through, and match them up to your holiday shopping list. Compare deals, and determine when the sales or doorbusters begin and if there’ll be limited quantities. Then strategize. If you can’t stand in line for hours for a limited quantity doorbuster, skip it, and focus on other deals that are easier to fetch.
Prepare a ‘Second-Best’ List
You can’t be everywhere at once, and you’re sure to miss a deal or two. So prepare for that possibility and know where to go and what to look for as an alternative.
Watch for Early Bird Freebies
Many stores offer free gifts to the first 25 or 100 people in their store. It’s true, there are some pretty nice prizes to be had. But many will require you to arrive well before the crack of dawn and spend hours waiting in line. Before you succumb to these lures, consider whether it’s worth the risk of losing out on savings elsewhere.
Black Friday Isn’t Always the Best Day for Hot Bargains
So do your research. Stores tout their Black Friday deals to get consumers into a buying frenzy early in the season. Some even offer their super deals on Thanksgiving evening and start to reduce prices on Wednesday. Keep in mind, all those Black Friday deals can also often be found online on Cyber Monday. In fact, many hot deals, and some better deals stretch well into December.
Shop Late in the Day
If you’re like many, you wouldn’t even consider shopping on Black Friday simply because of the chaos. But on Black Friday, the vast majority of shoppers start at the crack of dawn or earlier. By 5 p.m., early birds are exhausted, and malls and stores are dead quiet. So Black Friday evening is a great time to get in some peaceful, early shopping with plenty of great deals still going on.
This is another option if you don’t want to participate in the madhouse. Many stores offer the same deals online as they do in their stores. In fact, many online stores don’t even have storefronts. Keep in mind, supplies are often limited, even online. So by the time you reach checkout, an item in your basket might be sold out. If you’re shopping for multiple items from a store, do multiple checkouts, so the items in your basket don’t disappear while you shop.
MORE HOLIDAY SHOPPING TIPS
Arrange Your Finances in Advance
If you intend to pay by credit card, plan well in advance, so the credit is available to you. Use your credit cards that offer cash back or reward points to increase your savings. If paying with a debit card, check your balance before you head out to avoid an unwelcome surprise. Also, avoid carrying cash in chaotic crowds because of the increased risk of pickpockets and purse-snatchers.
Leave the Kids at Home
The chaos of the holiday shopping season, especially Black Friday, poses risks to children. Although the chance is slim, there’s the potential risk of trampling by crazed crowds on Black Friday. Your child could also get lost among the mob. Besides, shopping for long hours is stressful and exhausting for kids. Not to mention, it’ll increase your own stress level and deplete your energy.
On Black Friday, carry shopping bags or totes instead unless you plan to buy heavy items. Carts will slow you down through crowds that are unwilling to budge for you.
Hold Off on Toy Purchases
Black Friday doesn’t offer the best deals on toys. The first week of December usually provides much more significant savings on these items.
Use Social Media for Extra Savings
Many retailers offer exclusive coupons and discounts to people who ‘like’ them on Facebook or other social media. Check the social media accounts of the stores you plan to shop at.
Check on Return Policies
Most major retailers have liberal return policies. But not all. So do your homework before you make purchases. Also, ask for gift receipts to make exchanges and returns easy for your gift recipients.
Avoid Impulse Buying
Many shoppers’ savings go right down the drain because they grab unnecessary ‘great buys’ at the spur of the moment. So prepare yourself mentally for the temptation before you head out.
Get Extra Savings with Instant Store Credit
Most stores offer 10 to 25% savings by opening a store credit card at checkout. If you pay your charges off immediately and don’t use it for unnecessary purchases, it’s well worth the savings. Otherwise, the long-term cost of interest will exceed the savings you gained.
Make Sure a Sale is Really a Sale
Some stores mark up merchandise before they reduce it to make it look like a great bargain. Furniture stores, in particular, are known for this tactic. But many other stores do it as well on select merchandise. So do your homework.
Forego Extended Warranties
With a few exceptions, extended warranties are a waste of money. Most electronics already come with a limited manufacturer’s warranty. Defects usually show up within the scope of the manufacturer’s warranty. Accidental damage that might be covered under a store’s extended warranty tends to occur rarely. Cell phones or small personal electronics people carry with them that are likely to get dropped, lost, or run through the washing machine are the exception.
Kimberly Blaker is a freelance writer. She also owns an online bookshop, Sage Rare & Collectible Books, specializing in out-of-print, scarce, signed, and first editions; fine bindings; ephemera and more at sagerarebooks.com.