Black Friday is one of the most rewarding retail days of the holiday season – this day alone accounts for a hefty percentage of holiday sales, and the time from Black Friday to Christmas accounts for 30% of annual retail sales.
More than 99.8 million people shop on Black Friday every year, and in 2016 even more shoppers are expected to go out. If you’re planning on doing some Black Friday shopping this year, having a game plan is absolutely essential.
You can battle the crowds, find the best deals, and get your Christmas shopping started with these creative tips that will help you have a safe, rewarding Black Friday! Scroll down to the bottom of this post to see a chart of the Black Friday sales averages for the last few years.
10 Tips for a Safe, Rewarding Black Friday
A safe, rewarding Black Friday starts with an effective game plan. If you don’t go into the holiday with a concrete plan, you may end up spending more than you planned on, missing out on items that may have been on your list, or ending up empty-handed.
Tip 1: Start with a game plan.
A great Black Friday starts with a game plan. If you don’t do your homework ahead of time, you’ll be taking a shot in the dark when it comes to finding the items on your list. Even if you’re not looking for specific items, it helps to know which deals will be available at different stores so you can make a list of stores to shop that day. Looking for scanned Black Friday ads on websites like blackfriday.info, theblackfriday.com, gottadeal.com, and dealnews.com can be a great place to start. Look for deals you’re interested in, make note of where you can find them, and make sure to bring a print-out if the store requires it.
Tip 2: Compare prices ahead of time.
Every Black Friday shopper’s nightmare: Finding an amazing deal on something they just bought. You can make sure this doesn’t happen to you by comparing prices ahead of time. You don’t have to manually compare prices from different stores – there are tons of websites that do the comparison work for you. Check out websites like ShopAdvisor.com, PriceGrabber.com, PriceWatch.com, and Shopping.com to compare Black Friday prices and find the best deals. Use Pinterest? You can set up price alerts to notify you when items you’ve pinned go on sale (or increase in price).
Tip 3: Sign up for loyalty programs.
Black Friday is a great time for loyal customers. Most retail businesses send sales and promotions to members before making them available to the general population. If you’re part of a store’s loyalty program and earn rewards on what you buy, it can literally pay to go shopping on Black Friday! Loyalty programs and email lists often land you special offers like free shipping or additional discounts as well. For this method to be effective, you should start joining lists and becoming a member a week or two ahead of time to ensure you catch early deals in time.
Tip 4: BYOA – Bring Your Own Accessories
Most companies save their biggest Black Friday markdowns for their biggest and best-selling items, like televisions and video game systems. The required accessories that go along with these electronics might seem like a small fee in comparison to the big-ticket item – after all, what’s $30 for an HDMI cable when you just dropped $600 on a new television? But those little price hikes add up. That’s why it’s best to “Bring Your Own Accessories” when you plan to go Black Friday shopping. You can score amazing deals on accessories like HDMI cables and aux cords when you purchase them ahead of time online. Bring them to the store if you’re concerned about compatibility.
Tip 5: The biggest deals aren’t on the best products.
The biggest deals you’ll find on Black Friday might seem too good to be true, and usually, that’s because they are. The big discounts are not usually on brand-name items that are on your list. Instead of discounting LG televisions, most retailers will offer their steepest deals on brands like Emerson, Vizio, and Hisense. While these TVs might be of fine quality, they usually offer fewer specs and features than their name-brand counterparts. If a name brand electronic is what you’re seeking, you might not see the doorbuster prices you thought you would. In this case, it’s acceptable to haggle a bit with the store manager to get a lower price on a higher-quality item.
Tip 6: Know the store policies before you go.
Some store policies can be of major benefit to you as you shop on Black Friday – price-match and return policies are great examples. That’s why it’s important to know store policies before you go out to shop. Consumer Reports predicts that more stores than ever will offer price-matching for online and in-store deals to compete for business this year. That’s good news for you, because if you followed Tip 2, you’ve already been comparing prices and know where to find the best deal. Read the fine print on store policies – for example, some stores accept returns for 30 days, but charge a restocking fee for all returned items.
Tip 7: Arm yourself with the right apps.
Take some time to load up your smartphone with the right apps to help you manage a safe, rewarding Black Friday. Plug your phone in the night before heading out to ensure it’s got a full charge and test out each app you download to make sure it’s working properly. Download some comparison-shopping apps to aid you on Black Friday and help you score more deals than you would alone. Many comparison apps include barcode scanners so you can check other stores’ prices on specific items.
Tip 8: Take to social media.
Social media is the place where many retailers first reveal their exclusive Black Friday deals, discounts, and promotions. If you like a certain brand or store, make sure to follow them on social media before the rush of Black Friday. Keep an eye on their profile and look for exclusive deals that come through.
Tip 9: Don’t focus on Friday alone.
Black Friday is no longer one day of insane deals – many businesses have expanded their Black Friday discounts to the weeks surrounding it. Other trends, like Cyber Monday, have additionally lengthened the Black Friday deals and given shoppers additional ways to shop for deals. Cyber Monday, too, has expanded from a single day of online-only deals into a week-long online shopping event. From what we’ve seen in years past, many Cyber Monday deals rival Black Friday deals with the added benefit of being able to stay home!
Tip 10: Create a budget—and stick to it.
If you have a budget set for Black Friday, the chances of you spending too much are drastically reduced. If there are a ton of items on your list, creating a working budget will help you narrow your list down to the items with the biggest discounts so you can get most of what you need on a budget you can stomach. Avoid getting into the “shopping spree” mentality if you want to have a safe, rewarding Black Friday – go there on a mission with a list of items to get. Some shoppers use only cash on Black Friday to ensure they don’t accidentally go over budget.
Black Friday Weekend Shopping Statistics
|Year||Weekend In-Store Shoppers||Spent per Person||Total Spent|
|2015||102 million (vs 135.7 million forecast)||$299.60 each||N.A.|
|2014||133.7 million (vs 140.1 million forecast)||$380.95||$50.9 billion|
|2013||140.3 million||$407.23||$57.4 billion|
|2012||147 million||$423.00||$59.1 billion|
|2011||126 million||$398.00||$52.4 billion|