Black Friday for Beginners

What is Black Friday?

Perhaps the most popular shopping day of the year, the day after Thanksgiving (Friday) is named “Black Friday” because this is the day that most retailers go from being not profitable (red on earnings statements) to profitable (in the “black” on earnings statements.) Deal finders love these sales, and I have been going for a few years now. Generally speaking, I love Black Friday, but with the birth of my new son, it doesn’t seem practical to get up at 4:00 in the morning to find these great deals!

Here is the strategy I have used to be successful in getting every item on my wish list:

1. Get the ads – Either online or the day that they come out in the paper, grab all the ads from the papers and sit down with a pen and paper. Remember that rural areas don’t often get all the ads from the retailers, so if you are missing one from a store you want to shop, you can probably go online and get one from them at their website directly.

2. Ad by ad, circle the items that you want the most. Remember that many stores will be offering the exact same items on sale, so price compare. I use 3×5 cards to make a list for each store on each card with the items I want for that store. Group them by department if you wish for easier navigation in the store.

3. Make note of the times that the stores open on each note card. The strategy will be to go to the stores that open earliest first, and so on so that you can grab those best deals as they become available.

4. The day before the sale – Lay out your clothes, wallet, notecards, and a quick breakfast bar or other item to snack on before you go or on the drive. Remember that it may be very cold at 4a.m. where you live, so dress warmly. Avoid bulky coats if you can (dress in layers), as you will not have room in your cart to stash your coat, and it will get very, very hot waiting in those lines.

5. The day of the sale – Hit the road with your best co-shopper. This works best with a friend.

6. Hit the earliest store first. Try to get there at least 10 minutes before the store opens. You will possibly have to wait in line, but get in there. When you door opens, never push or shove other shoppers. In fact, if it is overwhelming for you, hang back a bit and let the most aggressive shoppers through first. I usually wait casually until the rush gets in, and if there is already a cart or two in the parking lot, grab them! There will be a mad dash for carts that will cause the biggest confusion. (Sometimes they run out of carts.)

7. Head for each item on your list. Most of the really good early sales (those listed for opening until about 11 a.m. only) will probably be out in the aisles for easy access. If you find an item on your list that is hard to get to (due to crowds or narrow aisles) have one of you wait by the carts and the other grab the item. This teamwork approach works great for “divide and conquering.”

8. When you are about done, try to combine all items into one cart and head for the check out line. One of you wait in line while the other roams the store for any missed deals. Check out and head for the next store on the list!

9. Don’t forget to get some breakfast, coffee and bathroom breaks as needed. Don’t let the experience stress you out! After all, you are getting some great deals.

10. And last but not least, DON’T FORGET GIFT RECEIPTS! These are very important to have if you are claiming any rebates.

If you get home and want to venture online, many stores will be having some or all of their sale items online, too! You may find that this approach works best for items where you only have one thing to get at a retailer and it is not offered exclusively during that “early bird” morning window.