It’s the most wonderful time of the year for bargain shoppers. Black Friday sales are an opportunity to score big deals on big-ticket items for the holidays, whether you’re buying them for yourself or to give as gifts, but planning ahead is the key to success. Here are five tips for getting the best deals during the Black Friday shopping “season.”
1. Don’t plan to do all of your holiday shopping on Black Friday. While there will be great deals, not everything is cheapest on the day after Thanksgiving. According to a DealNews article, “10 Things Not to Buy on Black Friday,” toys are historically cheaper in December than they are on Black Friday.
2. Don’t wait for Black Friday. It isn’t just a “day” anymore — it’s an entire season. Last year, some major retailers, including Walmart, spread their Black Friday sales over the weekend, with some deep discounts on Friday, new discounts on Saturday and Sunday, and more discounts online for Cyber Monday. Old Navy and a few others opened Thanksgiving Day with sales and special dollars-off coupons.
This year, Amazon, Walmart, and ToysR Us have already rolled out pre-Black Friday sales, and more retailers are likely to follow.
Video: How to Get the Best Deals Online
3. Do your homework. Start now comparing prices and features on products you have on your Black Friday shopping list so you’ll recognize a good deal when you see it.
The features, specs and brand of an item can make all the difference in whether or not it’s a deal. This is especially true for electronics such as TVs, cameras, laptops and tablets, gaming systems and household items like small kitchen appliances, sewing machines, power tools, and vacuum cleaners. Research your options and make a list of must-have features and specs of each item on your holiday shopping wishlist.
You should also compare prices on accessories and peripherals. If you just grab batteries, controllers, HDMI cables, or other items being displayed next to your Black Friday purchase, you may spend all your savings. Instead, shop strategically for these items. You may be able to use a coupon to buy batteries, or score a great deal on a memory card at a discount club. This kind of thinking ahead can also help you decide whether a bundled package — like a video game console with games and controllers included — is a better deal.
4. Socialize with your favorite stores. Retailers have been using Facebook and other social media to offer fans exclusive discounts, so Like, Follow and Check In to get discounts you might not otherwise be privy to. Signing up for text notifications or downloading the stores’ mobile apps might also help you save some cash this year. Third-party mobile apps can help you comparison shop on the go, earn rewards, or find coupons. Red Laser and Shopkick are two to try.
All this homework will pay off in another way too. Price-matching is going to more prevalent during the holiday shopping season, with brick-and-mortar retailers like Target, ToysR Us, and (reportedly) Best Buy offering to price-match online deals. But policies are strict, so be prepared. Shipping charges may be factored in, many merchants may be excluded, and many stores will not match competitors’ Black Friday or “Deal of the Day” prices.
5. Avoid the hassle and shop online. While the stores will definitely have some deep discounts during the Black Friday shopping season, you don’t necessarily have to leave your house to score big bargains. One advantage of shopping online is that you can find coupon codes and rebates that will work in addition to retailer discounts. Save on shipping charges by using free shipping promotions or free ship-to-store options.
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