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 November 20, 2015  Posted by  Black Friday, Features, Shopping
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Amazingly enough, Black Friday is a couple of weeks away and the ads have already begun circulating. The recent trend of stores opening on Thanksgiving evening instead of waiting until the wee hours of Black Friday morning is expected to continue as well. According to CNN Money, spending was up nearly 24% on Thanksgiving, and slipped about 7% on Black Friday in 2014, according to estimates. The two days combined resulted in $12.29 billion in sales. In other words, retailers have a huge incentive to keep trying to attract Black Friday shoppers.

The question for shoppers is are Black Friday sales all they are hyped up to be, and are those savings worth potentially missing out on family time, sleep, or sanity?

The answer is that depends. If you’re someone who truly enjoys the rush of Black Friday shopping, then sure. Personally, my sister and I have made it a tradition to hit up a few stores after midnight just because we truly enjoy it as a bonding experience together, and the deals have been significant enough for us to keep doing it. Then again, we’re not the hard core shoppers who stand in lines that wrap around the parking lot to score a hot pair of sneakers or some hyped up video game system.

That being said, if you decide that this is your year to venture out, here’s what you should know about Black Friday shopping.

Don’t assume all items are on sale. Black Friday is the king of loss-leader strategy. Stores will get you in the door by offering dirt-cheap flat screen TVs, for instance (which will most likely be gone before you get there). The hope is that while you’re there, you’ll pick up other items around the store. This is where you really need to know your prices, and have a gameplan going in so that you’re not enticed by big neon sales stickers that really aren’t sales at all.

As part of your research, gather up the circulars in advance, map out your shopping route and prepare a list of possible gifts. Be sure to comparison shop using apps like the Black Friday App, check prices online and keep watch for coupons that are only good on Black Friday to maximize the savings. Lastly, bring the ads with you, just in case all of that turkey and stuffing clogs up your memory, or a retailer tries changing prices on you.

If you’d rather tackle Thanksgiving leftovers than shop, don’t worry. I scored some of my best deals outlet shopping on the Sunday after Thanksgiving last year. I arrived when the stores opened, and they were practically empty. I made it a point to ask the clerks if I was getting the “Black Friday” price and I’d say in at least 75% of the cases, I was, or it was close enough that the difference didn’t matter all that much. Along those lines, keep watch for pre-Black Friday sales in early November, too, since more stores are trying to start earlier to stay ahead of the competition.

Shop Black Friday from your couch. Many stores offer the same discounts online as they do in-store if you’re willing to set your alarm and log on before the sun comes up. I did this with Kohl’s a couple of years back and scored a super price on a KitchenAid Mixer for my mother-in-law. The best part? I was in my pajamas when I did it, and it was delivered to my doorstep (for free) so I didn’t have to lug it around a super crowded store or parking lot. One caveat – lots of other cyber shoppers will be looking to do this, too, so don’t be surprised if sites crash, or items are listed as sold out as it gets later.

There’s still a month of shopping left after Black Friday, which means… Retailers will still be looking for ways to get you to spend more. In other words, the “last-minute” and “doorbuster” deals are hardly over once the calendar flips to December. In many cases, they’re just starting. Also, don’t forget about cyber Monday and free shipping days if you prefer the online route.

The point is this: If you hate the idea of massive crowds and late-night parking lot madness, then Black Friday deals probably aren’t worth the hassle for you. If you enjoy a few hours of shopping after your Thanksgiving festivities wind down, then go for it. Just know that whatever you decide, smart shopping strategies will always pay off, and there will be more sales to come.

Herr are five types of items you are likely to find for lower prices at other times:

  • Keep in mind that while some of the toy ads look tempting, prices will get better the closer you get to the holidays. If you don’t need toys as gifts, prices are even better in January.
  • For brand name TVs, your best deal will probably show up late in December or January, not on Thanksgiving or Black Friday. (Two years ago, I found a TV/DVD combo in December for $50 less than the price offered on Black Friday.
  • Gourmet food/ wine packages are also better priced in December, as are small electronics and home appliances.
  • Best deals on winter clothing come after the holidays.
  • Linens and bedding are best purchased during January white sales.

 Photo: Canadapanda/Shutterstock.com

Dawn Papandrea

Dawn Papandrea is a freelance writer specializing in personal finance, parenting, and women's lifestyle topics. She's been a journalist for nearly 15 years, doing everything from editing to writing to blogging to social media management. Her work has appeared in WomansDay.com, Family Circle, CreditCards.com, Bankrate.com, Parents, iVillage.com, The Huffington Post, and other national publications. She lives in Staten Island, NY with her husband and two sons. You can read her personal blog at www.dawnpapandrea.com/blog, or follow her on Twitter: @dawnpapandrea.

  3 Responses to “How to skip Black Friday madness and still get the deals”

  1. Dawn – shopping throughout the months between November and December and still getting deals is so true. I didn’t realize how much so until last year, when I actually tracked the prices of items I wanted to buy, and realized they fluctuated all month long. You definitely don’t have to buy everything all at once, as much as the commercials would like to convince you otherwise :)

  2. Such the way to go…online! I definitely don’t understand the standing in line effect in Chicago with ridiculously cold temps. Family & left overs for me too!

  3. I’ve never been a huge fan of the Black Friday rush, but I have gone a few days later and I definitely agree that the sales are really happening all throughout the season.

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