What was once a 24-hour bonanza of shopping deals now stretch into parts of November and December, so you don’t have to brave the crowds on the morning of Black Friday to get the best deals. Black Friday creep means stores now offer sales prior to Thanksgiving and continue discounting items on Cyber Monday and beyond.
Don’t assume that Black Friday offers the best prices on everything, because many retailers will continue discounting items well into December. If you’re willing to wait for a bargain, you might score a better deal that way.
Still, some people like the rush of searching for deals and loading up their shopping bags on Black Friday. If you decide to venture out on one of the biggest shopping days of the year, consider these tips to save your sanity (and hopefully some money too).
Do your homework. Read Black Friday circulars in advance so you’ll know what items retailers are offering at what prices. Sites like DealNews, The Black Friday and BFads.net already have Black Friday sales circulars posted online for many big online retailers and list new deals as they’re announced. Do some comparison shopping to ensure that it’s actually a good price, because not everything will be on sale and the “compare at” price isn’t always accurate. Make a list of items you plan to purchase as gifts and match those with the items on sale. Some retailers may have limited stock on sale items, so consider creating a plan B in case your first-choice item is unavailable.
Follow your favorite retailers. For retailers where you shop regularly, consider signing up for email offers and following them on social media so you’re up-to-date on their sales and special promotions. However, if you’re the type of consumer who can’t resist a bargain (even if it’s not something you really want or use), you might want to skip this step so you’re not tempted.
Stick to your list. Retailers use door-busters and other strategies to get you in the door and convince you to spend money on things you weren’t planning to buy. Even if it’s a great price, it may not be a great buy if you don’t have a specific need or recipient in mind. Stay strong and stick to the items on your list to avoid buyer’s remorse!
Skip the extended warranty. If you’re buying electronics or household appliances, the retailer will likely offer you an extended warranty. Don’t take the bait. “Most aren’t worth the money as the items don’t break during their warranty period and if they do, the repair cost isn’t much more than the warranty which often have loopholes,” writes Laura Daily. Plus, many credit cards offer one-year extensions on the manufacturer’s warranty, so depending on what card you use you may already be covered.
Ask for a price match. Certain retailers like Target, Best Buy and Walmart will match prices with competitors. Bring the sales flyer or show the price on your smartphone to customer service to verify that the item qualifies for price matching.
Look for price drops. If you buy something and the retailer drops the price soon afterwards, some credit cards will refund you the difference as part of their price protection policy, so keep your receipts just in case. If you’re shopping online, services like Earny and Paribus will comb through your email receipts and request credit card refunds automatically for certain credit card issuers in the event of a price drop. You can create a separate account just for online shopping receipts if the idea of granting access to your email creeps you out.
Arm yourself with these apps
A host of apps can help shoppers score the best deals on Black Friday and at other times of the year.
- Retale lets you track specific retailers in your local geographic area and has a tab where users can preview Black Friday circulars.
- RetailMeNot has a mobile app where users can pull up in-store mobile coupons on their phone or purchase discounted gift cards. You can also use the website to find discount codes for items you’re buying online.
- The Brad’s Deals app lets you search your favorite stores for deals and coupons and save coupons for later.
- The DealNews app offers up-to-the-minute information on online and in-store deals, including Black Friday circulars you can access on your phone.
- Benefit Mobile lets you buy discounted gift cards to use at major retailers like Target and Banana Republic and donate the difference to charity or apply it to life expenses such as your mortgage or car payment.
- Honey doesn’t have a mobile app, but its Chrome browser plugin will automatically apply promo codes when you shop online or alert you if another Amazon seller offers the same item for less.
Use caution shopping on mobile apps
Consumers have gotten savvier about not clicking on phishing emails, so experts caution that some scammers have moved onto fake shopping apps designed to steal your credit card information or install malware on your phone.
If you’re downloading a mobile shopping app, make sure you’re using the retailer’s official app and not a copycat app. You can follow the link directly from the retailer’s own website rather than searching in the app store. Also read reviews to ensure that it’s a legitimate app. If an app doesn’t have any reviews yet or the name seems fishy, it may not be the real deal.
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