Throw conventional shopping out the window, this is not a conventional shopping day. Perusing the aisles looking for the perfect gift for your grandma or picking up some toilet paper for home is not for a day like today. I've got the tricks and tips to get you through the day with a smile on your face.
WHY SHOP ON BLACK FRIDAY?
Retailers offer deals on merchandise that is not found any other time before Christmas.
You have the potential of getting a big chunk of your Christmas shopping done in one day!
It puts you in the Christmas Spirit.
WHAT TO EXPECT
In my experience, people are friendly and excited to be out even at 4AM, customers and workers alike! Avoiding WalMart may have played a big part in that. =) There is a sense of anticipation and people feed off other people so there is always an electrifying energy. For me there is a bit of an adrenaline rush getting my hands on a good deal. I've begun as early as 3AM and finished no later than 10AM. We are never in one place more than 30 minutes which leaves no time to become frustrated or wearisome. Getting stuck in a long line can be instantly maddening but if you follow my guide, getting stuck should not be an issue. An after-shopping breakfast is always in order, very satisfying.
THE FIVE RULES OF ENGAGEMENT
After years of perfecting the art of shopping on Black Friday, this is the list of non-negotiables for my Black Friday bff (my momma) and me.
Early bird gets the worm.
You must be like those crazies who wait outside your house like creeper stalkers waiting for you to open your garage sale. Be in line before the store opens. No if, ands or buts about it.
The reason you always need to be in line is because good deals go quickly, I'm talking 5-15 minutes after the store opens. If you saunter in 5 minutes after the store opens, you have a million people ahead of you that are looking for the same things you're looking for and they will get there first.
To understand the importance of waiting in line is to understand the ebb and flow of the Black Friday pattern. People pour in, grab their items and get in line. Everything is building as the clock tick tocks. The store aisles get full making it hard to maneuver and the checkout line gets longer and longer and longer. If you get in and out, you can avoid this rapid build up. And trust me when I say this build up starts as soon as the doors fly open. Which leads us to rule #2.
RULE # 2
Be the first to checkout.
It all comes down to this rule. You follow all the other rules so that you can stick to this one.
Have you ever seen that show Supermarket Sweep? That is you, racing through the aisles, grabbing your items and then running to the checkout line. The checkout line begins to grow the moment the store opens. The more time you spend shopping, the more time the checkout line has to develop. And it can get to mind-blowing lengths... Best Buy in 2004 the line was wrapped in a giant coil throughout the store, Target in 2008 THREE HOURS!!
Generally speaking, you should be at the checkout line within 5-10 minutes of entering the store. Some stores will require you to get in line immediately while a friend (if you bring one) does all the shopping. Do not underestimate the power of the dark side, AKA the checkout line.
Shop the ads.
You did not climb out of bed in the hour God is even sleeping to buy small ticket items. You are standing in line, outside in the freezing cold with Thanksgiving turkey still on your breath for one thing and one thing only, doorbusters.
What's a doorbuster you ask? The only way you're going to know what a doorbuster is, is by studying the ads the day before. They are usually on the front cover of the ad and marked as a "doorbuster". A doorbuster is not always in the form of a 60" television either. A $10 waffle iron can be more sought after than the high-price ticket items. It's called a doorbuster for a reason... it's an excellent deal.
Stores will be sneaky and throw, what looks to be, amazing deals in the middle of aisles or on end-caps. Don't let these ploys distract you from the real job at hand... locating and obtaining the doorbuster. I've seen people get distracted by the everyday stuff like bags of chocolates and rolls of wrapping paper. Leave those items to the amateurs. Which leads us to rule #4.
Keep your list to 2 or 3 items PER STORE and stick to the list. (The list will be covered in next week's Black Friday post called "Preparedness 101")
Scenario without rule #3: Imagine making your way to the toy department to buy the cheapest remote control car you've ever seen in your life. On the way you see a huge table filled with the most amazing sweaters you've ever seen in your life. You start thinking "Oh, I could buy one for mom, auntie and the beastie!" Right? WRONG! You end up standing at that table for another 10 minutes picking out sizes and colors all the while, every ridiculously cheap remote control car is being picked up by other people. By the time you make it back to toys the cars are gone. To make matters worse, you start looking for a comparable remote control car. When none is found, you head to the checkout lanes only to find that you've now been in the store for 45 minutes and the line to checkout is wrapped around the store. You either get in line and kiss the rest of the morning goodbye or you drop the 3 sweaters you put so much time and effort into choosing down and leave the store empty handed.
Moral to this story? STICK TO THE LIST!
Impulsive buys are Black Friday suicide. Retailers design the store for you to impulsively buy but you fight through that soldier! If you must be compulsive, do it while walking. Anything that requires you to stop and choose is bad, bad.
And the reason you keep your list to 2 or 3 items per store is because frankly you do not have the time to shop for more than that (see rule #2). You would also be breaking rule #5.
RULE # 5
Do NOT use a shopping cart!
Do NOT, I repeat, do NOT get a shopping cart. If you do your homework right, you shouldn't need one. The problem with shopping carts is a.) you have to stop and get one, b.) they do not work in large crowds and c.) they sometimes cannot go where a human can go (like the congested electronics department at WalMart). If you are buying more than two items (which you should seriously consider revising your list, IMHO) than get a hand basket (shudders) or bring your own shopping bag.
Tune in next Friday for "Preparedness 101". I'll give you a step-by-step guide in organizing and scheduling your Black Friday shopping day!