Black Friday 101: Your Guide to Successful Shopping

English: DC USA, Target, Black Friday

English: DC USA, Target, Black Friday (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Black Friday is upon us. Do you have your game plan ready? Black Friday is a serious shopping day for Americans, but it is also one of the most hectic and chaotic times of the year. For a smooth and successful Black Friday shopping adventure this year, follow these easy tips:

1. Prepare Your Shopping Plan: Just about all of the Black Friday shopping ads are leaked and ready to view on the internet. Don’t feel guilty about looking at them – retailers most likely leak them on purpose to stir excitement in shoppers. Instead, use these store ads to see when the stores open and what you want to buy. Make a list with prices and if applicable, the hours the item will be on sale. For some items, they are only early bird price for a few hours in the morning. Also be sure to note which stores open at what time. For example, Walmart is opening at 10 pm on Thanksgiving, which means lines will start probably at 7 pm or earlier.

Once you know what you will be buying, make a priority list. If you are getting a hot item like an iPad or gaming system, you can expect that will take top priority since those sell out the quickest. Be prepared to stand in line for at least an hour or two before even entering the store.

2. Know the Store Layout: Many stores will put up a map of their store on their website. This is crucial to print out because it is very likely that big stores you’re your local Target and Walmart will look how they usually look. Instead, they will have separate lines for individual items and list where the big-ticket items are located in the store. For example, Walmart had several televisions on sale last year. Instead of overpopulating the electronics section, they scattered the different brands of TVs throughout the store. Therefore if you wanted the Visio you would have to find it in the women’s department.

3. Take a Partner: This is the craziest shopping day of the year. Don’t go alone. It is good to have a partner for several reasons. One, they are good company while waiting in the crazy lines. You can also use your partner to tag team between shopping and standing in line to cut down on time. Just please purchase your items together so that you do not offend the other customers with two separate purchases (people are especially grumpy after their holiday bird and more then happy to give you a different kind of bird if you get on their nerves).

4. Bring Walkie-Talkies: If you have them accessible, walkie-talkies are great to bring, even in the cell phone day and age. Many stores have horrible cell reception (or maybe it is just where I live). A walkie-talkie ensures better communication within the store. However, a phone will work too.

5. Bring Snacks and Refreshments: Don’t waste your time and money standing in line for food or coffee. Instead, bring them along. It is good to have water and a snack bar every few hours to keep your blood sugar even. An empty stomach can often times mean an empty mind, which is not good to have when handling stressful and competitive shopping.

6. Don’t Forget the Power of Price Matching: You can save a lot of hassle by price matching deals at a different store. For example, if Best Buy has the game you want for $35 but that was the only item you were going to buy there, save the trip and take the ad to Target or Walmart instead. They will most likely price match as long as they have the same game in stock. Please call ahead to your local stores to ensure that they will indeed price match on Black Friday.

7. Dress Appropriately: You will be standing outside for an hour or so in line, and it is cold. Bring a jacket, or better yet, bring a warm blanket. This way you can wrap it around you and then throw it in the cart once you get inside. Once you are inside the store, the 500 other bodies around you will heat you up quickly. Also, wear sneakers. They are comfortable, and they will not slide of your foot if you have to speed walk or get bumped.

Ok, troops, you are ready to go into battle. Remember to not over gorge on the turkey, and please also remember that while the deals may be great, no certain item or deal is more important than the safety and well-being of another human being. Remember that everyone else has feelings too, even if they are being obnoxious. Most importantly, feel bad for the poor cashiers who have to work in this craziness.