By: Kiersten Newnam
The day that marks the beginning of Christmas shopping, better known as Black Friday, is rapidly approaching. Shoppers rush to outlets and malls during the wee hours of the morning to get first dibs on the best sales. Over the years, the ridiculous hours of Black Friday have crept from stores originally opening Friday at 5 a.m. to now some stores opening their doors at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving day. This has caused outrage with some department store workers and shoppers. While shopping might seem like a fun activity to do on any other day, there is a history of violence between shoppers on Black Friday. For those who want to get the best deals without succumbing to barbaric shopping behavior, take a look at these tips to keep you safe and enhance your shopping experience.
Use the Buddy System
Never go Black Friday shopping alone. Shopping solo makes you an easy target for pickpocketing and stalking. Besides, going with a friend or a group of friends gives you the advantage on the battlefield; they can corner a sale and prevent others from seeing it or even redirect other shoppers by flocking specific racks. And of course it is always more fun to shop with a friend.
Make a List
Have a list of specific items, what stores to go to in what order and a list of substitutions or sacrifices on items that you would be willing to make. This will help prevent any type of disappointment because items tend to sell-out quickly. So, be prepared to decide on some other options ahead of time.
Assign a Designated Driver
Find someone who is not participating in the shopping extravaganza who can provide transportation. This eliminates the hassle of finding a parking spot and will eliminate hazardous driving decisions that shoppers make while trying to get into the stores first.
Never Leave Items Unattended
Leaving a shopping cart or basket momentarily on any other day wouldn’t be that big of a deal, but on Black Friday the stakes are high. Don’t take the chance of leaving items unattended because sales make people do crazy things.
If You Have Kids, Find a Sitter
Black Friday is no place for children. Speed is an essential factor in successful shopping and children only slow the process down. Hire a sitter or leave them with a trusting family member so your shopping process is efficient and effective.
Make a Schedule
Plan out the order of store visits, breaks and even a breakfast/lunch period. This allows for rest and time to refuel. People wear themselves out with lack of sleep and failure to eat a proper breakfast to begin their journey. Making a schedule helps prevent crashing mid-shopping trip by balancing the shopping and resting.
Skip the Food Court
Why spend money on food when those dollars can go to acquiring even more savvy deals? Maximize your budget by packing your lunch or breakfast. Keep food in the car if you drive freshly tucked away in a cooler. Stop and eat between shops during the allotted eating time in the schedule.
Make a Budget
Plan your spending so that there are no surprises. Know how much you want or can spend at each store ahead of time. Price-checking items online can help calculate your total cost. Then, you should add a “miscellaneous budget” for items that are purchased on a whim. Also, if you plan on using coupons, organize them by item or store ahead of time so they are easy to find when checking out.
Bring Extra Bags
Having extra bags, especially large ones, can make life much easier. Instead of carrying ten bags, just put all the bags into one huge bag to free up your hands. Extra carriers can also help conceal high-priced items or brands that might attract looters.
Avoid Social Media
As tempting as it may be to post and brag about your new Michael Kors purse or the new laptop you just purchased, this can attract potential looters. Giving away your location by “checking in” lets people know where you are and what valuables you have up for offer. It could also give away awesome sales that some aren’t aware of and attract flocks of shoppers to compete with.
Wake Up Early, But Not Too Early
A majority of stores open their doors at 2 a.m., which is usually when the rush is. Play it safe and sleep until 4 or 5 a.m. By that time, the rush might have died down and people will be taking a break. They may even go home to get some sleep before coming back out to the stores later. Beginning your shopping at 5 a.m. gives you ample time and opportunity to get deals that others are missing out on from earlier. Some stores will bring out items they have back in storage after the first rush of shoppers have gone through, so do not worry about missing any deals.