Black Friday Game Plan

A Must Read Strategy Guide for Conquering Black Friday

By Chantelle Kadala

Black Friday is craziness. Everyone knows that. But some people love the crazy so if you are one of the over 150 million people who plan to hit the Black Friday sales-wars lets set some rules to success and/or survival.

THE MUST DO PART OF ANY PLAN

Make a list now. Not Thursday in between cooking and entertaining guest. Right now. Even if you don’t finish this article, make a list of the things you hope to shop for as it will be your main tool to being even marginally effective with Black Friday sales.

Create a gift list by person, including yourself, and leave space for adding notes as to the multiple places you can get it and their prices. Without a list, there is no plan and with no plan you risk an aimless wandering through Black Friday that puts the sale priced items you coveted in better prepared hands.

DO YOUR RESEARCH

Search! Search, I say! Search like you’ve never searched before! The internet is your best friend and your main tool to find the best deals, the hours, and the sneaky small print rules and tricks. Check your favorite stores websites directly but also check online sources like Amazon.com, Overstock.com, Ebay.com, and NoMoreRack.com for online deals.

Make notes of the store, item, price and any special stipulations (only 10 available, must be member, only two hours, etc). Don’t make this part too tedious or time-consuming. You have to acknowledge that you may not get everything on your list so if you have limited time to dedicate to research, prioritize a few major items, note the specifics and once you decide which sales you will be hitting just ensure you carry your full list with you to look for other items while you are there.

Be sure to search “Black Friday [your city]” and see what retailers have put online to advertise their local deals. Additionally, purchase the Sunday paper the five days before Thanksgiving as it WILL be bursting the even the thickest of rubber bands with advertisements from every store in your area.

Compare prices with great online shopping tools like Nextag.com, PriceWatch.com, PriceGrabber.com, Yahoo Shopping, Bizrate.com and Shopzilla.com. This will be time well spent and the problem may become too much information, too much goodies, and too many sales. Use the list to stay focused!

DATA ANALYTICS (aka find the best price at the best location)

You’ve made your list, you’ve filled the page(s) with all of your research and now you have prices, stores, sales rules and all the information a person could ever need about shopping at big box stores. Time to make some decisions. Don’t give yourself a headache. Just ask yourself these questions, make smart decisions and edit your list to show only the best deals at the best locations:

  1. Is there one or two stores that have a majority of my items at a great price? If so, start here and work your way home being sure to keep an eye out for other items on your list.
  2. Is there a better or even close deal online? Many websites offer the same deals, with free shipping to online customers. Don’t waste time physically shopping for something that can be delivered to your door.
  3. Do you hate the store with the best price? Or its customer service? Or its location? Or its maximum three registers open rule? Then DON’T, I repeat DON’T, shop there. You are quite literally shopping for misery. Picking anger and frustration off the shelf and standing in line to pay your hard-earned money for it. Saving $10 is not worth your piece of mine or the countless minutes of your life spent putting the deep blackness into Black Friday.
  4. What are the chances that this item will be gone by time you get to the store? If Store X has 50 PlayStation 4’s at $299 you either have to dedicate hours to waiting in line before the store opens or give up this dream. Obviously there is a “limited quantity” of all items unless you are in the warehouse that supplies the entire west coast but you should take small quantities like 10 and 25 that you’ll find in the small print as red flags that it’s just the hook to get you in the door and you’ll be hearing “we’re all out” soon after the doors are unlocked.

COUPONS, COUPONS, COUPONS (aka promo codes)

Either you are a coupon person or you are not. I’m not here to convince you but it’s just a fact that you will keep more money in your pocket if you use them. Check out RetailMeNot.com, CouponCabin.com and PromotionalCodes.com. Smart shopping year around is sure to include a search of “[store name] promo codes” before making a purchase to see what savings are available at the store you are buying from.

PLAN OF ATTACK

With list in hand WRITE DOWN your plan of attack. What time will you start your shopping? Which stores are you shopping at and in what order? Address? Hours? Sale items and prices with any special instructions? Treat it like a work day and plan your start time, your break time and your quitting time. With all the research and notes you have this plan can be fool-proof. At the end you should have to pieces of information that with good formatting can fit on one piece of paper: your shopping list(s) and your Black Friday Plan of Attack.

Try to have fun, don’t get arrested and remember that if you don’t get everything you want then there is always Cyber Monday and amazing sales starting the day after Christmas.

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