Black Friday and Cyber Monday are just around the corner. Like most eager shoppers, you most likely have your eyes set on scoring the best deals—and getting your hands on them before other shoppers do. Whether you are making your purchases in person or online (or both), here are a few tips and tricks to follow before getting started.
1. Get organized and set a budget
It is important to be mindful of what you can and can’t afford while Black Friday shopping. To avoid impulse shopping, you might want to create a budget. Determine the maximum amount of money you are willing to spend on each gift recipient and make a list of the items you want to buy. Do your best to stick to these lists and avoid making unnecessary purchases. Being surrounded by amazing deals can be tempting, but not every sale item is a must-have.
Setting a budget isn’t always necessary, but it is a great way to make sure you don’t overspend and start 2023 playing catch up.
2. Do your research and prepare
One of the best ways to get the best Black Friday deals is by comparing different retailer prices. Let’s say you are looking for a brand new flat-screen TV and you already have a specific brand and size in mind. Compare different prices and aim for the lowest one. You don’t have to jump from website to website because there are various price comparison tools available such as Google Shopping, PriceGrabber, Shopping.com, and Shopzilla. You should also be on the lookout for online ads, emails and social media posts from your favorite brands promoting special offers.
3. Shop early
There is always a chance newer, in-demand products will sell out on Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Therefore, it is a good idea to see what early discounts you can find. Many stores launch in-store and online Black Friday sales days, weeks or even a month in advance. Target, for example, already started special sales this year and is releasing a new selection of deals every week until November 20. Get your hands on a Black Friday sales calendar for a list of retailers offering early deals.
You can get a head start by downloading apps from the stores offering the best deals. A little secret: many stores give advance notice of sales to those who have downloaded their app. Sometimes, you can even score exclusive deals when you purchase through the app itself.
4. Look into alternative brands
Since some products sell out more quickly than others, it is good to have a backup plan. If the item(s) you are looking for can’t wait until after Black Friday or Cyber Monday, consider buying them from alternative brands. This will provide a wider variety of options to choose from and it could even save you money. If you find an alternative brand product that has the same qualities as your original first choice, it might be worth swapping.
5. Consider your payment options
How will you be paying for your purchases? If you have a credit card, Black Friday is an excellent chance to earn rewards or cash back from most retailers. However, you should also be cautious and avoid spending more than you can pay off in full. Credit card debt is one of the last things you want going into the holiday season.
Some stores offer buy now, pay later services such as Klarna, PayPal or Afterpay. These tools are useful if you can stay on track with monthly payments. If you see your “pay later” debt growing into “figure out how to pay later,” it is time to put down the credit card or cut how much you are spending on each person. Remember, it is the thought that counts.
6. Avoid paying high shipping costs
If you are shopping online, you may come across exciting deals with low prices. But when you get to check out, the shipping costs send the price through the roof. To avoid high shipping fees, try shopping through bigger retailers that offer free shipping and returns, such as Amazon, Walmart, or Target.
7. Read the fine print
It is important to familiarize yourself with store policies and return fees before making your purchases. Some deeply discounted items may be marked “final sale,” meaning stores generally won’t accept returns for it. You should also check to see if any exclusions apply.
8. Know which retailer tricks to avoid
As shoppers look to get the best bargain on their purchases, retailers are often looking for the best ways to capitalize on this enthusiasm. Here are a few of the most common tricks to avoid:
Promoting false savings
Some retailers might raise prices on popular items during the weeks leading up to Black Friday, just to lower them when their special offers begin. Ultimately, shoppers end up saving much less or sometimes even nothing.
Advertising older or lower quality items
Black Friday gives retailers an opportunity to clear out older or less-popular products to make way for newer ones. Many shoppers try to complete their purchases as quickly as possible, but it is important to double-check the version or model to make sure it is the latest one.
Using bait-and switch-tactics
Bait-and-switch is a sales tactic in which retailers attempt to lure potential buyers in by offering limited quantities of a product at a shockingly low price. Once the product sells out, the retailer will offer a more expensive model so they can make a larger profit.
This is a common in-store tactic used to tempt buyers with additional impulse purchases. For example, they might place big-ticket items far away from the front door in hopes shoppers will purchase other items of interest while making their way to the back. Another example is placing items people might impulsively buy at check-out lines. With the Black Friday lines being rather long, buyers have plenty of time to browse and possibly make smaller, unnecessary purchases.
Shop and save
Scoring the best deals often consists of careful planning and knowing the tricks retailers might throw at you. While prices have been on the rise due to inflation, you can still count on most retailers offering good deals on popular items such as electronics, home appliances, toys, clothing, and accessories. Happy shopping!