This week, the majority of America will be taken up with planning for, shopping during, and recovering from Black Friday. My personal marathon will involve starting work at 9pm on Thanksgiving (Yes, that's right, N-I-N-E on Thanksgiving) and working till 5am Friday morning. So, with only my hour break to shop the "midnight madness" sales, I've got a couple of things that I (and I suggest you ) will be doing.
- Make a list. Don't get to the mall and walk around aimlessly. Know the three stores you absolutely want to shop at, and what you want from them. Most of the people visiting my store this past week were scoping out what product we had in, if anything they wanted had a limited quantity and asking about our discounts for Black Friday. If you target the stores you want specific items from you'll have a much better chance of actually getting them. Once you have your main stores out of the way, you can get some coffee and wander around- the pressure's off. Of course, once the pressure's off you'll probably still manage to make stupid purchases. I have three seasons of House M.D. with the wrapping STILL on them.
- Know the discounts and what you're prepared to spend. Missoni for Target was the gauge for how well we were going to do at this and most people failed. I personally spent about $200 on merchandise and only kept about $80. When you're under pressure, and there is a limited amount of time or product, most people buy whatever they can get their hands on. They spend WAY too much, only to have buyer's remorse and try to bring it back the next week. Which brings me to my next point...
- Know the return policy! Some stores won't give cash back. Some have a limited time (like two weeks) for you to return something. Other stores, like mine, will only do store exchange or store credit. If you impulse buy, and then they have a crappy return policy, it's your fault for being an idiot. Thankfully, most stores begin their holiday return policy on Black Friday- so you should have till after Christmas to return since theoretically you're buying gifts (although we all know you're only pretending to, while actually spending all your money on yourself) and your giftees will need the option of returning. But again, YOU are responsible for knowing the policy and throwing a hissy fit when you find out there's a problem with the return a week or two later doesn't help anyone.
- Decide if you should even bother going to the mall on Black Friday. Everyone knows Cyber Monday is when to get great deals on electronics and the best thing about it is you don't have to leave your house! But, the little known secret you don't hear about is that most of the stores start their sales on Tuesday or Wednesday of the holiday week. (My store's deals start Monday) If you wait till Thursday, you might get the early bird discount of 15% or 20% but you're actually only getting to choose from the leftover merchandise people have been picking through for the last two or three days. Unless you are getting a massive door-buster discount, it's probably better for you to hit up that store on Tuesday.
- Don't forget the little stores. Sure, everyone hits up the malls, but this is a tough economy and there are a lot of small-town stores and boutiques that need your business too. Sure, they're a little more expensive than Walmart, but you're getting great quality items (often hand-made and limited edition) that makes the gifts you're giving (or keeping for yourself, shhh) so unique. Ultimately, the money you put into your local stores will make the entire community better and more stable.
Happy shopping y'all!