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My Top 12 Black Friday Shopping Tips

11:28 AM MST
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I can’t believe Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are just around the corner! Crazy! If you are planning to brave the stores during Black Friday, here are my top 12 shopping tips. Also, stay tuned as I will be posting Black Friday deals as they become available!

My Top 12 Black Friday Shopping Tips

(1) Be prepared. Before you head out to the store, research the Black Friday ads (which I will be posting as the become available) and outline exactly what you would like to purchase. And to be extra prepared, you can even research the layout of your store, so you’ll know exactly where to head to grab the items on your list.

(2) Be ready to stand in line for quite a long time. Wear comfy shoes and appropriate outerwear and consider leaving the kiddos at home (if this is not possible, bring toys or other items to keep them entertained while shopping).

(3) Know your store’s hours (some stores are opening on Thanksgiving night while others are waiting until the wee hours of Friday morning). Again, I will be posting store-specific information in the coming days.

(4) Familiarize yourself with each store’s price matching and/or coupon policy. Keep in mind that many stores have created special price matching policies specific for Black Friday.

(5) Make a list! This will keep you focused and will definitely help to prevent you from being tempted to purchase additional items that are not on the list.

(6) Remember to ask yourself whether the great deal you see is actually a great deal for you. You may also want to research online prices versus in-store prices, as you can often snag better deals online even when you factor in shipping costs. Plus, think about the time and gas saved when shopping online! Love that!

(7) Keep those receipts! After the adrenaline rush is over, you may realize that you got caught up in the Black Friday craziness and purchased items that you really do not want. As long as you have the receipt, you should be able to return them and get a full refund.

(8) Go with your mom, sister, or a friend. Plan ahead and plan to split up so you can snag items for each other. It’s the only way I’ve figured out to help you be in two places at once! If you don’t want to go to separate stores, you can each start out on separate ends of the same store and meet in the middle after you’ve snatched up as many of the things on your (and each other’s) lists as you could along the way.

(9) Gas up the night before so you don’t waste precious sleep OR shopping time at the pump. Also, map out your route based on store opening times to minimize backtracking and missing out on doorbuster items you’re planning to purchase.

(10) Don’t give up! If the item you are looking for is not on the shelf or display, check the front of the store where other shoppers may have left items they weren’t sure about before checking out. Or, check with your cashier to see if someone happened to change their mind at the register and leave the item you were looking for there.

(11) Be friendly. You will be amazed at how people will help each other, even in the craziness, if they are approached with kindness.

(12 ) And my favorite tip of all… skip Black Friday and wait for Cyber Monday instead! There is nothing better than snagging *HOT* deals from the comfort of your own home in your favorite PJ’s! :D

** And for all the current Black Friday deals, coupons and sales for 2013, click here or here.**

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  • amanda says:

    95% of the black friday deals are now available online Thanksgiving day/Black Friday. I always just stay home and shop online and get the same deals I wanted….without waiting in any lines! Plus I can use cashback sites and coupons!

    • Heather says:

      I figured this out last year, too!

    • Dawn says:

      I was going to post a question about that. I noticed that many of the same sales were available online but we had trouble getting on a few of them. I’m really considering it for this year. How was your experience?

      • amanda says:

        I’e never had any issues getting what I wanted….but you do have to be quick (just like you would in store :))

      • cindi says:

        The sales start online thanksgiving day! It was the absolute best way to shop. My favorite online retailers on thanksgiving are amazon, the disney store, & best buy! Shop as early as you can online.

    • Susie says:

      That’s what I was thinking. You can even score some online at Amazon that are not in the stores. Usually early Thanksgiving Day from the comfort of your home. Just don’t ponder it. Put it in your cart and checkout quickly on the best deals that you know you want because sometimes they go quick. And also, I noticed the few things that were on Walmart’s Black Friday ad that I wanted, but not bad enough to go stand in line for, were offered on their website a day or 2 later.

    • Anna says:

      about half of the items I want are in store deals only and will not be online. rather go and get them then chance thousands of people online trying to get the same item. Chances are a bit slimmer

    • Brittany says:

      Ditto this! The only place I’m considering going to is Lowes. They have some deals that you only get when walking in the door.

    • Sarah P. says:

      I noticed several of the doorbuster deals (that I want, of course) say in-store only. :(

    • Michele D. says:

      Does anyone know at what time the deals begin online on Thursday? If they start at Midnight Wed. night, I’ll stay up late but if not until the wee hours of the morning, I’ll set my alarm! Last year I was able to score a few great deals but some were already gone. I waited until after I put the turkey in the oven which turned out to be a big mistake.

  • Sue says:

    maybe you should be calling this post Thanksgiving shopping tips since most of the stores are opening on Thanksgiving.

  • Adrienne B. says:

    thanks for the tips. I’m all about #12!

  • Heather says:

    One tip that I find most helpful is to KEEP ALL RECEIPTS! I have often shopped during the holidays and thought I found a great deal and so I purchase the item when I do not necessarily need it.. so I later just return the item. I use a 6QT shoe container with a lid (purchased at Dollar General!) and the minute I get home.. I put any holiday receipts in the container. It has saved me LOADS of time searching for receipts. :)

  • Julie says:

    I agree I am all about the Cyber Monday shopping! My sister & I used to love to go shopping on Black Friday. We would leave all our kids (7 of them) with my Mom on Thanksgiving night so we could hit the stores early. We always had such a great time and usually an adventure or two (hitting a deer, running out of gas, super long lines, crazy shoppers..) but it was always fun!! Now that stores are opening on Thanksgiving so early we may as well name it Brown Thursday instead of Thanksgiving :( I am so sad for those who miss out on family time due to stores opening so early.

  • MARLENE says:

    amen to # 12 the only places i will be is @ cvs and walgreens doing my couponing .

  • Katelyn Bellingham says:

    AMEN! Nothing goes further than kindness and I have seen a big crowd turn on one rude/grabby/pushy person! I’ve always laughed my head off with strangers at 4 in the morning and enjoyed every second of Black Friday!!! This year will be amazing I am sure!

    • Tilla Ham says:

      I LOVE IT TOO!!! always have fun waiting in line or chatting it up

      • glo says:

        Amen I love it. I’ve camped out at a store and it was the best time. People saved your spot in line so you could go home a fix your Thanksgiving dinner and spend time with your family. I love that store. I done it three years in a row and the manager said if I’m there this year and not in the front of the line he would make sure I got what I wanted that was on sale. I can’t wait.

  • nat says:

    online shopping is all i need. i’ll stay at home and shop! if i can’t buy it online bf oh well.

  • Debbie says:

    Thanks Collin……you always know how to help me save so much time and money!!

  • Dawn says:

    #8 – My mom and I go together every year. At stores with really long lines, one of us stands in line while the other shops. Then, we switch. This also helps keep the surprise when we are buying for one another.

    • Valerie H says:

      My mom and I went together every year and then I moved to another state. We didn’t realize how much we would miss this tradition until I went out alone last year and she stayed home. :( This year I convinced her to brave the holiday travel and come see me so we can shop together! It’s a special time for us to hang out after all the hard work cooking dinner. :)

  • Elizabeth says:

    Also, if you know for sure you’ll be shopping at a certain store consider purchasing a gift card prior to Black Friday on a site that sells discounted cards to save even more!

    Does anyone know if Walmart will be matching Black Friday deals this year?

  • Deb says:

    Get gift receipts for everything, even things you don’t think will end up being given as gifts—you might change your mind and having a gift receipt makes things much easier.
    Also, bring snacks and water. Dress in layers.

  • Mari says:

    Hi Elizabeth :) , i was wondering where can i find discounted cards ?

    • Julie says: & are online places to get cards at a discount. If you have a Bi-Lo store you can earn gas rewards by purchasing gift cards there. If you have a Target gift card you get 5% off. I have a Lowes card that gives you 5% off as well but I have never bought a gift card using it so I don’t know if the discount applies there as well…anyone else know?

    • Laura says:

      Sometimes Kroger offers 4X the gas rewards points on GCs you buy through them.

      • gohogsgoinar says:

        Krogers also offers discounts off of the gift cards if you load the ecoupons on your shoppers card. I saved $5 off $25 Aeropostale not too long ago :)

  • Tilla Ham says:

    I purchase all of my gift cards at safeway or fred meyer. Fred Meyer works out to be a great deal. I purchase gas gift cards, restaurants, petsmart…then I earn double or even quadruple gas rewards when I go fill up at shell gas stations with my shell gift cards I usually have 1.00 off per gallon plus an extra 7 cents from shell for using a gift card. I also earn fred meyer rewards which I just got back 14 dollars yesterday and was able to get 3 gallons milk, 2 bags shredded cheese, loaf of bread, eggs for 22 cents after rewards certificate. So cheap gas, and free food…also they often have deals where if you spend 50 on a certain gift card you earn a 10 dollar catalina

  • marie says:

    Glad you posted #12 because Amen to that one. I would never, ever, ever be caught out on black Friday in a store.

  • Annie says: sells discounted gift cards.

  • Sara says:

    Totally agree with #10. Always look around for abandoned merchandise if you don’t see it on the shelf, especially if it’s an inexpensive item.

  • Heather says:

    Last year I snagged all of my last minute Christmas gifts (I start shopping in Aug) on Thanksgiving day via Amazon’s awesome lightning deals. They ended up being better than the advertised Black Friday deals. It was a life saver for me as I was recovering from knee surgery and I was able to lay in bed with my iPad and rack up the deals. Way better than getting out in the weather and crowds. Just make sure you set up the 1-click purchase feature and set up your card info ahead of time, otherwise you can miss out on deals while your inputting your info.

  • Dayna says:

    My mom and I have been Black Friday shopping for the past 13 years now and we are disappointed at the stores opening on Thursday. Part of the thrill was meticulously looking through the ads Thursday afternoon and planning out everything, then getting up around 3am Friday morning and standing in the lines outside (yes I realize I’m saying that I liked standing in line, but that has always been apart of it!). We went to Walmart at 10pm last year and thought that was too early. So now to try to recreate the old tradition we are still going to get up around 3 or 4, we probably just won’t be waiting in line now.

    Does anybody have any idea if JCP will be doing their buttons again? That was an awesome promotion!!!

  • Casey says:

    I’ll be on my couch in sweat pants and slippers watching football, shopping and eating leftovers! I love Black Friday haha!

  • Dayna says:

    We live in the middle of nowhere for the last 2 years so the only store we have that is a prominent black Friday store is walmart. My husband braved the midnight crowds the last 2 years at the local walmart (since its all we have EVERYONE shows up). I stay at home with the bambinos. He would text me pics of things and I would give him the okay. This way we can still shop “together” and we don’t miss out on any Amazon black-friday lightning deals because Im home already :)

  • Mari says:

    Thanks guys !! :)

  • Holly says:

    Crazy how big retail stores, like Macys, will be open 5pm Turkey day. In that case, celebrating Turkey Day should be done the day prior or the day after. I would hate to feel super stuffed after eating then having to wait in line to shop (or worse, get sick from the food then having to shop).

  • Kidsallgone says:

    Face time on iPhones and/or iPads are great to show items to each other while shopping different stores or if one is at home.

  • Doreen says:

    My husband and I used to go when our kids were little and one of us would stand in line while the other shopped because the lines were crazy long!

  • Sara says:

    PLEASE resist shopping in-store ON holidays. I love a deal, but I love being with my family more… and I imagine employees like their paychecks, but would like to be at home instead of stocking the shelves. Let’s help them by putting people before profits/deals by keeping our money in our wallets until the next day!

    • Tilla Ham says:

      I worked many holidays and loved it, we were busy, the day went by fast, and I got extra holiday pay which we desperately needed. not everyone hates it, and many get to request it off

      • Sara says:

        I’m not saying there aren’t a lot of people that feel similarly. I used to manage a mall store, and Black Friday was my favorite! But are there enough people willing to volunteer to adequately staff hundreds of stores ON holidays around the country with only them? I am highly doubtful.

        • Em says:

          I would much rather have something to do at work then just sit around. You sign up to work retail you should expect to work some holidays.

        • Really?? says:

          I’m an RN and holidays are like any other day of the year. Should we tell your chest pain to wait until tomorrow because we want to eat turkey with Grandma? No. You expect these things when you work in certain fields.

          • Sara says:

            There are some places that need to be open. Nursing homes, hospitals, gas stations… but that fact does not change anything about what I’m saying. I work a job that won’t allow me to be off. I’ve worked retail. I don’t think employees at Best Buy, Macy’s, Kohl’s or Kmart are working somewhere that provides a vital service that its employees ‘signed up’ to work no matter what for that reason. Just because you and I have to work does not mean others should.

      • ashley820 says:

        Amen to that! I work at a place that is open 24 HOURS (a group home taking care of mentally/physically challenged) not everyone gets off of Thanksgiving, some don’t have a choice but to work. Those who are working most likely voulteered to work! At my work, we put up a “Holiday Sign Up” sheet.

  • Dorothy says:

    Where’s the best places to go on Black Friday or Thursday?

  • Kris10 says:

    The one bad thing about Black Friday is that it seems like it takes ten years for lunch time! Lol when you get up so early you’re thinking..WHEN CAN WE EAT!? Well, I am anyways!

    • Dayna says:

      That’s why I go back home and go to bed afterwards!! Or eat a second breakfast around 9am haha!

    • gohogsgoinar says:

      I meet up with friends at Cracker Barrel or IHOP around 7ish to refuel, compare bargains, and get a game plan for the remainder of the day – sometimes it is just to go home and sleep lol

  • Dallas says:

    Does anyone know if Walmart will match Toy R Us black friday ads?

  • Mrs. Klaus says:

    I worked retail for many years and always enjoyed working the holiday season, but there is a difference between working “Black Friday” and working Thanksgiving day! Everyone should have the opportunity to spend the entire day with their loved ones and not have to rush off to work right after lunch/dinner!

    • deb says:

      Having worked retail for many years myself, you do realize that working those days are voluntary for most stores & they always have plenty of volunteers

  • Janelle says:

    Last year I brought a reusable shopping tote with me. I was able to put all of my finds in there instead of trying to carry them all or using a cart (navigating through all the carts is my least favorite part!). It was also helpful when I was waiting around at walmart for different sales to start.

    • Jen says:

      I have innocently done this before, but “bagging” unpaid for items can be considered shoplifting and I would not recommend it.

      • Terri says:

        Its not shoplifting in GA, but definitely be aware of your state laws. And I’m surprised how many people seem to believe holiday workers wanted those hours… I sure didn’t my recent 2years in retail! Of course that wasn’t the only hiring promise they broke. I wont shop on t-day, but if you do i’d be curious what your cashiers say if you ask…

      • Em says:

        It’s not shop lifting until you walk out of the door- in any state

        • Nicole says:

          I use an open 31 bag and its visible to the eye. That way I am also able to shop and still have both hands free. It has worked for me for 2 yrs. Toys R Us was like whoa now that is a great idea!!!

        • CC says:

          Actually, it can be retail theft even if you don’t walk out the door in some states, if not most. Transferring it or concealing it within the store if it’s for the purpose of not paying full retail price is retail theft and people have been convicted for it-i.e. hiding popular merchandise behind other merchandise in another area of the store to get it later when a sale starts. Its difficult to prove though, so you most often think of it as people walking out the door.

  • deb says:

    Cyber Monday is more my speed. Hot Coffee, PJ’s & Great Deals <3

  • Mary says:

    I do not and will not shop on Thanksgiving Day. However, after all the dishes are cleaned up on Thanksgiving night, my sister and I plan our shopping strategy for Friday. We do our Kohl’s shopping online early Friday morning, get a few more hours of sleep, then out the door to hit the stores! We always pack a cooler of Thanksgiving leftovers for lunch and snacks on the run. Nothing like a good turkey sandwich in the car on the way to the next store!

  • Rena says:

    Cyber Monday is more my style. I’ve never done Black Friday, just could not bring myself to fight through the crowds for any product.

  • lorettaharvey says:

    I do Gift Card Anyday at Kroger’s. Four times the fuel points for me and no crowds or standing in line. No Pj’s though – not if my hubby knows anyway. LOL

  • Anna says:

    Thanksgiving will be on saturday for my family. My mother works retail and my sis and i love shopping so grandpa will be watching our little ones while we have bonding time and we will gather as a family on saturday. Who cares what day you celebrate togetherness. They choose my shopping day which is no big deal

  • TandBmommy says:

    do Cyber Monday deals come out ahead of time?

  • Sarah P. says:

    Do you have any specific tips for getting the big ticket doorbuster deals? I’ve never had anything big (like TVs or game systems or laptops) that I was trying to get on BF for a crazy low-price before, but this year I am. So I’ve never done this before for anything hardcore. lol

  • Heather says:

    When I went to Target last year for BF-2012, they handed out ‘maps’ of where all the deals or items were that weren’t in the typical areas. That way you had a heads up on what was where before you went it. I don’t know if they do this at all the stores, but i know it was SUPER helpful for those of us who were only going in for one or 2 things. I was in and out in under 15 minutes.

  • Dorothy says:

    I wanted some things from Walmart’s Thanksgiving Sale. However, I am confused as to what time to start shopping online? How can I figure this out???

  • Laura says:

    Wondering if on Thanksgiving and Black Friday if free shipping is typically available online. The stores I’d be most interested in would be Toys ‘R Us and Kohl’s. Thanks! :)

  • Laura Loewen (@thpracticalmama) says:

    Wondering if free shipping is typically available on Thanksgiving or Black Friday. Specifically for Toys ‘R Us and Kohl’s. Also, does anyone know if you can access the complete movie title lists for stores that have DVD’s on a great sale (such as Target, Toys ‘R Us, etc.)?

  • Sally says:

    Anyone who shops at brick and mortar on friday is crazy! Sign up for ebates, and check for coupons to double your discount….

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