It’s perhaps the most iconic image of Black Friday: lines of shoppers bundled in jackets and sleeping in tents outside of big-box retail stores.
Black Friday veterans know the only way to guarantee yourself a shot at a massively discounted doorbuster is to be one of the first shoppers to set foot in any given store. And the only way to be the first person in the store is to be the first person in line. And the only way to be the first person in line is … well, you get the point.
If you’re planning on camping out for this season’s Black Friday deals, get ready to start strategizing.
The Lines Are Forming
Black Friday may still be a week away, but the time to start your campout is now. Actually, in some cases, if you’re thinking about lining up right now, you’re actually behind the game.
Video from WWLP-22News shows bargain hunters lining up at a Florida Best Buy location a full two weeks before Black Friday. Impressive as this may seem, two California women have them beat: These dedicated West Coast shoppers have been in line at a Best Buy store since Nov. 5, according to CNET. (In case you forgot, Black Friday is Nov. 28.)
As outrageous as these reports may appear, they’re actually the norm for Black Friday shopping. Campouts happened early last year as well, particularly in the case of electronics retailer Best Buy.
As a general rule, the better the deals, the bigger the lines. Major retailers attract major crowds on Black Friday. The main reason for this is that the season’s most sought-after products are often available only in limited quantities. Most big-box stores will have only a few of their time-limited doorbusters in stock per location. The rarity of such promotions makes them that much more valuable and coveted. Thus, shoppers know that in order to set themselves up for the best chance of taking one home, they need to be in line early.
If the store you’re considering shopping at is on the following list of the most popular Black Friday sales, you, too, will probably want to camp out – and the sooner the better. Here are the opening times for these discount-filled deal events. Remember, though, if you show up at these times, you may already be too late.
- Walmart – Opens at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving
- Best Buy – Opens at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving
- Target – Opens at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving
- Macy’s – Opens at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving
- Toys R Us – Opens at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving
While You’re in Line
If you do decide to camp out at any of these or other retailers, have you thought about what you’ll do while you’re in line? Here are some ideas:
- Stay warm – Depending on your geographic location, you’ll need to be bundled up for changes in weather. Ensure that you’re equipped with blankets, jackets and – if you’re truly a diehard Black Friday fanatic – a tent and air mattress.
- Stay busy – Sitting on the sidewalk outside of your favorite retailer can get boring after a few days, or even just a few hours. Keep yourself entertained with activities, such as board games or smartphone apps. You can also keep your mind active with crossword puzzles.
- Stay connected – Don’t disconnect from your social life while you’re securing a spot to snag your dream deal. Call and text friends, or even ask them to visit you and bring supplies. Also related to staying connected, be sure to regularly check your social media newsfeeds for any late Black Friday news, coupons or contests.
Shoppers on line image via Shutterstock