If you’re like most Black Friday shoppers, odds are you plan to visit more than one store in the course of the much-anticipated holiday sale extravaganza. As easy as a day full of store hopping may sound, snagging great deals from your favorite retailers is actually all about strategy. Before you head out on your bargain-hunting excursion, you’ll need a plan of attack.
Here are the ABC’s (and D’s and E’s!) of creating your very own Black Friday shopping schedule:
Arrival Time Is Key
The crucial piece of your shopping schedule is timing. You’ll need to keep track of when specific stores open, how long they’ll be open and if they have any time-limited deals.
Take this scenario: A retailer may open its doors at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, but the item you really want may not reach its lowest price until 7 a.m. on Black Friday. Add to this the fact that the offer will last only until noon. Plus, your second favorite store unleashes its biggest savings at the exact same time. Suddenly saving money turns into a headache.
How do you keep track of it all? Start by making a list of the times when your top stores open. Also note when the product you can’t live without goes on sale. All of this information will be available in Black Friday ads, which will surface online anytime from now until late November.
We already know that Kmart is expected to open at 8 a.m. on Thanksgiving, and Best Buy is anticipated to begin its deals at 6 p.m. the same day, but most store hours for this year’s sales have yet to be released. For an idea of what to expect, check out the 2013 opening times for all of the major retailers. Once official times are available, make your list.
After you have the times nailed down, start thinking about these next few considerations:
Bagging the ’Busters
They’re every store’s main attraction: doorbusters. Doorbusters – also called early-bird specials – are the handful of products with huge price cuts that stores offer at opening time. Not only are they usually the most advertised products, but they’re also usually the best deals a store has to offer on Black Friday. These items are typically available for only a limited time and in limited quantities.
If it’s a doorbuster deal you have your heart set on, you’ll need to do some special planning. Check if the store has a first-come, first-serve policy for doorbusters. If so, you’ll need to get in line early to make sure you have a shot. Push a store like this to the top of your must-visit schedule.
Some stores, such as Walmart, have guaranteed doorbusters. As long as you get to the store by a certain time, you will be assured the product at the doorbuster price. These types of offers are more about arriving at the right time than necessarily being the first one in the door.
Calculate the Competition
How popular is the product you’re hoping to buy? You likely aren’t the only one who wants that high-tech video game console or the super discounted winter boots. If the deal you’ve set your sights on is highly publicized, or the item you want to purchase is in high demand, you’ll probably want to think about camping out to secure your spot in line.
Beyond the product, consider the actual store you’re going to be patronizing as well. As footage from local news outlets will attest to, Black Friday fanatics often spend days in line hoping to guarantee their chance at the best deals.
Stores famous (or infamous) for their Black Friday events – such as Walmart – will definitely be much busier than lesser-known retailers. If Walmart or other stores like it are on your list, your best bet would be to wait in line, get what you want and then move on to your next highest priority.
Divide and Conquer
You may decide that it’s just not possible for you to be everywhere you need to be at once. If this is the case, try enacting a divide-and-conquer strategy. Mobilize your backups – your family and friends – and decide ahead of time who will go to what store.
While your sister is getting an awesome deal on the tablet you’ve been wanting from Best Buy, you can be in line for the LCD TV doorbuster from Walmart.
You can even bring multiple people with you into the same store. A benefit of this is the ability to buy several of the same items. This is especially advantageous if there is a product limit per customer.
Evaluate the Evidence
Now that you know what to look for, you’ll want to be sure to evaluate all of these factors when you sit down to create your plan of attack. Knowing how to shop smart can help give you an advantage over your millions of fellow shoppers (or competitors).
As Black Friday approaches, it’s time to review the ABC(DE) of shopping schedule planning!