Shop Around…

Shop Around…

Do you know how Black Friday came to be named Black Friday?

One popular explanation for the origin of “Black Friday” is that it is the day on which retailers finally began to show a profit for the year: in accounting terms, moving from being “in the red” to “in the black”, after operating at an overall loss from January through mid-November.

Another explanation is that the term was commonly used by major metropolitan police forces who had to deal with the mayhem and headaches of the extra pedestrian and vehicular traffic created by hordes of shoppers heading to downtown stores on the two days after Thanksgiving.

Black Friday.  For some, it’s game day.  For others, it’s a total nightmare.  I fall in the middle of those two extremes.  I love Black Friday shopping for the excitement, the deals to be had, the energy, and most of all, buying gifts for those I love. But you will not find me waiting in line at any of the big box stores, hours before the store opens, waiting for the latest and greatest electronic deal. I fall into the category of a “Black Friday social shopper.”  It is an element of the holiday season, and Black Friday shopping is, simply put, worth the experience (and the deals).  Whether you are a serious shopper, a social shopper or someone who does not like shopping, we have some tips that will help you survive and hopefully enjoy the experience that is Black Friday shopping.

It really comes down to the 3 Ps…Be Prepared, Be Patient and Be Polite.

Be Prepared:  You need to be prepared for the crowds, long lines, and overall chaos. Pack snacks:  A simple granola bar, protein bar or bag of almonds are all very easy snacks to throw in your purse and to eat while waiting in a check-out line. Wear sensible shoes. Know where the bathrooms are located!

Be Patient:  The lines are going to be long and the stores are going to be crowded. The parking lot is going to be full.  Take a deep breath and know that you will not get in and out of the mall as fast as you want to.

Be Polite:  We think this little point is one that is so often overlooked.  Small acts of kindness are simple gestures that can have a big impact.

If everyone remembers these simple tips, maybe it will be more enjoyable and less chaotic for everyone.

Here are additional tips for Black Friday and Small Business Saturday shopping:

1)  Electronics:  Tablets, TVs, and appliances are all big ticket items on Black Friday. On top of already discounted prices, many retailers will offer incentives to purchase at their store. For example, some retailers will have a bonus gift card to be used on a future purchase with the purchase of a tablet, phone, appliance, etc.

2) Ebates:  If you prefer to avoid the stores all together and shop online, go to and make your purchases through the site (it is free to create an account). Ebates will offer cash back on all purchases made through their site, as well as offering all the discounts and coupon codes. Ebates will pay you via PayPal or they will mail you a check.

3) Return Policy/Restocking Fee:  If you plan to purchase electronics or appliances, check the return policy. Many retailers will charge a 15% restocking fee on returned TVs, computers or appliances. Also, it is always a good idea to ask for a gift receipt. Usually with a gift receipt, the return period is extended (from 30 days to 60 days).

4) Small Business Saturday:  Don’t forget to shop your local, independent retailers on Small Business Saturday.  Most small businesses will also offer discounts. Small businesses are great for purchasing toys; jewelry and also giving the gift of exercise (think of your local workout centers).

5) Have a Game Plan.  Make a list of whom you are shopping for and set a budget for each person. Make a list of all the stores you want to hit and even in a certain order so you can take advantage of the early bird sales. Do not get sucked into stores where you normally don’t shop; chances are, you won’t buy anything and end up just wasting time.

6) Buy the Thanksgiving Day Paper.  This will contain all the circulars and Black Friday deals for all the big box stores.  Reviewing circulars will help you decide which stores to hit and which stores to skip, based upon your needs. Also review the fine print to identify which deals contain extremely limited quantities (TVs, laptops, etc).

7) Check your Email.  All your favorite retailers will communicate their Black Friday deals electronically. Retailers will indicate Black Friday deals in addition to any “early bird discounts” for all purchases made before a certain time (usually 10am or noon).

8) Take advantage of online sales.  Retailers may be closed for the holiday, but most will offer Black Friday discounts starting Thanksgiving Day as well as offering free shipping on purchases

9) Set Realistic Expectations. While the sales are great on Black Friday, the cyber Monday deals and sales leading up to Christmas are still excellent. Many online retailers will offer free shipping, so you can avoid the stores all together!

10) Shop Safe. Carry a bag: cross body bags are great to keeps arms free for carrying purchases, but they also keep your purse securely across your body and most of the time in front of you. Also, make sure to keep your bag zipped and closed to avoid theft. Finally, while it’s easier to keep your budget in check with cash, you are more protected using a credit card.

11) Don’t forget to reward yourself with a little something….you did it!

Do you have any other shopping tips that we may have missed? Please comment below so we can be sure to add it to our list!

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