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You’ll know it’s the holiday season when you meet hundreds of Americans outside shopping malls and retail stores on the Friday after Thanksgiving. This particular Friday has an official term; “Black Friday.” Black Friday is, without a doubt, the most significant shopping holiday for Americans. It’s a day when retailers offer massive discounts and sales on most of their items. Black Friday falls somewhere in-between November 23rd and November 29th. This year’s Black Friday was on November 27th. For 2021, Black Friday will fall on November 26th. Most Americans get the day off, well, except those working in retail stores.
The history behind Black Friday is fascinating. The first people to coin this term were Police officers from Philadelphia during the 1950s. The Friday after Thanksgiving was a busy day because of the heavy human and car traffic caused by retail stores unveiling holiday sales and the Navvy soccer match hosted during the same weekend. As the years passed, police officers expressed how much they dreaded working on this day, referring to it as “Black Friday.” Later in the 60s, the term received a different connotation to mean profit because retailers shifted from using red ink for losses to blank ink to indicate gains. Currently, Black Friday is perhaps the most profitable day for retail stores and the economy in general.
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How Black Friday works offline and online
Most US retailers will offer both online and offline deals. Usually, online sales begin a few weeks before Black Friday week. In comparison, in-store sales start on Thanksgiving, running through the entire weekend. To shop online, you need to search for the item and order. However, if you intend to buy the items physically, it would be wise to check whether the goods are still in stock via the retailers’ site
How to make the most of Black Friday
While it is true that some holiday events require no prior preparation, Black Friday isn’t one of them. For example, take this year; who would have thought that their Wishlist would include a box of sanitizers and Lysol sprays? Or that in-store shopping wouldn’t be as chaotic as usual? Whether you are shopping physically or online, our Black Friday tips will ensure you get the most out of Black Friday come 2021.
Things to do months before Black Friday
Things to do months before Black Friday
Draw up a budget
According to this year’s survey by the National Retail Foundation, shoppers spent an average of about $312 each on Black Friday purchases, which is a considerable sum considering that the average American’s hourly income is about 12 USD. We know how tempting Black Friday deals can be. However, it’s essential to draw up a budget and stick to it. Your bank account will thank you later for showing self-restraint.
Research items pricing pre-Black Friday
In case you don’t know, some stores will disguise Black Friday Prices as deals and special discounts, which in real sense are not. So how can you tell if that coveted good is worth buying? It’s simple. Put a price alert on these items a few months before Black Friday. Then watch keenly to see if the price fluctuates over time. Some retailers increase the price just before the holiday season then immediately reduce the price on Black Friday to front these prices as deals.
Make use of social media
Usually, retailers build up their marketing activity a few weeks before Black Friday. To avoid missing out on special sales, it would help if you follow your favorite retail stores on social media. It can be challenging to sort out retailers’ posts on your home page. We, therefore, advise adding these retailers to your private Twitter list. For Facebook, you could take advantage of the Ads that appear based on your browsing activity to stay up-to-date with sales and special discounts.
Sign up for email newsletters
Our team can swear by this hack. All you need is an email address and a few minutes to spare to click subscribe to receive newsletters from your favorite retailers. Expect to receive countless promotional emails once the holiday season begins. We, therefore, advise creating an email address specifically for non-work stuff. You may also want to bookmark websites for reference. Consider organizing these retail sites into a folder, especially if you’ve saved several bookmarks.
Research all price-match policies
To attract more customers, major retail stores in the US offer comparison shopping through price-matching policies. These policies come in handy when trying to stick to a budget. It’s, therefore, vital to understand all rules and exceptions to prevent disappointments. Make sure you read the fine print and flyers to learn about any price-matching exclusions specific to Black Friday.
Understand retailers’ return policies and shipping fees
Acquaint yourself with retailers’ shipping and return policies. Generally, stores offer generous policies. However, some are more restrictive. Some of the things to look out for include:
- Complete cash refunds
- Hassle-free returns
- Credit card chargeback
- Store credits
Note that returns must arrive in their original package, meaning they have to be unopened. Remember, some goods such as underwear usually have more stringent return policies.
Draw up a precise itinerary
In-store purchases require time allocations for each store. We advise going to top retailers because of the variety of goods and numerous deals by category. Also, it would be best to choose stores that are closeby or in a suitable location. If you’ve seen at least one viral video of Black Friday, then you know how long the queues are and the mayhem that follows once the doors open. You don’t want to drive to another town only to find the items cleared off the shelves.
Download free shopping applications
This article wouldn’t count as a complete guide if we failed to mention shopping apps. With shopping apps, you can stay on top of the latest fashion and beauty trends. What’s more, you get a discount for signing up. Also, you’ll receive notifications for Black Friday sales the moment they are announced. Some apps are designed to aggregate coupons from multiple retailers. Our top favorite includes:
- This app offers a barcode scanner that comes in handy for instore shoppers who want to compare pricing from different retailers
- This app aggregates coupons and flyers. You can personalize Black Friday Wishlist too
- With Rakuten, you can expect instant deals and discounts once the holiday season begins
Black Friday In-store shopping tips
Utilize your rewards credit card
It’s no secret that some shoppers make the most significant purchases of the year during Black Friday. Even before you start buying, ensure you have the right credit cards with you. Consider having cash-back credit cards and those that offer bonuses for particular purchases. Recall our recommendation regarding shopping apps? You’ll be glad to know that app purchases make you eligible for rewards such as payouts.
Take advantage of discounted gift cards
Discounted gift cards are another perfect option to help you save a considerable amount of money. For legit gift cards, check sites such as Raise for up to 40% discounts. Don’t forget to pick the right gift card, i.e., digital for online buys or physical if you plan to shop in-store. You might want to buy extra gift cards to gift your loved ones.
Take someone with you
Black Friday is a fun affair but can seem overwhelming if you decide to do it alone. Let’s say you are shopping for household items. You could agree with your partner to divide and conquer. You could shop for cosmetics and apparel while they shop for electronics and sporting equipment.
Even though Black Friday falls during the winter season, you shouldn’t don your snuggest coat as it may become unbearable throughout the day. A fleece coat will do. Also, ensure you’ve got the right footwear, preferably ones without laces, to save you time during apparel and shoe shopping.
Arrive on time
To snag that coveted TV that’s been on your Wishlist all year, you might have to sacrifice your sleep. Usually, the best deals begin at 4 am and end at around 9 am. By this time, all popular goods will be out of stock. Therefore, if you must get a particular item, you should be willing to stand in line as early as 3 am.
If you plan on shopping physically, it would be best to stay alert and avoid unsafe circumstances. Here are a few things to adopt during this shopping holiday
- Avoid standing close to the door. Remember, you’ll be queueing with a group of sleep-deprived adults who are willing to do anything to grab the best deals. It’s best not to be among the first group to reduce the risk of injury in the event of a stampede.
- Keep your personal effects close. Thieves take advantage of crowded stores on Black Friday to steal shoppers’ valuables. Consider storing your wallets inside your jacket instead of carrying it in a purse, which could easily get lost.
- DON’T fight over items! Though rare, there have been altercations over coveted items. Your life is more precious than that item. Only take that last item if the other shopper doesn’t protest.
- Stay vigilant at all times. To make it out of the store safely, be attentive to your surroundings. Avoid standing aimlessly in parking lots that are full of angry drivers. Also, store your goods inside your trunk to prevent theft.
Black Friday Online shopping tips
Keep off suspicious retail websites
Before making any online purchases, check whether the retailer’s site has a valid SSL certificate and is protected by Verisign. An additional precautionary measure would be installing an antivirus extension on your internet browser. Most software will flag websites that lack “HTTPS” on their URL.
Disable browser cookies or go Incognito
Some retail sites track shopper’s interests and browsing activity to personalize offers. To avoid such restrictions, you should browse in Incognito mode. You could also disable cookies for normal browsing to access various deals and not from just one category.
Install price comparison tools
For Amazon, use the CamelCamelCamel website to compare product prices. Another nifty tool is Google Shopping. It lists down prices from various retailers to help you select the cheapest option.
While everyone loves bargains, it’s not easy to get the best deals without arming yourself with essential shopping knowledge. Black Friday is the perfect day to treat you and your loved ones to some unique items. To make the most out of this awaited shopping holiday, make sure you follow our extensive guide for safe in-store and online shopping. Lastly, don’t forget to have fun!