Have you noticed that the political campaign commercials have been replaced with holiday sales jingles? If you're like me, you've held off on starting your Christmas shopping in hopes of finding lower prices on Black Friday. Black Friday provides an opportunity to save hundreds of dollars if you know what you're doing when you hit the stores. In this article, I will give you some tips to help this day that is a chaotic frenzy of greedy shoppers run as smoothly as possible by letting you know how early you should get started, the best way to find good deals, whether or not to shop online, and even whether you actually will find the lowest prices of the year on Black Friday.
How early you should get up and line up at the stores depends on what you are looking to buy that day. Most stores have “early bird" specials that you have to get there early if you are going to get that price. But if the items you are shopping for aren't part of that sale, then there is no point in losing sleep. It certainly won't help you fight the crowd - hundreds of people line up outside of stores on Black Friday before they even open their doors. One thing to think about is though, is that some stores have limited quantities of certain items, so if you are looking for something that is in high demand, you might want to get there early to ensure they won't be sold out before you get there.
If you want to find the lowest prices on Black Friday, then it is best if you do some comparison shopping beforehand. You can do this by using the ads. I usually sit on my living room floor with all of the ads laid out before me and I circle the items that are on my list. Then I compare prices for each store to figure out where the best deal is. Be sure to read the small print so that you know the quality of the item too. For example, you may see two laptops for $799, but one will have 1GB of RAM and the other will only have 528MB.
Should you shop online or go out to the stores? That depends. I prefer shopping online on Black Friday mainly to avoid the hassle of the crowds. But some people find the frenzy exhilarating. If you do choose to shop online, you can usually get the same low Black Friday prices they have at the stores, and many companies also offer free shipping on this day.
Before you go out and max out your credit card, remember that just because it's Black Friday doesn't mean you are going to be getting the lowest price possible. Many stores don't lower their prices until right before Christmas because they are counting on the volume of customers on Black Friday to bring them sales, not their prices. So take advantage of the lowest prices, but if you hold off a little on everything else, you can probably find a better deal as the holidays get closer.
Brooke is a consumer advocate dedicated to helping shoppers save time and saving money. She will keep an updated list of the LOWEST BLACK FRIDAY PRICES here.