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Preparing for Black Friday Sales – Maximizing Your Savings

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If you are not already familiar with what Black Friday is, it is the day after Thanksgiving, where a lot of stores hold massive sales. These are generally when you are going to find the best deals for different items, whether you are looking for clothing, electronics or anything else. Most major retailers have some sort of Black Friday sale, and even a lot of smaller retailers do as well. The goal is to get everyone out and about shopping for the holidays. And due to when it is located, it is an awesome time to knock out that Christmas shopping you might have been slacking on, or, if you are really efficient, knocking out the shopping you purposely waited on so you could snag some better deals. Of course, the best deals you can get are always going to depend on how much time and effort you feel like putting forth. If you take the time to do a lot of research and figure out your path and what is best for you, you are going to be doing a lot better than if you simply head to a store and hope for the best. The goal of this article is to help better prepare you for what is ahead, and look at some ways to more efficiently prepare for this awesome sale date. After all, preparation is key to success!

What is On Sale?

Pretty much anything and everything can be part of the Black Friday sale. I have even seen things as big as vehicles that are discounted; it all simply depends on the stores you are looking at, what they offer and what they can afford in terms of their own pricing. Generally speaking, though, I would say that almost nothing is going to be off limits (except maybe real estate and large things like that). So whether you are looking for a toy, new clothes or an entire furniture set, it is entirely possible to find what you want at a great deal. You just have to know where to look.

Looking Ahead of Time

One of the key things to do prior to Black Friday is to start doing your search early. The earlier you can start compiling the data on what you are interested in, the better off you are going to be. You can usually find leaked Black Friday ads for the major stores online weeks earlier, and sometimes even months depending. You can do a simple search a month before Thanksgiving to see if there are any leaks online yet. There is one important note about the leaked ads, which is that they are subject to change. They are not official until they are actually printed out and added to the newspapers, so the prices that you see within an ad may not reflect what the items are actually going to cost. I have not actually seen any cases where this has happened yet, but it is still a possibility.

Determining Values

There are a lot of things that come in to play when it comes to determining whether or not a sale actually has any value. Just because something is being sold on Black Friday, or even it being on “sale,” does not mean that it is a good deal. Sometimes items that are already overpriced are still just as bad when the discounts kick in. Some items are not even discounted!

Items to be on the look out for having their regular retail price are the latest technologies (such as in 2013, the Playstation 4 and Xbox One were both their normal price), be it game systems or other devices, like the iPods and iPhones. Usually items that are big like this are going to carry their normal price. There are some times, however, where they will come with a slight discount in the form of a free gift card or a free item like a case or a game. Just be aware that simply because the item is listed as being for sale on Black Friday does not automatically mean that you are going to be able to get it cheaper than any other time. And if it is going to cost the same price as it usually does, you are probably better off just buying it on your own time instead of trying to deal with waking up early, spending hours in the store, etc.

There are also items that you need to be aware of that might be different on Black Friday than you would normally see. The best example of this that comes to mind is with televisions. There have been some TVs on sale that look like the one you normally see, but come customized as a cheaper version. It may only come with one HDMI instead of the normal three or four, for example. Or it may have some other feature missing. Most of these changes you will not know about until you actually get to the store, and even if you are looking up the model numbers you may not notice a slight difference. When you grab the item you are looking at at the store, ensure that you check it out and see that it has everything you are needing. It is far too easy to make assumptions and end up being wrong. Do not let yourself fall prey to this! Instead, always know what it is you are looking for and be sure that you are getting what you think you are.

Mapping Out a Path

You really need to map out where you are going to go, based on the time that each sale starts, what you are getting, the area it is at, etc. There are a ton of variables that go in to this, so you really want to think hard about it. Some stores will open at the same times, while others will be at different times. Even within the same store, there can be different sale times depending on the items you are looking at. Ensure that you are reading the advertisements fully so that you do not end up missing out on any of these details. They are important!

This part is done much easier if you have more than one person. With multiple people, you can hit up multiple stores, even if they open up at the same time. Along with this, you can split up as needed to find things and get in line to make the purchases, which significantly speeds up the process (and can turn a multiple hour shopping trip in to a quick and easy one). So while you may not want to bother your friends or family, it can help out immensely. I never travel to the Black Friday deals alone; it is always with someone else so that we can all ensure that we get what we are going for, rather than having to pick and choose only an item or two.

Ideally you want to pick stores (if you are alone) that are at least a couple hours apart on their sale times. You can easily be at one for a couple of hours just trying to get through the line, and you do not want to think you are going to hit up another store after, only to find out that they opened long before you even left and that you have missed out on all of the deals. It is easier not to deal with this at all and to simply plan accordingly.

Prepare for Lines

In most areas, there are going to be some massive lines outside of the stores. Some people will actually camp outside the night before, to ensure that they are close to the front of the line as soon as the doors open. As a result, being at the store at least a few hours prior to their opening time is pretty important; otherwise you may not even get a chance to get the items you want.

Some stores will account for long lines by doing a sort of ticket system. The ones that do this will usually start handing out tickets for the more desirable items a few hours early, so that people can leave and rest assured that they are getting what they went for. This cuts down on a lot of the problems with line cutters and keeps people from being forced to sit outside the store all night just waiting for it to open. Note, though, that different stores handle all of this differently. Even from year to year I have seen differences at the same ones. It appears to usually be up to management how they want to handle the lines. So do not always count on this working, and always instead prepare to be there all night waiting.

Luckily, the wait usually is not too bad if you are even the least bit social. You are there with other people and you are all there for the same reason: to grab some great deals. As such, you already have an awesome ice breaker. It makes socializing with people that much easier, since you already have things you know for sure that you have in common. You will hear a lot of stories while you are out there, and come home with new memories each and every year! Just be sure that you are open and talk to people; it will make waiting so much easier than if you try to keep to yourself the entire time.

Some stores will also help out by bringing out things like bottled water, hot chocolate (especially when it is cold outside), donuts, and other things. This, again, is on a store by store basis and should not be expected, but it is definitely a wonderful surprise when it happens!

Know Your Store

You should already know the layout of the stores you are going to. You should know how to get around, and be able to make a straight path to the area that hosts the items you want. But there is a pretty big trick that you are going to run in to, which is that the items you want are more than likely not going to be on the shelves where you expect them. Instead, they are usually in the middle of aisles or on end caps to make them easier to access and find. This makes getting to what you want much easier, but it also means that you can skip over them if you are not paying attention to what you are walking (or running) by. Always pay attention to what is around you!

You will also have some times where items will not even be in the same area of the store that you would normally find them in. This is pretty rare, though, and I have only seen it happen a few times. As a direct example of this, a Wal Mart had tablets on sale pretty cheap last year, and they were not located in the electronics area, but rather over where the food and shoes are. So if you do not find what you are looking for where you would normally find it, be sure to ask an employee where you should be going. You may just find that things are not where they are normally found!

Long Lines to Check Out

You can cut down on the check out line significantly if you have someone that can go get in line while you pick up the items you need, or can at least get in to the line before you are done shopping. I have been in check out lines that took three or more hours, and it can be a real hassle. Prepare for this if you are going to be alone, but you are much better off if you can get someone to help out.

As for the reason why the check out lines are so long, it is not due to a lack of employees. It is because the store is flooded with people who are all getting there at the same time to buy things. Unlike normal hours where people are spread out across the day, Black Friday basically puts everyone there in a very short window. This overwhelms the check out counters and slows everything down. People can only move so fast!

Conclusion

Black Friday is a lot more than simply going out and hoping to snag some good deals. It takes a lot of research ahead of time, as well as thought as to how you are going to plan things out. Going out without a plan is almost always going to result in not getting what you want, and wasting your time in the process. Instead, research, plan, and execute. By using this guide, I have been able to successfully get every major item I have wanted at stores on a yearly basis, without fail. Now you can, too!

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