Black Friday is nearly upon us. If you've decided that you're willing to brave the crowds and the chaos, it's time to prepare. That's right: there's prep work involved. At least, there is if you want to get the best bargains on the craziest shopping day of the year.
Know Your Doorbusters
The first step is to make sure you have the basics covered. Understand what ads mean by terms like "Early bird" and "doorbusters." Hint: these are terms used to describe extra-special Black Friday deals that are only available during specific times (usually when a store first opens) and often in very limited quantities. This is the store's way of drawing you in early.
And arriving early just might mean shopping on Thanksgiving night. In most places, stores open late on Thursday to attract hordes of super-early shoppers. If you live in Maine, Massachusetts, or Rhode Island, however, you can wait until Friday to begin shopping, as these states have Blue Laws that prevent stores from opening on a holiday.
Know When the Deals Start
Some retailers do forgo opening on Thanksgiving voluntarily in other states, to allow their employees more time at home with their families. Before you head out on Thanksgiving evening, check to make sure the store you want to hit is actually open. DealNews.com has an extensive listing of stores that are open and closed on the holiday, so that's a great place to start.
Your Black Friday homework should also involve checking out Black Friday ads, many of which are already published and available online. Websites like TheBlackFriday.com and BlackFriday.com have done a lot of the legwork already, and have published links to tons of Black Friday circulars that are available online.
Have Apps to Help You Compare Prices
And check out their published prices and compare them to other stores and to a product's own price history (using something like the Camelizer, a Chrome Extension that allows you to see price history over time) to make sure you're getting a good deal. Remember: Just because they tell you something is on sale, that doesn't mean you're getting the best deal!
While that may sound like a lot of homework, your work doesn't end when you head out on Black Friday. Be sure to install mobile apps like those from Amazon and PriceGrabber on your phone so you can check competitor's prices on a certain item when you're in the store.
And rest assured, Black Friday isn't your only option for scoring fantastic holiday bargains. After all, Cyber Monday is just around the corner!