On the year’s most chaotic shopping days, crafting a plan and making sure your ducks are in a row can make or break the turnout of your Black Friday and Cyber Monday efforts. Let these six tips be your guide to a successful weekend of holiday spending.
1. Start Early
And not just the morning of. Numerous retailers have hopped on the trend of promoting their Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals before Thanksgiving Day. Places like Sam’s Club, which kicked off its “Pre-Black Friday Sale” on Nov. 17, are giving consumers plenty of time to take advantage of the year’s hottest deals, online or in the store. Other stores give early shoppers an advantage on Friday, like World Market, which is giving away a free $10 gift certificate to the first 100 customers. The classic saying holds true, even for shopping strategies: The early bird gets the worm!
2. Do Your Research
Has anyone ever told you, “Don’t buy the first item you see?” While impulse buying can be a thrill, doing your research and comparing prices are signs of a seasoned Black Friday/Cyber Monday shopper. There are a wide range of mobile apps, such as ShopSavvy and BuyVia, that use barcode scanners to locate the best deals and discounts from local and national outlets. These resources are especially beneficial when it comes to big purchases, where a little bit of variation in discount percentage can make a big difference in the final price.
3. Stay Socially Aware
Whether through Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, or e-mail, stores use various forms of social media to advertise Black Friday/Cyber Monday giveaways and promotions. Some retailers use these methods as a way to give their followers a taste of what’s to come on the big days, like Sephora did last year with their “Black Friday Sneak Peek” campaign. The makeup giant rewarded its loyal Snapchat followers by giving them a first look at the deals awaiting them in the store and online. Taking the time to “like” a business’ page or subscribe to their e-newsletter can give you access to exclusive holiday savings that won’t be advertised anywhere else.
4. Set a Budget — and Stick to It
The end goal of all stores participating in Black Friday and Cyber Monday is to bombard you — the consumer — with so many too-good-to-be-true deals that your buying becomes out of control. Without some sort of plan or budget, you could easily find yourself hundreds of dollars past what you originally planned on spending. Along with having a specific dollar amount in mind to cap your shopping at, try asking yourself this one question for every item you think about purchasing: Do I really need this? Be honest with yourself. Think about other things you may need more. Breathe. Step away.
5. Protect Your Impulse Purchases
Impulse buying happens, and it’s not always a bad thing — unless you buy without backup. According to a recent Breakthrough Research survey of consumer spending habits, people are three times more likely to expect an item bought on impulse to break versus an item they had planned to buy – yet they are five times less likely to purchase a service contract to protect these impulse purchases. You won’t want to make that mistake on Black Friday or Cyber Monday. By agreeing to add a service contract to your purchases, you can enjoy peace of mind knowing that if it breaks or malfunctions, you have a plan that can save you from worry and expenses in the long run. Check out the Service Contract Industry Council for some great tips and information about protecting your quick picks this holiday season.
6. Don’t Be Afraid to Haggle
Personally, I love to haggle with shop owners. The thrill of going back and forth, beginning to walk away when they won’t come down to your price, and the shout of “OK. I’ll do $3,” gets my adrenaline pumping just writing about it. Using the previously mentioned price-comparison apps, you have a good chance of getting retailers to match the price you found at another store. The more confident you are with haggling, the better your results will be.