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Do's and Don'ts of Black Friday
Published Fall 2014 by the GottaDeal.com staff
We at GottaDeal.com have covered Black Friday online since 2003, back when most people would give you a strange look when you mentioned the term. Now Black Friday is a part of the social lexicon. It trends on Twitter. It dominates news coverage in late November. And it's used by retailers to get you to buy everything under the sun, sometimes in the middle of summer.
It's been predicted that more people than ever will be out shopping on Black Friday this year, so we thought it would be a great time to help everyone out with a guide to what you should - and shouldn't - do to have a successful Black Friday.
DO use sites such as GottaDeal.com to view the Black Friday ads weeks before they appear in your newspaper. No longer do you have to wait until mere hours before stores open to check out the deals. Besides, you have better things to do on Thanksgiving.
DON'T be fooled by "Pre-Black Friday" sales, "Black Friday in July", "Black Friday NOW" or other gimmicks that the retailers are using to make you think their normal sales are anything close to the level of deals expected on the real Black Friday.
DO use the extra time you have with the ads to do research on what you are interested in. Read product reviews, compare prices with online retailers and other stores' Black Friday ads. Also be sure to check out our comparison charts.
DON'T automatically assume that everything in a Black Friday ad is a genuinely good deal. You'll even see items advertised in ads that are at the store's "everyday low price". Do your homework and go after the cream of the crop when it comes to deals.
DO try to order as much online before leaving the house. Many retailers will put their Black Friday sale online starting as early as Wednesday night. The more you can buy online, the more room you'll have in your trunk for other purchases.
DON'T forget about Thanksgiving Day sales. More stores are having separate sales on Thursday only where you can sometimes get deals that are similar in "hotness" to those found on Black Friday. Some of these are also available online.
DO try to make a schedule of stores, but realize that schedule is likely to fall apart during the course of the day. Stores are opening as early as Thursday night, so determine the best itinerary so you can get to each store as soon as possible.
DON'T assume that you'll be able to price match Black Friday ad items at your favorite store. Each store has their own policy which can sometimes change for Black Friday. Call ahead and speak to a manager to find out exactly what you are allowed to do.
DO read our article on camping (Black Friday Camping 101) if you plan on camping out this year for Black Friday. Advance planning can make your experience stress-free and enjoyable. If you want the best deals, this may be your only option.
DON'T always go to the stores & malls nearest you if you live in a bigger city. In some cases, driving the extra distance to more rural locations could mean less crowds and a better chance of scoring that hot doorbuster deal this year.
DO make a shopping list before you leave the house. You can make one right here on the site if you'd like, and even send it to others. Bring the list as well as copies of the Black Friday ads (or have them saved on your smartphone).
DON'T leave the cash at home. Keep some emergency cash with you just in case the store's credit card system is not working so you don't miss getting that doorbuster. You probably won't need it, but if you do, you'll be glad you have it.
DO remember to bring your loyalty or shopping rewards cards if you plan on shopping at those stores. Also remember to bring any coupons appearing in the physical Black Friday sales circulars.
DON'T purchase overpriced accessories and extended warranties. Stores such as Best Buy aggressively try to sell their highly marked-up accessories (cables, etc.) and service plans on Black Friday. Just say no.
DO shop with others if possible. Split up purchases between your group into different parts of the store to maximize your chances of getting what you want and minimize the time spent in the crowded store. Have a plan of attack for everyone.
DON'T be disconnected. Bring a cell phone to communicate with others in your group. If you have a smartphone, use it to check the live reports posted on our message boards to find out what others are experiencing at their local stores.
DO become familiar with each store's policy for doorbuster items. Some stores have a ticket system for the most popular items. Other stores have random drawings. At other stores, it's just a race to the individual department.
DON'T leave your cart unattended, especially if you have it loaded with items that may sell out before others can get them. You may not be shady enough to steal something from someone else's cart, but there are others who won't think twice.
DO dress comfortably. Wear appropriate footwear as you'll likely be on your feet for most of the day. Wear layers so you can remove or add clothing depending on the temperature at each location. You may also want to bring small snacks.
DON'T commit any of the common Black Friday "sins" - skipping lines, pushing people to get by them, stealing items from the carts of others or being disrespectful. Everyone is looking to get what they want - act like adults!
DO consider taking a basket instead of a shopping cart. You can usually get around the store much more quickly without a shopping cart to push around. Some stores may allow you to use reusable grocery bags to store your future purchases in.
DON'T be afraid to ask questions from the store employees. If you are a looking for a certain item, they can lead you to it. If something appears to be sold out, ask if they'll be putting more out at some point. They are there to help you.
DO have fun! And be sure to come back to the site afterwards to share your experiences and let everyone know what you got.