In the world of retail, the holidays begin with massive sales on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. For e-tailers, the holiday season really kicks off on Cyber Monday. And that means great deals for consumers on everything from the latest tech gadgets and small appliances to fashion and toys.
With so many limited-time offers, it can be overwhelming to find what you’re looking for, but if you approach this mission with a strategic plan, walking away with the best deals is a breeze. Here are five ways you can make the most of Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals.
1. Do Your Research to Keep Your Cool
Did you know that many retail chains actually mark up their prices before the holidays, just so they can “reduce” the prices during the holiday season? Prepare yourself by doing some research into the regular price for your favorite game consoles, TV brands, designer shoes, or whatever you are looking for this year.
No matter how tempting the sale is or how much you want the item, don’t fall for the “75% off!” tags without comparing first. You might actually get a better deal with a flash coupon for online stores than buying the first discounted console you see in the mall as you wander around in a turkey fog. Get a jump on your comparison shopping well before the sales begin.
2. Celebrate Black Friday All Week
More than 151 million unique shoppers bought gifts during the 2015 Thanksgiving weekend, according to the National Retail Federation. If the thought of shopping elbow-to-elbow with huge crowds unnerves you, you’ll be happy to know that some major online retailers like Amazon, Best Buy and NewEgg actually offer fantastic discounts all Thanksgiving week.
So if you don’t want to fight the traffic — or leave the comfort of your easy chair — consider doing your Black Friday shopping on Tuesday. Check your favorite stores for notices about their own promotional pricing.
3. Use Price Comparison Apps
By this time next year you may be able to make all your purchases online without a single click. But until Google gets their purchase-by-voice technology (also known as “conversational shopping”) to the market, you can use the Google Shopping app to compare prices and inventory.
In fact, there are plenty of great shopping apps available for both Android and Apple to help you compare online as well as brick-and-mortar pricing. The ScanLife app even rewards you for scanning barcodes by giving you points that you can cash in for discounts on future purchases. There may be opportunities to get in on a flash sale or mobile coupon as well, so remember to sign up for text and email alerts from all your favorite retailers.
4. Map Your Route
Unless you plan your shopping expedition for efficiency, you could wind up exhausting yourself before you’ve even sat down for Thanksgiving dinner. If you’re looking for a really popular item this year, plan to call ahead or send an email to make sure your preferred size, color, or style is available before leaving the house.
Some stores will hold items for you at the layaway department, and it’s a good idea to call several days in advance or send an online inquiry before Black Friday or Cyber Monday if you want to try this strategy. Ask how long they will hold an item for you.
Make a list of must-have items and prioritize by the following characteristics:
- Store hours
- Product availability
- Potential shortages
- Probability of flash sales and limited discounts
Use this list to map out your route so you know which stores to visit first and which products will likely sell out quickly.
5. Get a Little Help Tracking Down the Deep Discounts
If you are working from scratch — meaning you don’t even have a complete list of items you plan to buy — you can still get in on some the best deals at BlackFriday.com. This year the site lists discounts and special pricing from dozens of retailers along with information about last year’s pre-season sales offerings, store hours, and special promotions as soon as they are released. Stop by the website to review last year’s price discounts for your favorite brands so you will have a better idea of what to expect this year.