I want thank Stage Stores for sponsoring this post. As always, all opinions expressed here are my own.
Can you feel the excitement in the air? The official kick-off to the holiday shopping season is upon us! I hope that you've been “making your lists and checking them twice” because the there are sales and deals waiting to be yours- you just have to have the right plan of attack to take advantage of them, keep your holiday spending under control, and get everything you want on your shopping list! Over the years I've built up an arsenal of Black Friday shopping tips- and I am going to share them with you today!
Are there really great deals on Black Friday? Or is just the same stuff that was on sale last week?
At one point in my career, I was an apparel buyer for a large department store. In that position, I was responsible for selecting the styles to be sold in the stores, for determining how much of each style to buy, and how to price and promote the merchandise. And I can tell you from my experience, that there is great pressure on buyers to deliver fantastic sales promotions that will drive customers into the store during the holiday season, and get those customers to open their wallets and spend their hard-earned dollars with you, as a retailer.
The real reason that there continue to be such great sale prices on Black Friday year after year, is that the retailers are “up against” these promotional sales figures each year. And the only way to re-create (and hopefully exceed) the sales volume that they captured last year is to come up with new deals to bring the customers back again. If a buyer were just to keep putting the same thing on sale each week at the same price- there would be no excitement, no compelling reason to buy- and that buyer wouldn't hit her sales figures. So she needs to find something new. Something big. Something that makes her customers want to shop!
You CAN score great deals on Black Friday- and REALLY save $!
Your goal is to get everything you have on your shopping list- while sticking to your holiday budget! Is it a bit crazy in the stores on Black Friday? Of course it is! But it also can be a lot of fun. So here's how to shop, get the great deals, and have fun while doing it!
#1. Start with a shopping list AND a budget!
Make a list of everyone that you intend to purchase a gift for this holiday season. Assign a dollar value to each gift, so that you have a budget to work from as you are preparing your “plan of attack”. I create a list for each of my children, and write down the things that they are asking for this season (I might omit a few things- like the pony they have requested!) These lists give you a starting point as you start leafing through the Black Friday sales flyers.
#2. Study the Black Friday ads!
You can either make sure that you get the newspaper on Thanksgiving, which will be filled to the brim with all of the sales flyers, or you can go online to BlackFriday.com and start leafing through them now. Many retailers have also put their Black Friday ads on their websites so you don't have to wait for Thursday morning (you can find the Stage Stores Black Friday ad here!)
Now start matching up the deals in the flyers with the items on your shopping list. List the retailer, the sales price, and any details about doorbuster time frames or limited quantities.
#3. Now craft your shopping “plan of attack list”
At this point you want to re-create your shopping list by retail store, making a note of the time that each store opens, and whether or not the deal you want to shop is only available during a specific time period (such as 6am-11am). Note whether the ad specifies “quantities are limited”. You'll want to hit these sales first because they will sell out quickly- sometimes within minutes of the store opening!
Here's an amazing deal for Beats headphones (something that is definitely on my kids holiday wish list!). Regularly $169.99 these are on sale for $96.99 at Stage Stores- which is a great deal. But right on the cover of the Black Friday catalog- they tell you that quantities are limited. And that the sale starts at 2pm on Thanksgiving Day. So you know if you want to snag this deal- you are going to need to get in line early… which leads me to…..
4. Shop with a buddy!
This is especially helpful if you want to grab more than one “doorbuster deal” at a store- you and your friend can split up and “divide and conquer”. And if you walk into a store and the check-out lines are already snaking around the inside of the store- station one person in the check out line while the other grabs the items off of her shopping list, and then switch. Hopefully you will be near the check-out counter by the time you both have snagged what you came for!
Stage Stores is planning some “Fun In Line” this Thanksgiving, with activities like bingo, a holiday sing along, and the first 75 customers in line get a surprise scratch off card (3 customers will receive $100, $75 or $50 gift cards and 72 will receive a $10 coupon). And if you are waiting in line, you can take pictures using the ‘fun in line’ selfie signs (#funinline)!
#5. Make sure you are taking advantage of all possible discounts!
I call this “layering the deal”. You'll see in the above Stage Stores ad, one of their doorbuster deals is for Rampage fashion boots for $19.99. I know my daughter would flip for the black/tan riding boot on the left side of the page, and at $80 for the regular price- that is one heck of a deal! But also look at the deal in the lower right hand section of the page- for every $50 I spend 11/26-12/1, I get a $10 voucher to use 12/16-1/31. That makes this deal even sweeter!
But also know what you can't layer. In the upper right corner of this page, there is “bonus bag” deal- that you receive for buying 2 pairs of Rampage boots, you'll get a $20 shopping pass. But you need to note that this deal does not apply to the doorbuster price of $19.99. And on the back of the Black Friday sales catalog, there are 2 coupons to buy a single item at 25% off. But again, this deal does not apply to the doorbuster price.
But keep this in mind…. let's say you can't get to the store by 5pm Friday to buy the boots at $19.99. But on Saturday you want to buy 2 pairs of those gorgeous riding boots which are now priced at $49.99 each. Here's how to layer the deal. Use the two coupons on the back of catalog to get them each at 25% off. Then use the bonus bag voucher to get another $20 off the boots- so you can still buy those 2 pairs of boots for $54.99! Not as great of a deal as getting them at the doorbuster price of $39.99 for 2 pairs, but still a great deal for something that would normally cost $180!
#6. Take advantage of price matching where available
Even if the store does not have a written policy to match a competitor's price, most store managers are willing to offer you the same price if you can show them an ad for the same items at another store. So don't be afraid to ask!
#7. Shop for seasonal discounts
Black Friday shopping is a great time to look for fall clearance items like outerwear, cold weather accessories, and boots, as department store buyers want to take advantage of the Black Friday traffic to move these items. So if you are like me, and are still on the lookout for kids winter coats- this would be a great time to take advantage of Stage Stores 70% off all kids outerwear deal!
#8 Take advantage of “bundled deals”
Know that some buyers work with manufacturers to put together special promotional “bundles” on items- available only at that retailer while supplies last. In the past I've scored a great deal on a Wii system for our family that came “bundled” with 3 games!
#9. Need electronics?
Black Friday is also the best day to shop for electronics- so if you are in the market for a new TV, DVD player, video or still camera- this is the day for you! Whether or not you actually intend to give the item as a gift!
#10 Keep your receipts!
You'll want to know right where to find those receipts- in case you need to return something later on. And if you happen to find that the store lowers the price next week on an item that you purchased this weekend, you can often take the item and the receipt back to the store and request a price adjustment. So it pays to keep watching those sales flyers, even after your shopping is done!
Do you have any Black Friday shopping tips to add to mine?