The holiday shopping season is approaching rather quickly. Halloween is now just over two weeks away, and then stores will be focussing on the holiday shopping season. It doesn’t begin officially though until Black Friday, which is the day after Thanksgiving. That day this year is a little earlier than past years, as Thanksgiving in November 22nd in 2007. Retailers offer some great bargains for customers on Black Friday if you are willing to get in line early. Are you considering going to the Black Friday sales for the first time this year? If so, here are some tips for rookies out there to help you out.
Do Your Research In Advance
As recently as about three or four years ago, people could not do a lot of research ahead of time for Black Friday sales. They were pretty much limited to waiting until the day before Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving Day when stores submitted their sales fliers to the local newspapers for delivery. Many dedicated shoppers would spend hours on Thanksgiving Day going through those ads and planning their next day’s shopping trips.
That is no longer the best plan though. Now there are numerous websites out there that have message boards where “leaks” of what the Black Friday sales will be are discussed. Many of these “leaks” occur about a month before Black Friday itself. This can help you in determining that will be the hot items for this year’s Black Friday sales. Even better yet, there are quite a few websites that will post the store fliers weeks before they are officially released.
With this new source of information you can start to plan your trip ahead of time. There are certain items that are in high demand every year, these include televisions, laptop computers, and desktop computers. Keep in mind in general though the computers that have the extremely low sale prices are ones with specifications that are rather limited. In general these computers that are for sale for under $300 on Black Friday are best for just using the internet and word processing.
Identify What You Really Want
When reviewing the websites and message boards, take note of the items you really want. Are they discussed a lot on those websites? Or are they in the fliers but barely discussed. If the item you want is discussed a lot, you need to be prepared to arrive in line on Thanksgiving itself, either late afternoon or early morning. Yet, if you don’t see much discussion about an item you really want you can feel rather safe putting it on your “secondary list” and not worrying about camping out for the item.
In general my strategy is to get one of the “hot items” that year for Black Friday and then numerous secondary items. You can still save a lot of money on secondary items, but these are ones you anticipate being left in the store during the late morning hours. Keep in mind even if you get in line Thanksgiving afternoon, you will still spend some time in the store on Black Friday waiting to check out. This is why you should only count on getting one “hot” item.
Chance To Get Multiple “Hot Items”
An exception to the generalization about only being able to get one “hot” Black Friday sale item is if you camp out for a store that gives away vouchers. How this works is some of the big box stores will have their employees start at the front of the line asking who wants to purchase certain popular sale items an hour or so before the store opens. They had vouchers out giving people the right to purchase those items and you must have a voucher to purchase it. For each item they will start at the beginning of the line, so you can get vouchers for more than one item if you wish if you are at the front of the line.
Check with your store about their voucher policies. Many will allow people who get the vouchers to purchase that item at any time that morning before the “doorbuster sale” ends. That is usually sometime between 10 am and noon. If this is the case, get your vouchers and then go to one of your stores with your secondary items. That way you can guarentee you get those secondary items and still return in time to get your “hot” item as it will be reserved for you since you have a voucher.
Be Careful About Falling Into The “Purchase To Resell” Trap
Many people see Black Friday as a chance to make a profit. They plan on trying to buy the hot items or popular secondary items and reselling them on Ebay. This can be very risky as an auction website such as Ebay can get overloaded with these items after Black Friday by many people using that same strategy. In the end this results in the overall prices for those items dropping considerably. This happened last year with T.M.X Elmo as many people held them until several weeks before Christmas. The price on Ebay peaked at about $100-120 several days before Black Friday. Shortly after the beginning of December they dropped quickly and resellers were having to sell them for what they paid for them within about two weeks of Christmas. The resellers having to do that actually lost money as sellers on Ebay pay listing and final price fees. So buying to resell on Black Friday can be a very risky proposition. If you are considering this I would strongly recommend only buying items you are willing to keep for your own use if you can’t get the price you wanted in the market for resellers.
Black Friday Can Be A Lot Of Fun
I have participated in Black Friday sales now for about seven years. They can be a lot of fun, but there can be a lot of tension at those sales as well. If you are going for the hot items, be prepared to accept failure if you aren’t at the front of the line. Also be prepared to see people jumping into the front of lines and “joining their friends”. If this happens alert the store employees as they come out to open the door. If you and your fellow shoppers that were in line all turn them in the store management or police might take action against them. Don’t let a few rotten apples spoil your fun though. Just keep in mind that if you are going for the “hot items” that year the chances of line crashers are much more likely to affect you personally. Have a backup plan if it becomes clear you won’t get that item that you wanted at your first stop.