Americans usually have a few things to look forward to during the Thanksgiving holiday; Turkey, NFL Football, and having the following Friday off. For those choosing to be proactive, this Friday off proves to be an excellent opportunity to eliminate the shopping stress associated with Christmas shopping. At some point, retailers eventually figured this out and started seeking ways to attract customers by using significant price cuts, specials, bundles and freebies.
The only problem with giving stuff away below MSRP is that it may cause more harm than good, so retailers began limiting supplies with the hope shoppers may stick around and make purchases on other goods at regular price.
The word "black" was established as a result of many retailers opening their doors at midnight or during hours of the morning where it is still dark outside.
Now that my informal history lesson is over, it's time that I set the record straight. Shoppers - get your crap together! This is my official notice that you have all lost your minds when it comes to Black Friday, but before I tear you all a new one, I want to acknowledge the patient and gracious shoppers that have no problems with missing the deal or watching that last 50 inch Toshiba, that you wanted, leave the palette in Wal-Mart in someone else's possession.
This post is directed solely at the idiots that throw tantrums, disrespect sales associates or demand that another $350 plasma television magically appear for them to purchase. I can't speak for every other shopper, but I have personally grown tired of the unrealistic expectations, the treats of lawsuits and the claims of false advertisement. So to this end, this blog post is for you, but I won't leave you hanging. Below you can find a few things to help you manage your shopping goals the next time Black Friday or any other major shopping holiday rolls around:
- The small print is there for a reason. If you see the words "limited supplies" or "while supplies last" this is your notice that the retailer only has a handful of the particular item advertised. The total could be small as in five $200 Compaq laptops or 50 Black and Decker coffee makers. Either way, there probably aren't enough of any one item to satisfy the 200 people standing in line.
- What you see is what you get. The goals of retailers like Wal-Mart and Target are to sell as much merchandise as quickly as possible, so it's safe to say, the best way to achieve these goals is to give shoppers as much access as possible. This said, shoppers can expect to find all of the advertised items somewhere on the sales floor. Often the merchandise is placed in areas of the store where they are least expected to help control foot traffic. If you get to the empty palette or watch as the last Emerson 32 inch gets carried away by someone else, you are simply out of luck.
- Stop circular shopping. Making our your shopping list based on your Black Friday sales flyer is a terrible idea. At best, you may be fortunate enough to even secure one of the items listed so getting your hands on several at the advertised price is highly unlikely.
- You aren't special. Just because you are articulate or even a raging lunatic; you are no different than the other 100 people who waited in line for the XBox 360 bundle pack. If you don't get your hands on the merchandise, there is no point in berating the nearest sales associate or calling for a manager. It simply wasn't your moment to get that particular deal.
- Stop shopping for yourself. The reality is, many shoppers are simply seeking opportunities to purchase an item they have coveted for quite some time. They build up their hopes only to be greatly disappointed when they miss their opportunity.
Now that I have beat up the clowns that always make Black Friday unbearable, I have several strategies to offer that may increase your chances of catching great deals on all the items you want to buy.
- Form a team. With the competition growing every year and the quantities of merchandise not increasing much, your odds of landing multiple deals decreases tremendously. By forming a shopping team, you can strategically place friends and family at high priority items. Your team gives you the ability to be in more than one place at the same time.
- Download the maps. Most major retailers offer store maps that pinpoint the exact location of sales items. It only takes a minute to search for your favorite retailer and gives you the opportunity to roll out a game plan.
- Plan for one store. It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking you can visit several stores to purchase the advertised sales items. The problem with this plan is that most stores will have limited supplies which will likely be depleted by the time you arrive to a second store.
- Prepare for an "all nighter." If you are serious about being the first in line, be the first in line. This may require a lot of standing around, so be prepared. Consider bringing a fold up camping chair, or purchase one earlier in the store so you can sit at the item you want. Regardless of what you choose to do, just know that getting what you want on Black Friday will be test of your endurance and patience.
- Know the system. Some stores use a ticketing system, others simply shrink wrap the palettes and let lines form. Either way, knowing the system helps you comply with each store's organization system. Additionally, some stores are open prior to the sale start time allowing customers the opportunity to post up near the desired merchandise while other stores have shoppers wait outside the building until the doors open at a specific time.
- Have a "Plan B." The reality is, there are no guarantees that you are going to get your hands on anything you had hoped for so be prepared to either head home empty-handed or explore the store to purchase goods at regular pricing. Who knows, maybe you'll wander into a good deal after all.
- Read the small print. Paying attention to small details in the advertising language may help you plan an effective shopping strategy. If you see language like "One Hour Guarantee," you may want to find out what the stipulations are. Do you have to be at a certain point in line? Are you required to have a ticket? Will the item be available by a certain calendar day? Knowing the terms can help you prioritize items you want and when you should arrive at the store.
Shop safe and smart!
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