November 20, 2012 | Alliant Credit Union
How to shop like a pro on Black Friday
Will you shop for bargains on Black Friday, November 23? If so, expect plenty of company. Since 2005, Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving), has emerged as the busiest shopping day of the year. It's when many major retailers open their doors in the wee hours of the morning or at the stroke of midnight (or even on the evening of Thanksgiving Day) to lure in shoppers with the bait of deeply-discounted merchandise.
Last year, more than 226 million Americans took advantage of Black Friday sales, according to the National Retail Federation. And 26% of these early birds waited hours in line in front of stores for the chance to get their hands on door buster sales.
This year's hot bargains are expected to be the same as last year's - tablets (including eReaders), HDTVs, computers, smartphones, GPS systems, audio and video equipment, cameras and camcorders, video games and toys, according to blackfriday.gottadeal.com.
Here are 7 tips to help you score deals:
- Develop a plan of attack. Your goal is to get the things you want, not to save money on items you'll never need. Make a list of the things you want, prioritize them and set an overall budget for yourself.
- Start pricing the items today. Now is the time to learn about the items that interest you. Check newspaper ads and go online to benchmark regular and sale prices. To get a true online price, factor in any shipping charges. Another way to check for the best prices: scan the item's barcode on your smartphone and use apps, such as ShopSavvy or Amazon Price Check, to compare prices from various vendors.
- Evaluate the deals. Compare the brands and product features. Check sources, such as Consumer Reports, to find the pros and cons of various brands and models. Also, rely on reviews by people who currently have the product you're thinking of buying. You'll find these on websites, such as Epinions.com, Amazon.com and most retailers' websites.
- Do reconnaissance. You'll be a step ahead of the competition if you learn the layout, brands and prices of the stores you're interested in.
- Be on the lookout. Check your local newspaper and blackfriday.com for last-minute deals. Sign up for the Facebook pages of your favorite retailers to be notified of any exclusive Black Friday deals and coupons.
- Don't let the details kill you. Before making your purchase, find out the store's return policy and whether it offers a price guarantee (to match a lower price offered by another retailer). Also, get a gift receipt, which will make it easier to return the item if you or the recipient are unsatisfied with it.
- Beware of impulse buys. Keep an eye on your budget and don't overspend, especially on items you have not planned or researched.
Sources: The Christian Science Monitor, The Wall Street Journal, bankrate.com, cnn.com, usatoday.com, nrf.com, consumerworld.com, msn.com, yahoo.com and blackfriday.gottadeal.com
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