It’s the busiest retail period of the year- Black Friday, which will be closely followed by Cyber Monday. As soon as the last piece of turkey (or tofurkey for the vegans reading) is finished, the focus switches to getting the best bargains possible.
In a year that has been challenging for most people, Black Friday represents a way to reward ourselves, our friends, and our family and to kick off the holiday season and 2021 with new hope and excitement. Black Friday falls on November 26 this year which means there is less than a month before Christmas. Even in a year that seems to have dragged on, Christmas has come around quickly!
In 2018, Amazon dominated Black Friday, with 26% of sales going to Jeff Bezos. This year is expected to be no different, and record purchases are expected.
But you do need to be careful and make sure you don’t fall into the pitfall of spending too much, so here are thirteen tips designed to maximize the Black Friday savings and reduce stress.
1. Utilise social media
Many brands drop deals before Black Friday. Follow your favorite brands on Social and watch for any early announcements. You should also sign up for any newsletters from retailers as often they will update their email subscribers first.
2. Set a budget
I know this can spoil the fun and excitement, but as most of the shopping will be online this year, it is easy to get carried away. Set a budget that you can afford and stick to it! Once you reach it, move away from the computer or phone and stop shopping! If you really want to plan, start a spreadsheet and update it as you go along. Tracking every purchase may not be the most fun you can have, but it will ensure you don't overspend.
3. Use Debit Cards not Credit Cards
We don’t want to overextend ourselves and get into debt for 2022. The best way to avoid this is to use debit cards, therefore only using funds that you already have.
4. Prepare a wishlist in advance
Don’t wait until Friday to work out what you want to buy. Do your research and planning now, so you are prepared. Work out who you need to buy for (don’t forget yourself!) and research the best sites to buy from in advance. Hey- that spreadsheet we discussed in point two may come in handy for this.
Thanks to Google, Black Friday shopping is easier than ever. If you want a particular brand, ensure you check out the price across all websites and retailers. Use comparison sites where possible. Sometimes the difference between websites can be significant, so it always pays to compare before buying.
6. Read the fine print!
Terms and conditions are perhaps the most boring thing to read on the planet. But they are essential. Do make sure you check the terms and conditions before buying. Are returns or refunds allowed? What is the policy of the website? Unfortunately, the devil is in the details, and many people get tripped up.
7. Ensure the price is right
Don’t be fooled into thinking everything is on sale. Marketing people are pretty smart (I should know I used to be one) and may promote a product in a way that makes it appear to be on sale. If you are unsure, refer to point five and compare prices.
8. Check out reviews
The new high-tech gadget might appear to be a must-have, but is it worth it? Before purchasing anything, you haven’t tried or seen before, have a look at consumer reviews. Not just on Amazon but across a variety of websites. Many new products are sent to journalists in advance of release, and they will provide honest reviews. A bargain can be a flop if the product doesn’t live up to expectations. When buying a product, my rule of thumb- anything that has an average review of 3.5 or less doesn’t enter my shopping cart.
9. The early bird gets the worm- and the bargain
Many of the Black Friday websites will go live with their sales in the early hours of Friday. Instead of sleeping off Thanksgiving, stay up and be amongst the first to see specials. You may be able to grab a limited offer while other people are sleeping. As the saying goes, if you snooze, you lose!
10. Get a gift receipt
If you are shopping for a Christmas present, ask for a gift receipt. This receipt won’t state what you paid for the gift but will allow the recipient to make an easy exchange if they don’t like what you bought. (You cant account for bad taste!)
11. Stick with websites you know
As mentioned, Amazon captures a significant share of the Black Friday wallet. Along with Best Buy, Target, Home Depot, and others, it’s recommended to stick to websites you can trust. Unfortunately, cybercrime is big, and there will be people out there setting up fake websites to take advantage of poor trusting consumers. If you have not heard of a website before, again, do your research. And if something seems fishy, leave the website, and go to one you know you can trust.
Also, be wary of any emails from unknown sources with links to supposed deals. If you get an email from a company that you haven’t subscribed to, delete it. Sadly this time of year is one where fraud and cybercrime increase.
12. Download a Shopping App
Hopefully, you have done your research in advance and know the prices, but if you hit the stores on Friday and want a refresh, then a shopping app is a lifesaver. Download a popular shopping comparison app like Rakuten or ShopSavvy, and before you purchase anything in a store, check out the prices in the app. Using ShopSavvy is easy- it can read barcodes and QR codes and then compare deals.
13. Support local
COVID has really hurt small local businesses. While Bezos gets richer, many of your favorite small stores have been badly hit. Where possible, try and support your local store. These are the people who need your help the most. So if you can, try not to do all your shopping on Amazon and save some spending for your local store.
With these tips in place, you should be able to minimize your costs and maximize your enjoyment of this year's Black Friday. And if you have planned well, you may even finish your Christmas Shopping in November. Now wouldn’t that be nice!