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Top tips for shopping on Black Friday

For most people, the Black Friday shopping season comes with the promise of scoring the very best deals on all sorts of items, from electronics to children’s toys. However, it’s often not as straightforward as it seems, and you may end up spending more than you anticipated despite the discounts. Read on to discover the top tips for shopping on Black Friday.

1. Do your research in advance

There’s no use in rushing to secure a great deal if the product is a dud. Black Friday often sees shoppers fighting over items that have no practical use. Always take the time to do your research beforehand to avoid spending money on something that you won’t use or even like in the first place. 

2. Create a wishlist

Some platforms allow you to set up a wishlist for all the items you intend to purchase on Black Friday. You’ll want to have a pre-created list to make it easier to stick to your budget. Black Friday sales, especially those notorious lightning deal offers, are designed in part to motivate you to buy items that you weren’t intending to buy in the first place. With all the excitement that comes with Black Friday, it’s easy to get caught up and overspend. Make a point of deciding ahead of time the items that you want to buy and how much you want your Black Friday shopping spree to set you back financially.

3. Be aware of the life cycles of tech products

If you’re buying tech products (smartphones, tablets, TVs, etc.), keep in mind that most of them are released on a one-year cycle. That means that, for the most part, you only need to wait around 12 months before a new device is released. This is a tactic employed by big tech companies to try and get you to buy into their latest releases, but the forgotten device could still be more than capable to meet your needs and it’s also more likely to be on sale. 

4. Be wary of little-known brands

While not all little-known brands are unreliable, there is a reason why some are easily-recognizable brands and others only ever seem to pop up in a sale. As previously mentioned, make sure to do your research to confirm that the brand you may potentially buy from is legitimate beyond a tempting sale.

5. Keep track of prices 

To be able to correctly judge whether you’re getting a good deal, it’s important to track the prices of the products that you’re interested in buying leading up to Black Friday. If you’re shopping from a physical store, that doesn’t necessarily mean going from retailer to retailer to compare prices - you can track prices on sites like Google Shopping, Shopzilla, and PriceGrabber. When you’re shopping in a store using smartphone apps such as ShopSavvy, Buyvia, and Shopkick allows you to scan QR codes or bar codes so that you can compare prices and even get discounts.

6. Find out if there are retailers who will match prices

Some retailers go a step further by matching prices on Black Friday deals. While most shops technically don’t have price-matching policies, they may be willing to refund the difference if you challenge them about a price drop soon after you purchase something. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • It can be helpful to have browser extensions. These small bits of software can be added to web browsers such as Chrome to customize and improve your browsing experience. Honey, for example, is a tool that will not only show you price histories but will also send you price alerts or couples as you shop for items online
  • Consider adding items to your online shopping cart if they have a price that you like even if you don’t intend to buy them right away. That way, you can find them again quickly when you want to check the websites of other retailers to see if the prices of the items on offer are a bargain. That said, it’s worth noting that placing an item in your cart doesn’t reserve it, and it could still go out of stock before you purchase it.
7. Set up an online account in good time

    If you don’t have an online account with your favorite retailer, consider setting one up in advance. It’s not uncommon for websites to slow to a crawl or even crash on Black Friday and for top deals to sell out fast. To have easy access to items, make sure you have an account that allows you to purchase quickly once deals are live.

    8. Start shopping early

    Starting your Black Friday shopping early is always a smart strategy, not only because great bargains are progressively kicking off earlier, but also because in-demand items tend to sell out quickly, or might be delivered to your doorstep on time.

    There are certain products that you probably shouldn’t wait until Black Friday to buy. Toys, for instance, should be bought early. It’s not uncommon for manufacturers to experience stock issues during holiday seasons, which is why it might be best to pre-order toys that are yet to be released and go for the ones you’re interested in as soon as you see them. Other items that might be worth buying early include newer game consoles, baby clothes and accessories, TVs, and phone accessories, to mention a few. 

    Sales at some retailers like Amazon, Target, Walmart, and Best Buy begin well before Black Friday, so make sure to grab all the best deals as early as possible.

    9. Keep up with your favorite retailers on social media

    It might be worth keeping up with The Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook feeds of your favorite retailers to keep track of exclusive promotions and deals. Many retailers often reward customers who follow or like their posts with special alerts to Black Friday discounts. 

    10. Don’t be afraid to use loyalty programs

    Most store loyalty programs often go out of their way to grant members early access to sales, promotions, and coupons, then allow them to earn rewards on the items they purchase. In some cases, you may even be able to find out whether the products you plan to buy are in stock ahead of time, which can save you valuable time.

    Final thoughts

    Several challenges come with shopping on Black Friday, including significant shortages in some product categories and figuring out the best time to shop. The tips above can make it a bit easier to navigate this tricky day.

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