Submitted by Kammy Kuang, Resident Advisor, East Tennessee State University
1. DO YOUR RESEARCH If you are planning on making a special purchase of a big-ticket item based on a Black Friday sale, it is important to remember to check consumer reports and read consumer reviews of the item before you decide to make the purchase. If the product is bad, just because you got it for cheap doesn’t make it a good deal. Take the time to make sure it’s a quality product and worth getting up early or staying up late for the price cut.
2. BROWSE THE DEALS BEFORE YOU GO Thanks to the Internet, you can get a good idea of what deals will be where well before Black Friday shopping starts. Knowing which retailers are going to have what on sale and when before the big day will help you decide where and when you want to go, will help with budgeting, and will help you see who you have left to shop for. As you browse the deals, make a list with the product, who it’s for, the price, the location, and any special hours for the sale.
3. C OMPARE P RICES B EFORE Y OU H EAD O UT Shop around to see what the average retail price of an item is before you leave, so you can go to the store that is offering the best deal. Check to see what usually comes with the item you are looking for, and what the store is offering. Many stores offer ”stripped down” versions of products, which means you will have to spend money on accessories. Take time to see what accessories you will need to determine if the deal is really worth it or not.
4. B RING A DS WITH Y OU Bring sales ads with you so you can have them available if you need to call a store out on their “lowest price guarantee.” Most stores have a policy that will allow them to match or beat a lower advertised price, but will require you to show the ad as proof to process the price difference. Generally speaking, the store policy will not apply to online advertised deals, even in the case of the store website due to online only deals, but you can always print the web page where you saw the deal with the advertised price and give it a shot.
You should practice budget saving shopping and make regular payments to avoid hefty interest charges, but many stores offer extra discounts and warranties if you make purchases on your store card. This, when paid in full as if it were cash, can offer extra savings benefits. 5. USE STORE CREDIT CARDS
Many stores advertise early bird deals, generally between 4 and 11 a.m., to help draw in the crowd, but also offer night owl specials between the hours of midnight and 4 a.m. to draw in the crowd that doesn’t like to get up early, but would rather stay up late. Cashing in on these deals is not only a good way to beat the crowd, but it’s a good way to guarantee the getting will be good, because typically, once the deals are gone, they are gone. 6. E ARLY B IRD AND N IGHT O WL S PECIALS
7. F AMILIARIZE Y OURSELF WITH S TORE P OLICY As stores are becoming stricter on return and exchange policies, knowing the store policies before you go can help you decide where to shop and what places to avoid. Most stores are now starting to charge a restocking fee and closing the return window, so customers do not have as long to return a product. The amount of time you have to return something is important since you’re buying nearly a month in advance. Having a receipt is also very important, because no receipt often means no return.
8. DON’T FORGET THE GIFT RECEIPT Many stores are printing a gift receipt so you can include a receipt with the gift in the event of return or exchange, without divulging how much money you spent on the item. While many stores do this automatically for holiday season purchases, it is important to ask for one so you can be sure to have it for the recipient.