Black Friday is known for being epic—when it comes to sales AND crowds. The last thing any of us wants to do when coming out of a turkey coma is stand in a mile-long lineup, shoulder to shoulder with strangers at 4AM. And those packed malls filled with frantic shoppers? No, thank you! Buying gifts for friends and family should not resemble a scene from Braveheart.
What if we told you there’s an easier way? Here are five ways to score big on Black Friday without having to deal with all those crowds and all that stress.
1. Sign up for your favorite store’s newsletter before Black Friday. Many retailers offer special deals to subscribers, so sign up ASAP! Make sure to add the email address to your address book so it doesn’t get caught in your spam filter.
2. Stalk the social media platforms of the stores that are carrying items you have your eye on. Retailers know the power of social reach and will often extend deals to their fans before the general public can get wind of it. Message the page administrator to ask if there are any deals coming up and when they’ll be announced to get a jump start on the competition.
3. Don’t forget your local stores. Black Friday is typically observed by big box stores, but local mom & pop shops need love too! While you might not get a whopping 90% off, call in to your favorite family-owned store and ask about any deals they’re having for Black Friday. You might be pleasantly surprised—and they’ll appreciate your business.
4. Go in ahead of time or don’t go in at all. Last year, several retailers, including Toys ‘R Us and GAP, launched their deals two weeks before Black Friday. Don’t wait until the last minute. We all remember the Tickle Me Elmo fiasco. Then again, if you’d prefer to avoid the crowds altogether, you can always throw on your favorite PJs, pour yourself a cup of cocoa and shop on a site like VarageSale from the comfort of your own home.
5. Do your research. What looks like a deal might not always be a deal—which is why it’s smart to avoid high-stress shopping situations that push people into making quick purchases. Make a list of the things you actually want to buy, then go online to find out the average price so that you know you’re getting a deal. Some stores will bump up the “regular price” on the tag to trick consumers into thinking they’re saving big. Don’t go shopping without a list of the items you need and the price you want to pay for them.
Bonus Tip! Before you pay for any of your goods, find out what the store’s return policy is. This is especially important when dealing with electronics or high-priced items. If you find a better deal somewhere else, or if you simply have buyer’s remorse, you’ll sleep easier knowing exactly how many days you have to return or exchange the item.