By Noah Henry • November 18, 2013
It’s a warzone out there. People are plotting and scheming and devising their Black Friday strategies. And retailers are doing the same. For the first time in history, stores are opening their doors on the day before, while families blissfully bite into turkeys, cranberries and pie.
And they know it’s going to be a battleground. Up 16 percent from last year, shoppers are planning to hit the web instead of their local mall—46 percent to be exact. Safe from the droves of deal-hungry shoppers clawing their way to victory, this is indeed the safest way to shop as the curtains open up, as noted by the first tip in this list:
1. Shop Online
Black Friday is synonymous with brick-and-mortar madhouses, but this year, it’s in your best interest to do your shopping online. Many stores are featuring doorbuster deals as early as Thanksgiving, right when the clock strikes 12:00 a.m. Some of these include Dick’s Sporting Goods, JCPenney and Office Depot. If you’re too war-weary—perhaps you’ve participated in too many Black Fridays—shopping online is the way to go.
2. Arm Yourself with Apps
The promocodes.com Coupon App will have you comparing prices, browsing deals when you enter a store’s page, and generally kicking butt when it comes to saving on Black Friday. But there are others. The BFAds.net Black Friday App (via iTunes) helps you plan your hunt weeks in advance. In addition, it gives you updates when new Black Friday deals emerge, lets you cross compare items and prices, and gives you early access to all the best ads and deals from the major retailers. If you do your shopping in-store, you might also want to arm yourself with RedLazer to utilize price match guarantees.
3. Go Early
As you already know, this year it’s Black Thursday. Drop the fork and hit the stores. They say the early bird gets the worm, and never before has that idiom been more relevant. “But Noah, what stores are opening on Black Thursday?” I’m so glad you asked:
Bealls – Thanksgiving at 1 p.m.
Bealls Florida – Thanksgiving through Black Friday
Belk – Thanksgiving (online only)
Best Buy – Thanksgiving at 6 p.m.
Big Lots – Thanksgiving at 7 a.m.
Bon-Ton – Thanksgiving from 6 a.m. (online doorbusters)
CVS Pharmacy – Thanksgiving to Saturday
Dell Home – Thanksgiving at 6 p.m.
Dick’s Sporting Goods – Thanksgiving (online all day)
Dollar General – Thanksgiving at 7 a.m.
Gander Mountain – Thanksgiving at 8 a.m.
Hastings – Thanksgiving at 1 p.m.
HHGRegg – Thanksgiving at 8 p.m.
Home Depot – Thanksgiving at 6 a.m. (online only)
JCPenney – Thanksgiving all day (online)
Kmart – Thanksgiving at 6 a.m.
Kohl’s – Thanksgiving at 8 p.m.
Lowe’s – Thanksgiving (online)
Macy’s – Thanksgiving at 8 p.m.
Modell’s – Thanksgiving at 8 p.m.
Office Depot – Thanksgiving all day (online)
OfficeMax – Thanksgiving at 12:01 a.m. EST (online, not including doorbusters)
PetSmart – Thanksgiving at 6 a.m. EST (online)
RadioShack – Thanksgiving all day (online)
RiteAid – Thanksgiving at 8 a.m.
Sears - Thanksgiving at 8 p.m.
Shoe Carnival – Thanksgiving at 6 p.m.
Sports Authority – Thanksgiving at 6 p.m.
Staples – Thanksgiving at 8 p.m.
Target – Thanksgiving at 10 p.m.
Tommy Hilfiger – Thanksgiving all day
Toys R Us – Thanksgiving at 5 p.m.
Walmart – Thanksgiving at 6 p.m.
4. Take Black Friday ads with you
Yes—take them to the store. It’s imperative that you do this. Everyone needs a reference while they shop. Stores will be willing to price-match. Having the ads with you, which are available at sites like BlackFriday.com and TheBlackFriday.com, will give proof of the lower price and models. This is a good way to capitalize on where some stores will be weak and others will be strong. The big guys—Target, Walmart and Best Buy—promise to price match.
Don’t feel bad. Haggling has been a tool since humans learned to commerce. Also, 43 percent of people say they’ll try to haggle at some point during the holiday season. It’s best to haggle at small, independent stores because they usually can’t match up to the big names in retail. It’s never a bad thing to ask. Things to keep in mind: talk to managers, as salespeople generally don’t wield the power to knock down the prices; and don’t be afraid to walk away.
6. Sign up for store credit cards
Unless you already have one. Signing up for a store credit card on Black Friday can get you up to 30 percent off in some cases. Once you make that initial buy, there’s never a need to use your credit card ever again. Use it for this special occasion, which usually comprises the bulk of your year’s discretionary buys.
7. Go electronic
Black Friday is renowned for its deals on electronics. Never will you see better deals offered during the year. It’s the one day (or four days) when you should mark off your electronic wish list, because the prices are the best all year.
8. Keep the gift receipt
We all make mistakes. This is to be expected. In the hustle and bustle of the Black Friday marathon, you’re going to want to remember this piece of advice, as usually there are one or two recipients who won’t fit into those socks, won’t dig the iPhone, or won’t fly that kite. Keep the gift receipt.
9. Keep an eye out for the renegades
Some stores will be offering Black Friday-worthy deals a week in advance. Tommy Hilfiger, for example, is blessing us with 30% off sweaters until the 26th. Restaurant.com is offering $25 gift certificates for only $6 until the 26th. And Kate Spade Saturday is giving us a site-wide 25% off discount until the 24th. As always, you should keep an eye out for renegades to avoid the mass droves of crazy-eyed shoppers come the 28th.
Photo cred: TotallyCoolPix
Noah Henry Noah Henry is an amateur movie critic, foodie, bowler, and beer reviewer. But he's no amateur when it comes to saving money, so listen up!