Black Friday Shopping Tips… 5 Ways To Score The Best Deals And Find The Hottest Items

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After participating in this, my 3rd season of Black Friday sales, I’ve learned a few things.

Here are some great black Friday shopping tips.

You do realize that each year, the stores change their strategies a bit, right? As do the shoppers!

Check out this summary of approaches you can take to Black Friday shopping. Most notable is the unique opportunity to take part in a Black Friday day of protest against consumerism where everyone is encouraged to “get out there and buy nothing!” Originally known as “No Shop Day”… this effort has officially been organized into International Buy Nothing Day.

Based on the stores’ unique strategies — and the shoppers’ — here are my best tips for Black Friday shopping…

I realize that 2007 Black Friday sales haven’t even officially wrapped up yet, but I’m already thinking ahead to next year.

And that’s precisely what makes Black Friday sales so successful anyway — for the stores and the shoppers — how well one strategizes the shopping process and how methodically one fine-tunes their process of bargain-shopping for the holidays.

So, here are my thoughts…

#1 For 2008 Black Friday sales, I think I’ll be concentrating more on the PRE-Thanksgiving Day sales instead of the After-Thanksgiving Day sales.

More and more stores are marking down items the day before Thanksgiving, too. I think it started with Kmart and WalMart, but now other stores are following suit, including Office Depot, and Best Buy — to name a few.

I went to a couple of the pre-Thanksgiving Day sales this year and snatched up some great deals. Plus, the crowds are much, much lighter. Thus, the bargain-shopping is much, much more enjoyable. The deals seemed just as good to me.

My favorite was from Office Depot:

A 4.0 GB SanDisk Cruzer Thumb Drive

…$129 in the store, on the shelf
$109 online
…$27 pre-Thanksgiving in-store special

We got two!

(Another great online-only special at Office Depot: an 8.0 GB SanDisk Cruzer Thumbdrive for only $49.)

#2 Since there are usually only a handful of “the hottest” Black Friday items on hand at each store, many people are starting to camp out — forming a line up to 24 hours in advance!

As a result:
A) That’s taking Black Friday sales pretty seriously.
B) That means chances are not in your favor of scoring the “hottest” items, if you don’t stand in line.

#3 They say that it’s best to pick one particular store that will have the best deals that appeal to you. Then, arrive at that store very early and stick to what’s on your list.

However, my theory is… Black Friday sales events are much more enjoyable if you:
Pick the store that has the most variety of items you’re interested in.

That way, even if you don’t score that one big item you had your heart set on, then you’ll still have a good time scooping up other bargains that you may not have thought of, while still crossing a bunch of people off your list at the same time.

#4 The best deals are not necessarily going to be found at the Black Friday sales events themselves.

Case in point… the Wii that was all the rage this year was, in fact, advertised in a handful of Black Friday sales fliers. However, the price it was being sold for was no bargain. It was just a sales ploy to make you think… “If it’s in the Black Friday store ad, it must be a great deal!” Not true… I found the Wii available in stores for the same price it was advertised in the fliers way before Black Friday.

#5 And perhaps the best news of all… many consumer shopping experts say that the best deals of the season will actually be found several days after Black Friday, and closer to Christmas Day.

As stores try to maximize their sales for the year, they tend to mark things lower and lower as the days go by… all the way up to Christmas Day.

So if you can’t make it to the Black Friday sales (or you don’t want to brave the crowds)… have no fear. There are still plenty of great bargains to be had after Thanksgiving Day!


Which reminds me…

If you didn’t find it in the store, be sure to check online!!! The “online specials” were kind of the “secret deals” that the stores unleashed this year. Signing up for e-mail notices from individual stores and Black Friday sites was the key to big savings this year.

And, don’t forget about Cyber Monday… just 3 days away! It’s another great opportunity to take advantage of low-low prices on great gift items.

Happy Holidays, everyone.