Making Plans for ‘Black Friday?’ Read This First

Holiday shopping is a huge event and it’s already begun. This holiday season, the National Retail Federation believes we will see a 2.8 percent increase over last year’s sales figures bringing the total to a whopping $465.6 billion spent nationwide through the holidays.

The day after Thanksgiving is known to both retailers and shoppers as Black Friday. The term “black” may sound a bit sinister. For some who avoid the stores on this day at all costs, the term is perfectly appropriate. The rush for a limited number of great deals can drive some shoppers to lose their manners. Why is it called “black?” It reflects the fact that big sales on this top shopping day can tip retailers into the black for the entire year. A handful of loss leaders to a limited number of shoppers can drum up enough excitement to keep the dollars pouring in all day, into the weekend, and throughout the holiday season.

The vast majority of Black Friday store ads will be posted online well ahead of time; so this can help you decide. Even though we are just over two weeks away, you can already view Black Friday ad scans for Costco, JCPenney, Kohl’s, RiteAid, and Sears among others. Check out my blog at to see my favorite Black Friday websites to see the ad scans.

If your plan is to buy major electronics, gaming systems, a new GPS, Blu-Ray players, appliances, or other big ticket items, you may do very well to fight the crowds. If, however, you don’t want to fight the masses, or your Christmas list doesn’t include the typical deals offered on this day, you’ll likely do better shopping from behind your computer screen – or at your leisure at local retailers.

Between you and me, Cyber Monday (The Monday following Black Friday) is much more my style than Black Friday. I’m not alone. The National Retail Federation reported the average shopper plans to do about 36 percent of holiday shopping online this year, up from almost 33 percent last year. Several retailers have already started offering some compelling ‘holiday’ deals – taking advantage of the online frenzy over discovering what retailers will serve up this shopping season.

The most exciting news for you and I is that the number of deals we’ve already been seeing marks a significant acceleration of pre-Thanksgiving activity. Retailers are fighting harder than ever to secure an early share of holiday spending and recognize that people are watching from their computer screens. This may translate into better deals than ever before for those who are savvy online shoppers.

Black Friday Highlights

Incredible deals at brick and mortar retailers are scant at this point. The big news so far is that retailers are starting Black Friday earlier than ever. Macy’s, Kohl’s, Target and Best Buy will open their doors at midnight rather than 4am as in years’ past. Last year, Toys R Us didn’t bother waiting for Friday and instead opened their doors to shoppers Thanksgiving evening. They will do the same this year; welcoming shoppers at 10pm. I expect other retailers to follow suit. I would imagine that many shoppers would rather stay up late rather than get up at 3am. Just plan on a post-turkey nap to refuel your energy for the night’s activities!

My biggest Black Friday tips…

The Black Friday frenzy can make it tough to make an informed decision. One trick is to look for the retailer’s return policy. If it has a 30-day free return policy, you can buy today’s deal and see if a better one crops up.

Don’t buy impulsively at the store if you cannot return the item. Make you mind up on your purchases ahead of time and stick to your plan. If you weren’t swayed by the deal when looking at it in the ad, don’t get caught up in the emotion of “missing out” when you see inventory levels dropping. It’s all part of the sales psychology. There will be other deals to be got this year.

Don’t feel like you must shop on Friday. If you don’t want to fight the crowd and either stay up late or wake up at an atrocious hour, wait for Cyber Monday and watch deal sites and large online retailers between now and then. Last year, I had more than half my holiday shopping done before Black Friday.

Most importantly…
Make sure you do not shop impulsively at the grocery store! Sadly, I have seen shoppers throw their grocery budget out the window during December “because it’s the holidays.” This can easily mean an extra $200-$400 LOST because of the desire to shrug off financial commitments. Families struggle throughout winter because of the desire for a month of supermarket shopping freedom. Please resist the urge to let your guard down. and your Sunday Grand Rapids Press coupons are a perfect way to add hundreds of dollars INTO your Christmas budget. We’ll be offering personal assistance throughout the rest of 2011 to anyone who wants to free up extra money for Christmas from their grocery budget. You deserve a blessed Christmas. With the right planning, you can enjoy great gifts, great food throughout the holidays, and plenty of money left over by the end of it all.

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