How to Make the Most of Black Friday Deals

black friday shopping tips
Image via Flickr/ Roberto Verzo

Way back when I was a career woman, I worked as a women's apparel retailer for a department store. One of my responsibilities was to plan for our sales events, including the after-Thanksgiving Sale, which is traditionally one of the biggest shopping days of the year. And I can tell you from experience that there is tremendous pressure on retailers to deliver fantastic sales promotions that will drive customers into the store and get those customers to open their wallets and spend their hard-earned dollars!

So why are there such great deals on Black Friday every single year? It's because retailers are up against these promotional sales figures each year, and the only way to re-create the sales volume that they captured last year is to come up with new deals to bring the customers back again. So if you know how to shop these deals, you can turn this promotional cycle into a budget-saver!

Click through to learn 8 Black Friday Shopping Tips.

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Image via Momof6

Start with a shopping list

Make a list of everyone that you intend to purchase a gift for this holiday season. Assign a dollar value to each gift so that you have a budget to work from as you are preparing your plan of attack. I start by creating a shopping list for each of my children and write down all of the things that they are hoping to find under the tree. (OK, I might omit a few things like the pony and Macbook Air they have requested.) These lists give you a starting point as you start leafing through the post-Thanksgiving flyers.

WalMart Black Friday Ad
Image via BlackFriday.com

Check out the ads

You don't need to wait to read the newspaper on Thanksgiving Day to see what's on sale. Simply head over to BlackFriday.com to see advance previews of all of the hot sales circulars right now. You can check out the ads from Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Kohl's, Macy's, and many other retailers!

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Macys at Christmas
Image via Flickr/ Genista

Organize your list by store

Now that you've checked out the ads, re-write your shopping list by store. List where you plan to shop and what their key deals are. Make a note of the time that each store opens because the hottest deals will sell out first, often within the first few minutes of store opening.

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Image via Flickr/ Alan Cleaver

Shop with a buddy

This is especially helpful if you want to grab more than one “door-buster deal” at a store. You and your friend can divide and conquer. It also helps to have one of you stand in line while the other shops and then switch. Sometimes it can take more than an hour just to get to the register to pay!

Online Shopping
Image via Flickr/ Keith Williamson

Make a plan — where to shop in store and where to buy online

Decide which stores you want to visit in person (at the “bricks and mortar” location) vs. where you will be better off buying the deal online. Last year, I waited more than an hour in a line at Old Navy just to pay for my after-Thanksgiving purchases when I could have purchased all of the same items online and received free shipping!

My rule of thumb is that if it is a super door-buster special deal, then you need to head to the store and be waiting in line before that deal time in order to have a chance of scoring the item at that low price. If you only plan on shopping for general items, like perhaps taking advantage of the $19.99 sweaters on sale at Macy's, then do it online and save yourself the trouble of shopping during the frenzy! And if you do decide to buy online, don't forget about using Ebates, Extrabux, or searching for online coupons!

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Image via Flickr/ dave416

Shop late or shop early or both!

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Things have really become crazy these last few years with many stores opening their doors on Thanksgiving Day. And some retailers, like Walmart, stagger their deals, offering some specials that begin at 6 p.m. Thursday, others that start at 8 p.m. Thursday, and still more that start at 6 a.m. Friday. These are usually the best deals of the day — specifically designed to drive traffic into the stores first.

You have to decide if you want any of these specific deals that are offered only at these times because they will sell out within minutes of the time listed in the flyer. If so, set up your shopping strategy around those deal times.

WalMart Black Friday Bundles
Image via BlackFriday.com

Pay attention to promotional “bundles”

Know that some retailers (such as Walmart) work with manufacturers to put together special promotional “bundles” on items that are available only at that retailer while supplies last. For example, Walmart often does this with gaming systems, — offering a unique bundle that includes the system as well as 1-3 games for the same price that other retailers are selling the game system alone for, which makes it a great deal! So you have to pay attention to the details as well as the price!

Target TV Ad
Image via Black Friday.com

Take advantage of deals on electronics

Black Friday is also one of the best days of the year to shop for electronics, so if you are in the market for a new TV, DVD player, video, or still camera, this is the day for you! Whether or not you actually intend to give the item as a gift!

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Do you plan on hitting the stores or are you going to shop from home this Black Friday? Or maybe skip the shopping frenzy entirely? We want to hear from you!

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How to Make the Most of Black Friday Deals

My name is Sharon and I am the busy Mom of six children ages 13, 12, 11, 10, 9, and 8. People often ask me "How do you do it?" I tell them that my key to success lies in planning ahead, with a whole lot of creativity and organization thrown in! ... More

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