Monday, November 7, 2011

Get fit for the big shopping day with this Black Friday bootcamp

 	Black Friday, the official start of the holiday shopping season, means long lines of shoppers start to gather in the pre-dawn hours, such as this crowd at a Best Buy store in Brooklyn two years ago.

Black Friday, the official start of the holiday shopping season, means long lines of shoppers will start to gather in the pre-dawn hours, such as this crowd at a Best Buy store in Brooklyn two years ago.

The countdown to Black Friday has begun. With less than 21 days remaining, it’s time to start working out the fundamentals so that you can make the most of the post-Thanksgiving hysteria.

Retailers are already announcing their one-day special promotions and some have noted that doors will open earlier than ever, extending the hours you will need to fight crowds and wait in long lines.

But all this Black Friday hype doesn't necessarily promise bigger and better deals. There’s still lots of work that needs to be done to prepare and tackle such door busters.

Here’s what you need to know before you go:

Strategy is key. Braving the cold and crowds of crazed Black Friday shoppers with little to no preparation is an easy way to get burned out quickly. Plan ahead and map out an ideal shopping route with destinations based on the best discounts as well as locations within a close proximity to multiple stores for easy access to the deals.

City dwellers can purchase bus tickets to the popular Woodbury Commons Outlets or head to Long Island where shopping malls are abundant. Review store circulars ahead and call the stores to find out how many of each door-busting item will be sold to not waste time as most are limited in quantity.

Both Amazon and Target already have pages on their websites dedicated to Black Friday specials, so you can study their offers well in advance.

And don’t forget to dress in layers and fuel up with food for the long day.

Keep a list close. As part of your Black Friday strategy, a detailed list is essential for tackling the deals. Jot down all the product names and model numbers for quick reference when racing against masses to the store shelves.

Above all, make sure you stick to the list, because it’s easy to fall for alluring sales on products you don’t need while buying more than you budgeted for.

Practice negotiating skills. Black Friday deals seem pretty cut and dry, when in fact there’s much more to the offer than what meets the eye.

Many stores have spruced up their lowest price guarantee to match competitors — and some even throw in an added percent off. Those who don’t do their homework will miss out on savings.

Sears and Home Depot, for instance, promise to match competitor prices and even extend an extra 10% discount, while Bed, Bath and Beyond guarantees to meet offers available on

For quick reference while you're on the go, download either the RedLaser or ShopSavvy apps, which feature a bar code scanner to provide instant price comparison for nearby brick and mortars as well as online stores.

Buddy up. If you’re waiting in long lines, it’s nice to have a place holder when a bathroom break is needed; or a snack runner when late night or early morning munchies strike. Plus, each of you can focus on grabbing specific items to double chances of snagging limited quantity deals.

Surf the Internet for even more savings. Most people don’t shop on Black Friday for the atmosphere, unless your idea of a good time is waiting in long lines to battle deal-crazed shoppers at 3 a.m.

Luckily, most merchants now offer their special sales online with the added incentive of free shipping. E-Retailers also have a larger quantity of inventory so you run less risk of items selling out by shopping online.

There are a surprising number of retailers who offer additional discounts. So before you check out, search for online coupons and free shipping codes from sites like

Don’t give up. Whether you overslept or got stuck watching the kids, don’t fret; there are still plenty of opportunities (perhaps even better opportunities) to find huge discounts after the shopping extravaganza ends.

Cyber Monday, held on the Monday following Black Friday, will feature additional door busters available at online-only merchants with popular deals on electronics, appliances, and toys.

Free Shipping Day, scheduled for Dec. 16, gives you more time to save and shop bargains released later in the season. 


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