We all know Black Friday marks the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season. For decades, that has meant lining up outside retail stores at 2 a.m., fighting massive crowds and waiting in long checkout lines – all in hopes of scoring the best doorbuster deals.
But a lot has changed in recent years. Thanks to factors like a global pandemic, inflation, supply chain challenges and a looming recession, Black Friday shopping may look and feel a little different this year. As a shopper, that means your strategy might need to look different, too.
Get prepared to score some of the season’s best deals by reading our Black Friday survival guide below.
How Will Black Friday be Different This Year?
Despite all the changes in our economy, Cyber Week (shopping done during Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday) is expected to see over $37 billion in online spending. In fact, it’s estimated consumers will spend over $9 billion on the day after Thanksgiving alone!
It’s all about the deals. Searches for “deals” grew by over 2,300% last year as consumers are trying to make their funds stretch further during the holiday season.
Longer discounts. In an effort to increase sales and reduce inventory, retailers kicked off holiday sales earlier and extend them until the end of the year.
Spread out spending. Shopping is starting earlier so consumers can spread out the costs that come with the holiday season, with some consumers having begun shopping in October.
6 Tips to Save Big on Black Friday
Wondering how you can make the most of Black Friday shopping? Here are six holiday shopping tips to help maximize your savings.
Start shopping early. According to recent reports, many of the biggest U.S. retailers aren’t waiting for Black Friday to start offering massive holiday discounts. In response to a surplus of inventory and fears of continued inflation, stores like Target, Walmart and others have been offering early Black Friday sales online throughout the entire month of November.
For certain items on your Christmas shopping list, it may pay to start deal hunting right now. You might find early sale prices will be similar to those offered on Black Friday or Cyber Monday – without the rush and limited inventory. And if you find a lower price later in the month, you can always take advantage of the store’s return or price-matching policy.
Search online first. The internet has come a long way since the early days of Black Friday shopping. As a result, more and more holiday shopping deals can be secured from the comfort of your own home. This is especially true after the COVID-19 pandemic, when many brick-and-mortar retailers were either closed or looking for ways to keep crowds low.
When searching this year’s Black Friday ads, check to see which deals are available online and which are in-store only. You may find that you can still score a great deal on that new TV without fighting the typical Black Friday crowds.
Check store schedules. If you’re looking to brave the crowds for in-person shopping on Black Friday, you may be surprised to learn that shopping hours could be more limited this year. While the start time for Black Friday sales had been creeping earlier and earlier for more than a decade, a long list of retailers are now adjusting sale start times – especially those that once kicked off sales on Thanksgiving Day. This year, some of the nation’s largest store chains have already decided to close their doors for the holiday. That means you may not have to choose between epic deals and enjoying a turkey dinner with your family.
Compare prices. To squeeze the most savings out of your Black Friday shopping, don’t limit your search to one or two stores. Many retailers will have sales on the same items – so it pays to shop around. Visit websites like BlackFriday.com to view all the upcoming sale ads in one place. And if you’re shopping online, consider using a price comparison tool like Honey or Capital One Shopping. These online browser extensions scour the internet for the best prices and can even apply coupon codes automatically before checkout.
Consider cyber week. To get the very best deals, you may want to extend your search beyond Black Friday. Be sure to watch for sales during the entire “cyber week”. According to Adobe’s 2023 shopping forecast, you’ll get the best deals buying electronics on Cyber Monday, televisions on Black Friday and computers on Saturday.
Do your homework. When shopping in-person on Black Friday, it pays to plan ahead. For example, many stores have limited quantities on the best doorbuster deals. So check each retailer’s ad or website to get an idea of how many items will be in stock. This can help you prioritize where to start shopping. Additionally, retailers may have special Black Friday store layouts, placing popular items throughout the store in various areas. This means your prized TV could be in a clothing section or in an aisle next to the dog food. If this is happening at your store, check in advance to learn where your item is located.
How to Stay Safe When Shopping Online During Black Friday
There’s no doubt that shopping online is the faster, more convenient way to take advantage of Black Friday sales. But that also makes the biggest shopping day of the year a prime target for cyber crime. Here are some tips on how you can stay safe while holiday shopping online.
Only shop on reputable sites. Any page that lets you enter credit card information should start with https:// and include a locked padlock icon in the address bar. If you download a mobile app to shop, make sure it’s legitimately run by the retailer – criminals can lace copycat apps with malicious malware that could charge your card without consent.
Be skeptical about “too-good-to-be-true” deals. An email from an unfamiliar sender with a “special offer” sounds tempting, but it could infect your computer with viruses or malware. Don’t click on links or open attachments from individuals or businesses you don’t know. And if an unfamiliar website offers a rock-bottom deal, resist the urge to jump on it. The site might only exist to snag your personal information.
Avoid making purchases using public Wi-Fi. Open connections can give hackers direct access to your personal information. The big concern with public Wi-Fi is that your information could be available to anyone on the network. Read more in this blog post about 5 Things to Avoid When Using Public Wi-Fi.
How to Stay Safe When Shopping In-Store on Black Friday
If you decide to brave the Black Friday crowds, here are some quick shopping safety tips to keep in mind when you’re out and about.
Be a picky parker. Getting the best Black Friday deals may require shopping before sunrise. To avoid making yourself a target for theft, be aware of your surroundings and park in a well-lit area as close to the entrance as possible. If your car is broken into, here’s what you should do next.
Drive with caution. Whether entering or exiting crowded parking lots or ramps, cars can pull out suddenly and people can appear from seemingly nowhere. Slow down and minimize distractions in the car to give your driving your full attention. This is one way you can avoid a fender bender in a parking lot.
Keep gifts out of sight. If you’re heading to multiple stores on Black Friday, be conscious of where you store gifts in your vehicle. If possible, clear room in your trunk and don’t leave gifts or bags with valuables on your front seat.
Protect Your Assets with Great Insurance
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