How to Prepare for Black Friday

The Battle of Black Friday is upon us!

Don’t go in unprepared. Instead, consult this guide for how to survive prepare for the busiest shopping day of the year.

Makin’ a List & Checkin’ it Twice

Remember why you’re braving the madness that is Black Friday to begin with — to purchase items that you want or need. You’re likely not going just because there’s nothing better to do. So make a list!

You might be shopping for yourself and that’s fine. But if you’re buying merch for family and friends this holiday season, now is the perfect time to create your shopping list. Even if you don’t end up crossing everything off on this day, you’ll be well ahead of the game. I mean, did you know that Christmas is less than four weeks away from the busiest shopping day of the year in 2014?

Research

You wouldn’t search for buried treasure without a treasure map, so don’t leave the house without first determining what’s out there. It used to be stores would wait until Thanksgiving to reveal their Black Friday deals, but most release their circular early. Others’ get leaked weeks in advance.

A couple of websites have made it easy and collected all of the ads in one place: www.BlackFriday.com and www.TheBlackFriday.com.

If you’ve made your list in the previous step, start logically and consult the retailers’ ads likely to have those products. If you’re looking for a television, check Best Buy’s deals. You get the picture.

And of course, determine when these stores open. Some deals could go fast, so you don’t want to be “that person” who shows up six hours after your prized item sold out in six minutes. This tip goes hand-in-hand with the next.

Doorbusters

Keep that ad out because you might be swayed by doorbusters.

Doorbusters are items retailers make available for free, at a significant discount or include as an attractive up-sell to a predetermined number of shoppers. As you can imagine, this would require you to be among the first in line, which really forces you to plan your expedition. A doorbuster might create more urgency to shop at a particular store first or help you decide to avoid it until after the initial crowds have waned.

And now we’re getting into the strategy of Black Friday shopping; it truly can be a game. And like any game, it can be mastered. The first step is to prepare. So make that list and scan those ads!

Safety First

Look, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention anything about safety. There’s going to be a lot of people on the roads, roaming parking lots and in stores. People are buying a lot which means they’re packing cash and credit cards, not to mention walking around with brand-new, expensive valuables. There will be opportunists, so always be aware of your surroundings.

Lock up your cars (including when you’re driving) and always have your keys ready as you approach your car. If it’s dark, park in a well-lit area. Bonus points if you can spot a security camera or security tower nearby.

And it’s recommended not to shop with your kids. People have died been injured on Black Friday being run over by shoppers and shopping carts. Risking the health of your child isn’t worth saving a percent off anything. And not having to tow your child is one less thing for you to worry about.

For those who can’t avoid bringing the kids, be strategic with them too. Prepare them for what lies ahead. If you already know that you’re not buying them anything, make sure they understand that before leaving. If they need a magazine, a game or a snack, make sure that gets packed with that shopping list. But again, it’s best to leave them at home.

That said, it’s much better to shop with a friend than go at it alone, so ask someone other than your children to tag along, especially if shopping at night.

Smart, too, is ensuring your cell phone is charged up in case of an emergency.

Be Nice to the Associates

Imagine for a moment…

You’ve enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner with family (and was lucky enough not to work on Thanksgiving) and after a long day enjoying each other’s company, it’s time to get ready for work at 11 p.m. And when you get to work, it’s a zoo. Your store is trashed, you’re exhausted and you’ve got to help everyone and their mother find items on their shopping list.

So when you’re that person who’s asking for help, be courteous. Keep in mind that this sales associate likely hasn’t slept since the night before and has a very trying shift ahead. With a little sympathy, you’ll restore that person’s hope in humanity, I promise you.

Let It Go

Yep. That reference just happened. And I haven’t even seen the movie. I digress.

Inevitably, you’ll stop at a store that has sold out of what you wanted. But don’t despair because they will restock! And truth is better deals are still ahead.

That’s right. While Black Friday is regarded as the best shopping day of the year, Thanksgiving Day is closing in on the crown. Moreover, there are even better sale prices to come if you’re paying attention.

So save that list and live to fight another day.

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Mark Schaub

My name is Mark and I’m a mall-aholic. As a native Orlandoan, I’ve been visiting them since I can remember. I’ve also worked in a couple and consider myself a self-appointed expert. There’s been a lot of change when it comes metro Orlando’s mall landscape, and I’ve taken it upon myself to chronicle it. Each mall has a story to tell, and having graduated from the University of Central Florida and double majored in journalism and radio/television, I feel I’m best equipped to make those stories come alive here at Orlando Mall Guide. So whether you’re a local or a tourist needing a shopping break from the attractions, I’m your hookup.