How to Survive Black Friday: Top Seven Tips

It’s the most wonderful time of year! No, I am not referring to the decline in temperature, the accumulation of snow or the loss of daylight. It is the time of year that bargain hunters yearn for most – you guessed it – Black Friday! When the magic of Christmas arrives a month early, bringing smiles and hope to budget shoppers everywhere. Beginning Friday, Nov. 28 at 12 a.m., stores in the U.S. will be flooded with generations of bargainers looking for the latest tech toy or house appliance and leaving aisles in shambles. But to get the most out of this money-saving marathon, shoppers must be prepared mentally, physically and financially – these days of deals are not for the faint of heart. To check out this year’s big-ticket items, click here.

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A recent study showed 47 per cent of Canadians will be looking for Black Friday deals this year. To get out of Black Friday trample-free (we mean that literally), we share our tips on how to properly prepare for midnight madness.

1. Shopping Crew: You may think that you can weather the outlet storm with any of your closest pals. Wrong. Be strategic while choosing your shopping group. Keep space in mind, no more than three people per car or four per van. You’ll need all the extra space you can get for the items you’ve purchased.

Keep in mind you’ll be shopping throughout the night and, between the crowds and the fatigue, you might get a tad grumpy. Stick with friends who will forgive and forget your less-than-cordial mood.

Also, you want to be with people who have similar interests to you so that you all feel like you’re getting something accomplished at once instead of twiddling your thumbs at the Nike Outlet store while Debbie searches for her husband’s newest football jersey. Like-minded shoppers are bound to be more productive as a group. Use each other to make the most of the stores. Have the fastest shoppers wait in that 45-minute line with a cart that you all add to instead of joining the line once you’ve all found your items.

2. Planning: Deal-finder Danielle Hogan recommends making a schedule ahead of time to get the most bang for your buck. “A lot of the big box stores have different items on sale at different times, so you need to build a schedule, so that you are at the stores at the right time. Map it out!” Yes, you read that correctly – different items at different times. Don’t be overwhelmed. Just go to each store’s website to find your key items and build from there. And when it comes to coupons, collect! Black Friday shopper Kathleen Fitzpatrick advises, “Collect coupons for the stores that you will spend a lot of time at. You can usually pair a coupon (e.g., 40 per cent off) with sale items and really clean up.”

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3. Timing: Canadians need to be in the U.S. for more than 48 hours to get the $800 tax exemption. So plan accordingly. Fitzpatrick recommends driving up early on Thursday. “Shop from Thursday evening to Friday morning (don’t worry – the adrenalin will get you through), check into your hotel on Friday (request early check-in) and sleep the day and night away. Wake up on Saturday morning and drive home.” This way you will get back over the border tax-free.

4. Attire: Do not try to look cute. This is a shopping marathon, not a runway show. Bring your comfiest shoes, and Hogan even suggests a change of clothes to freshen up part way through.

5. Eat. Don’t forget to bring snacks and don’t forget to eat them! It’s easy to get caught up in shopping and forget about sustenance, but you’ll need the protein to carry on.

6. Slow down. You might think that you’ll never find that one discounted item ever again but if you wait it out, you might see it for cheaper in another store. Think hard about your purchases before making them.

7. Be careful with impulse credit card sign-up. Many stores will offer credit cards for bigger savings. Be careful. Many do not offer online payment so when you get back over the border the only way to pay off the credit card is through snail mail. To get the savings, pay off the card immediately in store to avoid the hassle.