For some people, the idea of waking up at 5 a.m. the day after Thanksgiving to battle mall crowds is about as appealing as Tofurkey. But for others, even in the age of Cyber Monday and free shipping, it’s all about the hunt.
“Every year we see an increase of people turning to online shopping, but with Black Friday you still get lots of crowds,” says Andrea Woroch, a consumer and money-saving expert for Kinoli Inc. “There are people who like to find those door-busting deals, and sure enough, there are still great deals to be had out there.”
That said, even Black Friday die-hards can learn a little from their tech-savvy counterparts. Here are Woroch’s top tips for shopping smart in the midst of retail madness.
Have a plan
“One of the most important things you can do is plan ahead and find out what the deals are going to be across several different stores,” says Woroch. “Let’s say there’s a huge discount on a TV at Target — call ahead and ask how many they have in stock. Map out a route, or go to a mall where there are a variety of stores.”
Hit the road early
You’ll want to set the alarm for a disturbing hour not just for the deals, but to ensure a leisurely day. “It pays to be out there early because the door-busters will be limited in quantity. The earlier you shop, the more time you have to hit retailers and feel like you can get lunch. That’s important — you should also enjoy the crazy holiday shopping frenzy.”
Take advantage of price-matching
“Remember that big merchants like Sears, Home Depot and Wal-Mart are really beefing up their price-matching guarantees. They’ll meet or beat a competitor’s price. Have your smartphone with you to download and present barcodes that cashiers can price-match while you’re at the store.”
Load up on apps
There are a ton of apps out there to help you shop savvy. Woroch recommends Amazon’s free Price Check app — which allows you to scan barcodes and compare them to in-store prices — and Sale Saver, a supercalculator that computes the actual price of an item after that additional 20 percent off, sales tax and coupons. But the gold standard is Coupon Sherpa, which synchs with your GPS to find paperless coupons, which cashiers can scan right off your phone.
Only buy what you need
“Retailers are already out there offering deals,” says Woroch. “They want to create a sense of urgency — but they’ll offer that 40 percent off again. Do your research, know how much things cost and take advantage of a deal only when you need it.”