Use Tech to Conquer Black Friday
For the truly dedicated Black Friday deal hunters, Thanksgiving marks the start of a shopper’s frenzy. With sales starting earlier and earlier, those elusive “doorbuster deals” can be as hard to get your hands on as a housecat that senses its ½ price vaccination day at the vet. Whether you’re a seasoned Black Friday pro, or considering joining the fray this year, your computer or Smartphone can help you plan your attack and find the best deals before you set foot in the store.
Preview the Ads
There are several sites that post the ads well in advance of when they’ll show up with your morning paper. Check out blackfriday by bradsdeals (http://blackfriday.bradsdeals.com/ads) for full color images from all the major retailers. Use the ad previews to compare prices and the store hours tab to plan your day. If Walmart has a doorbuster deal you want and they open at 8pm, start there and hit Target after since they open later.
Plan your strategy
For a wealth of tips on how to make the most of your limited time and resources on Black Friday, check out the articles offered by dealnews.com (http://dealnews.com/black-friday/) whose motto is “where every day is Black Friday.” Their articles will give you the insider’s scoop so you can shop like a pro, even if it’s your first year.
For example, their posting “The Facts Behind 14 Black Friday Myths” (http://dealnews.com/features/The-Facts-Behind-15-Black-Friday-Myths-/510992.html) reveals that you don’t necessarily need to camp out to get a great deal. They did a survey of prices in 2011 and found “70% of in-store Black Friday deals were also available online for the same price – or less!” It provides links to a list of stores that price match, tells you what you should hold off buying to snag an even better price (for example, prices on toys hit rock bottom in the 2 weeks before Christmas), even gives tips for shopping online (such as, don’t wait for Cyber Monday – most retailers offer their best prices starting on Thanksgiving day).
Leverage your connections
Register for your favorite store’s loyalty program, “Like” them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, or download and use their mobile shopping app for access to exclusive discounts, coupons and previews of deals not released to the general public.
According to dealnews.com (http://dealnews.com/features/10-Ways-Black-Friday-2011-Will-Be-Different-/514607.html), “many stores now offer dedicated shopping apps, Twitter feeds, and Facebook pages where followers are rewarded with exclusive discounts and coupon codes.” Lowes, Sears and Target have offered special privileges to members of their loyalty program or holders of their credit card, from “sneak peaks” of what will be on sale to actual advance access to the deals themselves.
Walmart is also offering exclusive store maps to shoppers that “Like” them on Facebook or download the Walmart Mobile app. Armed with a store map you can send out scouts to divide and conquer, ensuring a better chance at snagging more of those limited-supply items.
Use your Smartphone to save some cash
More and more shoppers are using handheld electronics, particularly Smartphones, to price compare items in a retail store with what’s available online or across the street. Some call it “showrooming” – checking out a product in a “brick-and-mortar” store and then buying it online for less.
Retailers aren’t blind to this practice and in order to encourage shoppers to buy it now many are improving their price-matching offers. For example, through December 24th Target will match a price of the same item online, even from competitors such as Amazon and Walmart. Best Buy is offering a similar short-term price matching offer with a few additional exceptions (see store or website for full details).
This means that if you take a few moments to use a price comparison app such as ShopSavvy (http://shopsavvy.mobi/, for iPhone, Android and Windows Phone) and find it for less at a major competitor, you may actually be able to snag a better price without having to leave the store.
Good luck, brave shoppers. But more importantly, Happy Thanksgiving!
Photo used by permission Beth Rankin