Planning Ahead for Black Friday... or Thursday

By: Jodi Baker Email
By: Jodi Baker Email

A growing number of retailers are starting Black Friday early, on Thanksgiving evening, to get a jump start on holiday shopping business. A handful will even open up before some get their Thanksgiving leftovers in the refrigerator.

Wal-Mart started the trend, announcing they'd be open at 8 p.m. Thursday. Target, Sears and Toys R Us followed suit. More will open their doors just an hour later, and even more at midnight.

As to whether the deals will be as big the night before Black Friday, blogger and savings instructor Nicole McDonald of Bellevue, says, "It really depends on what you're looking for. Some of the really big ticket electronic items, you'll probably be able to get them a little cheaper (Friday morning)."

She added, "There are some really great gift card deals that are only on Black Friday, where if you buy so much you get a bonus."

She suggests shoppers buy gift cards in advance for retailers where they know they'll be doing holiday shopping. When purchased at certain grocery stores, like Bakers or Hy-Vee, those purchases get discounts on gasoline. Shoppers get that benefit, while using the gift cards the same as they would use cash.

She cautions against going into Black Friday without a plan. "If you're not completely prepared with a detail list, it's very easy to overspend."

McDonald suggested starting by making a list of potential gifts. Then, do some homework. "See what the average price is. is a good place to start because they tend to be really competitively priced." Then, shoppers can make informed decisions about what really is a great deal and what is not.

Many of those deals will be available online Friday as well. "If they are a great deal, like a door buster," McDonald said, "it will probably sell out online just as quickly as it does in-store. The big difference is you can sit at home in your pajamas and not wait in line in the freezing cold for three hours."

Some still love the rush of getting up early and fighting the crowds for a great sale. In that case, it helps to come armed with information - perhaps going through the store a day in advance to figure out the layout. Wal-Mart has its store plan on the website.

"Don't take your kids. Have a shopping buddy. It makes it kind of fun, you can help each other out," said McDonald. That may mean dividing and conquering two different stores at the same time to get those door buster deals.

She added, "If you’re buying smaller stuff, get a reusable shopping bag. Don’t bother with carts because you’ll never make it through the aisle."

McDonald, a mother of three, teaches coupon and meal planning classes, in addition to running her blog out of her Bellevue home. For more of her savings strategies, visit the link below.

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