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How To Get The Most Out of Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Black Friday and Cyber MondayBlack Friday and Cyber Monday are two of the most popular shopping days of the year. Sellers are hard at work claiming the best prices in commercials, radio ads, online media, newspapers, fliers, and emails. While taking advantage of these sales promotions can land you some great deals, it’s important to be a smart shopper and come prepared. Some retailers have already made their Black Friday savings information available. Since it’s never too early to get ready, here are some tips fromBusiness Consumer Alliance that should make your shopping experience go smoothly.

Make a list (and check it twice) - Undoubtedly, there will be numerous offers and low price claims that will catch your eye during this time of year. It’s important to make a list of the items you want and prioritize them. Set a budget for how much you want to spend and stick to it. Focus solely on the deals that are limited to Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales. This can help combat overspending and spontaneous purchases of items that may be on sale but could be bought at another time.

Do your research - Utilize online websites such as TheBlackFriday.com or various retailer websites to preview sales. This will help you plan out the best sales offers.

Comparison shop - Look around and compare prices from several sellers. Don’t focus just on the price because some offers could be a better deal when the store offers free incentives such as gift cards with a purchase, discounts on accessories, or bundles. Plenty of retailers offer price match guarantees that can help save time and resources.Pricegrabber.com and similar websites, offers apps that let you compare prices on thousands of items. Be aware of sellers that inflate their “regular” price in order to increase the markdown and give the appearance that they’re offering a deal, when in fact there are no real savings offered. A few searches on the internet can yield big savings for those special items on your wish list.

Know your retailer - Anytime you’re shopping, it’s vital to check out the business. Business Consumer Alliance provides freereliability reports on businesses where you can read consumer reviews about a company and view complaint history. An internet search can also provide information on how a company interacts with its customers. Also, research the company’s policies for returns, exchanges, shipping, warranties, andlayaway. Knowing the company’s policies beforehand will allow you to know what options you have if anything goes wrong. 

Check for coupons - Many sellers offer special coupons, bargains, and incentives if you follow them on their social media pages, such asFacebook and Twitter, or sign up to receive email offers. This can give you more bang for your buck and increase your savings.

Plan your route - Now that you have your bargains mapped out, your coupons, and you’ve checked out the retailer, it’s time to plan your shopping trip. Consider how long your shopping trip can take. Sales attract crowds of people, so lines will be longer and waiting times may be lengthy.  Consider going to a mall or shopping center to visit several different locations to cut down on gas and travel. If you havegift cards or gift certificates, this may be the perfect time to use them and save a few dollars in the process. Smartphones have several apps that offer exclusive savings, help navigate sales, and keep track of purchases so consider loading these applications on your phone prior to shopping. Have your ads and coupons ready to go and consider using a credit card to make purchases. Credit cards often provide protections under federal laws to safeguard consumers if a problem arises.  

Get your receipt - Make sure you obtain and keep a receipt for all of your purchases and compare them to your balance to make sure you’re not overcharged. Also, ask for gift receipts for items you plan to give. Receipts make it easier to make returns if necessary.

Don’t settle for a more expensive item - The purpose of taking advantage of these types of sales is to take advantage of a good deal. Often times the items sold as door buster deals are limited in quantity and they routinely go quickly. Avoid the temptation to purchase a similar higher priced item if the savings are not equally comparable.

Avoid additional debts - Remember that budget you worked out before shopping? Don’t let it go bust by opening up additional credit cards while shopping. It’s common for retailers to offer additional savings if you sign up for credit offers. That extra 10% or 15% off may be enticing, but it can also lead to more debt. Also, retail inquiries on your credit can impact your score for the year to come. Some store cards also have high APR’s and low credit limits that may cost you more if you don’t pay the balance off by the due date. Stick to your budget and enjoy the savings.

Cyber Monday precautions and tips - Many of the tips for Black Friday listed above also apply.Online shoppers should also consider shopping sites that are secure. You will recognize these websites by their secure https:// before the URL.  Again, using a credit card while shopping online gives an added safeguard when you purchase and makes it possible to dispute charges if items do not arrive, are not as advertised, or some other issue applies. Read the fine print and policies posted on the website so you are aware of shipping, return, warranty, or refund conditions. Know the seller and purchase from a trustworthy source. Only shop websites that post a privacy policy and take time to read it to see what information is shared and to protect your personal information. Also, be aware of spoofed websites that may look like a popular retailer but aren’t.  And lastly, although you may run into some very good deals, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Business Consumer Alliance would like to hear about your shopping experiences. We invite you to visit our website and write a review about your experience. Happy bargain hunting!

About The Author:

Nicole Pitts is a Senior Business Analyst for Business Consumer Alliance.  She has been with the organization for 11 years and specializes in report writing, business evaluation, and investigations.  Nicole corresponds with businesses regarding complaint trends and provides suggestions to help them alleviate problem areas that may cause concern. She also conducts advertisement reviews, reports on government enforcement actions, and assists the government agencies in obtaining information. She enjoys cooking, reading, and spending time with her family. Nicole can be reached by email at npitts@businessconsumeralliance.org.