Thanksgiving comes again this week, and with it Black Friday, the start of the holiday shopping season! Is it us or do deals seem to start earlier and run longer with every following year?
Last year, retailers earned $7.9 billion on Black Friday, a rise of 18 percent from 2017. Seventy-seven million shoppers got up on Friday and did their buying in-store, and more than 81 million shoppers spent nearly $7 billion online on Cyber Monday, the most money ever made on the new digital holiday.
We’ve put together a list of shopping tips to help you brave the crowds, find better deals and save money, because if you want to really get the best deals, you have to shop like a Black Friday-Cyber Monday Ninja.
1. Sign up for emails
Most nationwide retailers have websites and email newsletters, and a surprising number of smaller shops have them, too! Make a list of the stores you want to shop at, visit each website and sign up for their email newsletters and all the discounts within! Do this ahead of Black Friday, because it can take time before the emails start to generate, and you want to allow ample time to get added to the list.
2. Do your homework
Online retailers can update specials and remove or add new items at anytime during Cyber Monday. Get deal alerts from Black Friday websites that also track Cyber Monday sales, sites like: BFAds, BestBlackFriday.com, DealNews, TheBlackFriday.com, and GottaDeal.com.
Have you heard of the app and chrome extension, Honey? If not, do yourself a favor and download/install it before you start shopping online. While you shop, Honey will find every working promo code on the internet. Not only is this beneficial during the holiday shopping period but also a great way to save money throughout the entire year.
3. Prioritize your shopping list
Staying with your hand-written list of items you need to buy, group them first by store, then by order of priority. As you start your shopping, this puts “must find” items at the top so you can first focus on finding them. When you get there, first walk to that department to find the item you want.
4. Get social
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest feeds of your favorite retailers are a great way to find out about deals and promotions. Retailers will send special alerts to followers for Cyber Monday discounts and deals
5. Shop with a friend
Work together in busy stores to sweep up multiple items on a list. One of you hits the electronics section to pick up a video game, you can concentrate on navigating your way through the toy aisle.
6. Create a budget—and stick to it
Cyber Monday sales are designed to get you spending money on the retailer’s website. Impulse buying can quickly turn your highly structured gift budget into oatmeal. Plus, because it’s easier to spend more when using a credit card, a budget can help keep you disciplined. Choose a credit card that doubles the manufacturer’s warranty or one where you receive cash back on every purchase, then pay it off before any interest accrues.
7. Price check in the store
Amazon has an app that lets you scan items and compare prices with what the giant retailer sells them for online. With your shopping list in one hand and your phone in the other, do a quick scan to see if what you want is less expensive right now in the bricks-and-mortar store.
Remember, not every item you want will be on sale, so take a moment and see if you can find it lower somewhere else.
8. Check the cost of shipping for purchases or returns
Free shipping is just one more cool thing about some Cyber Monday deals, but make sure before you buy. Find out who’s responsible for shipping costs on exchanges or returns. For websites of retailers with walk-in stores, see if you can return items to a store to avoid shipping costs.
9. Don’t even try to price match
Most stores suspend all price matching policies on Black Friday. This includes Target, Best Buy, and Walmart. Don’t even attempt to match another store’s price.
10. Shop on Wednesday
Sometimes Black Friday prices are not always the lowest. Visit a store on Wednesday to find out if the price listed is the same as, if not lower than, what you will find in a couple of days. Go ahead and grab that item while you can. Wednesday is also a good chance to figure out the other items you want in the store and where they are stocked.
11. Bonus tip – stay safe from hackers while you shop
Our last tip to you this holiday season is to shop smart. Avoid entering your credit card information on an unsecured public computer, or public WiFi, and check out the website URL for “https,” not “http.” The “s” at the end signifies that the website is used for secure communication. Remember, we automatically enroll all Empeople members in fraud alerts, you will be notified if fraud or unusual activity is detected. Something worth considering, if you haven’t already, is setting up or adjusting your Digital Banking notifications for purchase alerts during this shopping period. This will help catch any fraudsters that might be mimicking your normal spending habits. If this happens to you, please contact us immediately.
For even more tips on how to get your head around all this shopping insanity, head on over to the official Black Friday website.