While Black Friday sounds like a day to dread, as anyone who watches the news now knows, that's what retailers like to call the Friday after Thanksgiving. We're not sure if it really is the biggest shopping day of the year anymore, but it is certainly the most crowded. Typically, our advice would be to stay home, because who wants to ruin the fun of shopping with long lines and aimless crowds, but lately stores have added enticement to get customers through the door on that day, so we have compiled a few bits of advice to make your shopping venture more enjoyable. Nobody should attempt serious gift buying this Friday without a strong strategy.
- SHOP EARLY. This would seem to be obvious, but this week we mean really early. Lots of stores are opening as early as 8 AM, and offering specials and extra discounts that will expire after normal opening hours pass. Some daring stores are even opening at Midnight on Thursday for the truly intrepid, so check Thursday's newspapers for special hours. It's worth it to set your alarm, and we know you're going to fall asleep early from the Turkey anyway. The other reason to get a head start is because most stores use Black Friday (and the entire month of December, really) as a license to mercilessly overwork their staff. The earlier you get to the store, the less tired and more helpful your service will be.
- MAKE A LIST. Sounds obvious too. How often do you actually do this? It's not a day for browsing.
- SHOP FOR YOURSELF. Lots of clearance will start on Friday, but don't buy anything you wouldn't have wanted at full price, and don't buy anything that isn't as good as the best things in your wardrobe. Our Sample Sale rules apply here very well
- GET GIFT RECEIPTS. Always ask. Always. Assume that any gift you give is going to be returned, and why make things complicated for someone you thought enough of to give a gift to in the first place? If the store doesn't offer them, than take your receipt, cut out the price and tuck it discreetly in the box. At least they will have the date and transaction information to record the original sale. if you think this is tacky, think how tacky an argument with a salesperson can be.
- STAY HOME. Why are we so grim? Maybe we have worked too many Black Fridays to get excited about it, but we keep getting emails from online retailers reminding us of special offers that will start at 12:00 AM on Friday and last for exactly 24 Hours. Free shipping abounds that day. If you know exactly what you need to get, why fight the crowds when you can sit at home and click away while you watch all those show your Tivo has been saving?