Black Friday is one of the busiest shopping days of the year. Every year thousands of shoppers flock to area malls and shopping centers in the wee hours of the morning attempting to get the best deals on their holiday gifts. Because shopping with the crowds and sales can be confusing, setting a "Black Friday" shopping strategy can add some organization to the chaos.
Visions of Black Friday shopping may call to mind frenzied shoppers beating down the doors of area stores to get heavily reduced prices at the register. This day of bargain basement deals certainly will bring out scores of people, but there is a way to manage the mayhem.
* Make a shopping list. Think ahead of time about what to look for. Knowing what will be bought can help shoppers determine which stores to visit. It helps to only choose one or more stores at which to shop instead of traveling all over and getting caught in traffic.
* Preview ads a week in advance. Many stores will start advertising their Black Friday hours and some sneak peaks at sales a week or more in advance. There could also be some "spoiler" Web sites that leak information about Black Friday sales. Shoppers can know what's available and plan their shopping accordingly. Also, some stores have "rules" to follow, such as wristband dispersal or a numbering system, for shoppers to avoid crowds rushing the doors.
* Start saving early. While deals are to be realized on Black Friday, that doesn't mean it's wise to blow the entire budget on this day alone. Save months or weeks in advance to be prepared for shopping this day. Set a limit on what is to be spent -- heading home after the money is gone.
* Get rest. Set an early schedule for Thanksgiving revelry so that it's possible to head home early enough to rest. Those who plan to do Black Friday shopping should head to bed early enough, considering many sales begin at 4 a.m.
* Eat a hearty breakfast. Shoppers should be sure to eat breakfast so they'll have enough energy to survive the morning shopping.
* Pack a lunch or snack. Chances are fast food restaurants and food courts will be mobbed on Black Friday. Avoid some of the crowds by packing food in a bag and bringing it along. It will save time and money. Why not make a sandwich of that leftover turkey?
* Wear comfortable clothing. Crowded stores tend to be hot and chaotic. Dress in layers so that outer layers can be removed. Try to leave bulky coats at home because they can be a nuisance while shopping. Shoppers should also wear very comfortable shoes for long hours of walking.
* Be sure to know stores' return policies. Even the best-laid plans may result in one or two gifts that need to be returned. It pays to know what stores will take back discounted items bought during Black Friday.