The day after Thanksgiving is the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season, commonly known Black Friday. The holiday season is a crucial point for most retailers with 30 percent of annual retail sales occurring between Black Friday and Christmas. In fact, 74.2 million people shopped on Black Friday alone in 2015.
Maximizing holiday shopping and controlling spending
While holiday shopping can often result in great deals, it can also be a waste of time and money if you do not have a strategy. To ensure your clients maximize their holiday shopping and get the best deals to avoid disrupting their financial plan, share the following easy tips.
1. Know what to shop for and when
There are different deals throughout the entire holiday season. Depending on the day, different categories are a better buy than others. Strict quantity limits and long lines, can make many big ticket items difficult to acquire on Black Friday. Many people may choose to wait to visit the stores or even purchase their items online to avoid the chaos of shopping during Thanksgiving weekend. By creating a list of gifts to purchase early, you can subscribe to those store’s newsletters and receive alerts when deals are coming up and still save a lot of money. You will often even receive a discount simply for signing up. Don’t worry, you can always unsubscribe after you purchase the gifts to keep your inbox clean.
2. Do your research
When you are doing your research, there are several key factors to consider. First, you should pay attention to when stores open and when deals are occurring. Many stores will not only have deals happening on different days, but on different times of the day as well. Be sure to sure to keep track of these times, especially for your “must-have” items.
I also recommend reading up on the stores’ quantity limits, particularly for any big-ticket items. Some stores only require 1-5 items in stock when advertising a deal. If that is the case, it is very difficult to obtain the item. On the other hand, some stores offer guarantees, ensuring that if they run out of a product in the first hour that they will provide rainchecks for the future dates.
Finally, most stores have pretty generous return policies; however, some stores may not allow you to return it afterward depending on the item. You must also keep in mind the length of the return window. Many store have 30-day return windows, meaning the recipient may not have the opportunity to return or exchange the item if you purchase it too early or give it to them too late. Be sure to double check policies and warranties before making any kind of purchase.
3. Map your route
In the previous tip, we discussed the importance of knowing when stores open. That plays a key role in mapping out your shopping route. If you are planning on hitting several stores on Black Friday, it is important to plan a well thought out route. Think strategically about where stores are located and what time deals become available. This is also a good time to start prioritizing stores. For instance, if two stores on your list open at the same time, think about which store’s deals are more important to you, and hit that store first.
4. Shop with a team
Admittedly, I may be a little biased on this tip, as I have always shopped with my mom and sister. However, there are some key benefits of shopping with multiple people. For starters, things can be particularly chaotic when a store first opens or when they have large deals. It may be difficult to find a parking spot or a cart, which is where having a group is beneficial. The driver can drop others at the door to work on finding carts or locating deals while the driver finds a parking spot. In addition, you often need to stand in a line for the deal you hope to purchase. If multiple deals start at the same time, it is helpful to have several people so you can stand in different lines. Finally, holiday shopping can be a long, tiring process. Having the extra support of your companions can help keep up your stamina and mood.
5. Bring the advertisements
Once you get to the stores, you do not want to leave the advertisements in the car. You can use these to help locate specific items. Most deals are specific to a certain brand, color, model, etc. Therefore, it is useful to have the advertisement handy to ensure you are actually getting the right item. There are few things more frustrating than waiting in a long check-out line and finding out your item is not on sale.
In addition, the advertisements can play another important role in the check-out line. Many stores will price match their competitors’ sales. Keep in mind: it typically has to be an exact match for the store to honor price matching and not every store will price match.
6. Be brand wary
When it comes to holiday shopping, there are often deals for lesser known brands. Especially if you are gifting an item, make sure you are purchasing well-respected products — especially for the more expensive items. A bad product is never a good deal, regardless of the price. Look for items from brands you know and trust. If there is something you want from a brand with which you are unfamiliar, take a few minutes to do some quick research. This will help cut down on returns and make your gifts highly appreciated.
7. Get gift receipts
Be courteous to the people for which you are purchasing and provide gift receipts. There a variety of reasons that someone may choose to return gift, and without a receipt they many only receive a fraction of what you paid in store credit which is a waste of your money. By simply requesting a gift receipt at check-out, you ensure that your hard earned money will not be wasted and simplify the process for the recipient. Additionally, getting gift receipts can be difficult or time-consuming after the initial purchase, so be sure to ask at the beginning of your transaction.
8. Do not get too caught up in the deals
Several years ago when people were first starting to make the transition from DVD to Blu-ray players, I was on the hunt for one for a gift. After striking out at several stores, we finally found a good deal that was still in stock. After missing out at the first few stores, we were overjoyed to find some options. Unfortunately, my mom was a little too overjoyed. When we were loading the car up, we discovered that my mom bought no less than 10 Blu-ray players. A day or two later, my mom came to her senses and returned eight of them. She kept one for herself and gifted the other. Luckily, my mom kept her receipts and the store had a lenient policy. However, this is not always the case.
It is important not to get caught up in the deals and make impulse purchases. Make a list of all the people for which you are purchasing ahead of time and keep track of your purchases for each person. Also, set a limit on how much you are going to spend and stick to those limits. This will ensure that you do not get too carried away once surrounded by deals.
9. Build in a break during long days of shopping
Depending on your holiday shopping schedule, you may be shopping for multiple hours at a time. Large crowds, little sleep, and lots of time on your feet can be a dangerous combination for even the most seasoned shoppers. Be sure to schedule out some time to take break. Whether this be stopping for a cup of coffee, sitting down for meal, or even breaking at home for a bit — make sure to take care of yourself. A few minutes of rest and relaxation can make your shopping endeavors much smoother.
10. Bring your holiday spirit
This last tip is often forgotten about but is the most important in my opinion. When you are out scoring these great deals, be sure to keep the holiday spirit alive. Many of the retail workers are missing out on time with their family to accommodate your shopping trip. Be patient, kind, and respectful to everyone you encounter while holiday shopping and respect those around you.
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