Black Friday 2014: Guide for road warriors

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If the shopping surveys this year are correct, 30 to 50 percent of you who will shop during Black Friday shopping weekend will do so in stores. Whether you plan to shop later this evening or early Friday morning, keep a few things in mind to make sure your experience is successful, safe and fun:

Before you leave home:

Take another look at inserts: You have probably spent time scanning the pre-released ad scans online. Check the Thanksgiving Day inserts in the AJC for any updates or previously unreleased deals and doorbusters.

Take notes: Make note of the items on your shopping list that also require coupons, rebates or include a gift card with purchase. Use the list to remind you to gather coupons before you leave or have them accessible on your smartphone and to follow-up in-store on rebates and gift cards.

Make a map: Know in advance which stores you are going to visit and don’t get sucked into the other stores that will try to get you through their doors on Thursday and Friday. Plan which stores you will visit first depending on their opening times and what you want to buy. If you’re seeking a popular doorbuster, that store should be first on the list. Then map a sensible route to other stores that will save you time and gas.

Get the green: Decide on the method of payment you will use for your purchases. Leave everything else at home. For electronics, use a credit card with extended warranty. If you think the price may drop later, use a card with price matching protection. If you’re on a cash only budget, take only as much as you need to buy your items.

While you’re at the stores:

Arrive early: Sure, there may be some crowd reduction with people protesting Thanksgiving/Black Friday shopping. Yes, some stores have upped their inventory of certain items. But if you arrive at the exact time the store opens, you are too late. Arriving early gives you a chance to scope things out and acquaint yourself with procedures (if you haven’t already).

Know the store layout: Some stores, such as Wal-Mart, have posted store layouts online to help you  navigate your local store during the shopping events. If this isn’t available, arriving early will help. Last year, Target distributed printed store layout plans to shoppers waiting in line.

Stay focused: Black Friday sales are designed to get you in the store. Stores are designed to encourage impulse buying. Only look for the items on your list (because you HAVE made a list) and head for checkout lines when you’re done.

Use idle time: Be sure your phone is charged and use it while you’re waiting in line. Check the websites of your favorite stores for surprise deals that may pop-up at a lower price than those that were advertised in advance — and to do any price comparisons for the new deals you may see.

Put safety first: If you see a fight in Wal-Mart, walk the other way. If you make multiple stops, keep your packages in the trunk. If you’re alone, park in a well-lit area of the parking lot. Keep these and all the other safety tips your momma taught you in mind and you’ll make out fine.

Will you be out shopping on Thursday or Friday?  Tweet me what you see or shoot me an Email. Happy Shopping!

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