Anyone preparing to shop on Black Friday is likely drowning in ads by now. Trying to figure out which stores open earliest, which offers the best doorbuster deals and just how to score them can drive a person to drink. But take some advice from the pros and you might find your stress level greatly reduced.
"The whole point of these Black Friday flyers is to get you in the door, and it's impossible to get to more than one store at once," says Christine Frietchen, editor-in-chief of ConsumerSearch.com, a site that collects and analyzes consumer product reviews. "Once you're in the store, the idea is to sell you more stuff that you may not really need."
Here are a few tips to avoid common Black Friday gotchas:Do Your Research
You're probably tired of hearing this, but never is it more true than on Black Friday. Some advertised sale prices are being compared to the manufacturer's suggested selling prices -- prices you'll likely never see, anywhere.
"Fifty percent off an inflated MSRP makes a 50%-off deal not as compelling," says Frietchen.
Remember Quantities Will be Limited
Retailers are not kidding when they say quantities are limited. Some stores get as few as four of the advertised doorbusters. If you're not among the very first in line, you're out of luck, and probably should have slept in.
Know just what you want to get for everyone on your list. Check Black Friday-focused sites like FatWallet, where you can search by product type, name, or model to get the best deal on exactly what you're seeking.
If the person on your list is dying for something specific, say a My Pillow Pet, don't let a deep discount on another item distract you. It's only a deal if it's on something you want, and it's the rare child who greets "it's just like the one you wanted," with squeals of joy.
When a gift is general and allows for some flexibility, take it. If someone wants a 40-inch HDTV, or just moved into their first apartment and needs to stock a kitchen, Black Friday is the perfect opportunity to get a great and useful gift for less.
Beware of Bundles
Do you really need everything in that digital camera bundle? Or did you just want the camera? Chances are good you can find the individual camera for less and you won't be stuck with a pair of headphones or carrying case you didn't need.
Don't Get Taken on Black Friday: How to Avoid Common Shopping Pitfalls