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Black Friday Survival Guide

WEB-EXCLUSIVE: Turn this hectic shopping day into a fun one.

Shoppers in South Coast Plaza on a Black Friday

Time to stuff your belly full of delicious turkey and cranberry sauce, then head over to the nearest retail outlet and wait for the clock to strike 12. We speak, of course, of Black Friday: the holiday that keeps your wallet out and causes a few bruises along the way.

We know very well the frustrations that accompany this holiday. Let’s face it: Waiting in line with throngs of other sleep-deprived people isn’t anyone’s idea of a nice end to Thanksgiving. But, there are ways to survive.  

Here are some tips to make your Black Friday a little bit better:

Know your prize. It is a common mistake of Black Friday shoppers to go without a list of stores or items to search for. If you have a thorough list of exactly what you want to get, your shopping will be all the simpler. If you want to take this principle a step further, you can also map out which items are in which stores. That will give you an even better sense of direction and keep you time-efficient.

Make sure to prioritize. What’s worth more to you: that new HD TV that’s marked 50% off or those shoes which are only 10% off? The best way to prioritize is by highlighting the most important items on your list. If you want to be extremely organized, you can color code your list, highlighting the most important items in one color and the moderately important items in another. Go for the most important items in the store first and worry about the other stuff later.  

Don’t go before midnight to line up. You can’t truly enjoy a nice Thanksgiving dinner with your family if you’re planning your shopping excursion when dinner’s served. And going before midnight will cause all your Black Friday nightmares to come true. Every Black Friday shopper goes before midnight to storm the store upon its opening. On the other hand, if you wait, go have a good night’s sleep and eat a good breakfast the next morning, you will avoid the monstrous throngs of people and will have an advantage over the late-night stragglers because you will be fully alert and focused.  

Bring a posse. Black Friday is much more enjoyable when you have someone to talk to or someone to stand in line for you while you grab one last item. This doesn’t mean you and your group have to be attached at the hip, though. One of the best strategies is to divide and conquer.  

Be courteous to employees. We've heard horror stories of working retail on Black Friday. Try to imagine the shoe being on the other foot. Would you really want to serve throngs of angry customers at 3 a.m. after Thanksgiving? Plus, the employees are more likely to help you if you aren’t giving them attitude. A general Black Friday rule is to treat others the way you want to be treated. Yes, this includes the soccer mom that elbowed you in the gut for the last pair of Nikes.    

Make sure the deals you are going for will only be available in-store. After all, why deal with disgruntled shoppers when you could just as easily go online on Cyber Monday and get the same deals? True, for some it is tradition: fighting crowds at the door is only a minor inconvenience to these veterans. But to the beginner: Cyber Monday is faster, easier and doesn’t deprive you of sleep.  

Despite the potential drama, Black Friday can be both fun and satisfying for the educated shopper. Go in positive and informed and your Black Friday will be an experience you will want to make a tradition.

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