“Black Friday” is the infamous term for the nationwide shopping sale held the day after Thanksgiving. For many, ominous images of mile-long lines of people waiting outside stores at 2:00am, mass hysteria when the doors finally open, and empty shelves minutes after are just a few reasons why some shoppers stay far (far) away from the malls that day. Fear no more, this year social media tools will let you navigate through the craziest of shopping days. This article will provide a few simple tips and online resources to help you survive the battle of Black Friday.
1. Get prepared
You would never go into battle without having a plan; it’s the same logic for shopping on Black Friday. Before you brave the crowds, look towards the Internet first. With discount ads being printed as early as a month in advance, you have plenty of prep time. There are countless websites created specifically for Black Friday deals. Major retailers also post deals on their sites—In some stores, you can order items online and pay the Black Friday price, then pick them up at your local store. “Black Friday has evolved from a shopping holiday into a strategic, social event,” said Brad Wilson, creator of BlackFriday2011.com, which is a great source for pre-released Black Friday ads for major stores. Shoppers find the latest holiday shopping news, tips, and printable coupons. I recommend making your shopping list and then looking through all the ads to change your list according to what is on sale or not. Planning ahead will save you from wandering aimlessly around the mall.
2. Bring all your tools
The tools for conquering Black Friday are few but plenty. The first tool you must bring is all the coupons and deals you found online and in the newspapers. Some stores like to get forgetful on the discounts they advertised, so avoid a surprise at the checkout bringing all the ads and printouts with you. Secondly, most retailers have better return policies if the item is purchased by credit card instead of cash, so bring the plastic along. Last but not least, bring a shopping buddy. With Black Friday being a chaotic and stressful event at times, going in a pair or group will make the day go without a hitch. Having a shopping buddy is a great tool to have, especially when the checkout lines have 2 hour wait times, because you can plant your partner-in-crime in line while you do your rounds. By the time you’re done with your purchases, your buddy will have advanced considerably in the line and you can return the favor by letting them do their rounds while you wait in line.
3. “There is an app for that”
Put away the scissors and coupons – Black Friday shopping has been updated. With the huge popularity of smart phones and social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare, this year’s Black Friday is likely to be the most social media-savvy to date.
With an app to help users in everything from losing weight to finding love, it’s not a surprise there are apps specifically designed to help shoppers rustle up deals on Black Friday. DealNews’ Black Friday App, for example, compiles confirmed and leaked ads, with the option to save deals to a shopping list. You can also scan an item’s barcode with the Shop Savvy Barcode Scanner and you can compare prices for that product. PriceGrabber also helps you locate the lowest price for whatever is on your wish-list. Major retailers also have created apps for Black Friday like Best Buy, Toys R Us, Target, and Wal-Mart.
Some retailers partner with Facebook to offer special discounts and offers to users who check in to stores using Facebook Places. For example, last year checking in to JCPenney via Facebook (or Foursqure) got you “$15 off a $75 purchase or $10 off a $50 purchase,” according to NY Daily News. Twitter’s popularity has grown exponentially since its start and retailers have taken notice. Many big retailers and companies will be tweeting deals from their accounts. Follow tweeters like @BlackFriday or @BFads, or look for updates on deals from specific retailers like @Amazon, @BestBuy, @ToysRUs, @MacysInc, @Gap, @WalMart, @Target, @JCPenney, and you can also try using hashtags like #blackfriday or #blackfridaysales. “Overpaying is just not an option in this economy,” adds Brad Wilson and I very much agree. So this year, I say go forth and conquer Black Friday and let social media be your weapon in the battle of savings.