Black Friday, the mother of all discount days, will soon be here. Shoppers prime their strategies, store managers psyche up their employees, and cashiers stand ready at the registers to ring up carts filled with Christmas wish lists.
The day after Thanksgiving has a long tradition in the world of retail. However, the expression “Black Friday” has its origin in the 19th century world of investing. On September 24, 1864, gold prices plummeted, panic ensued, and the term took root. It resurfaced a century later byPhiladelphia newspapers using it to describe intense store crowds. Eventually, it described what we know it as today: the time of year when retailers start making profit, or go “in the black.”
As you head into the malls and surf online this holiday season, here are a few tips and strategies to help make your gift-buying productive:
First of all, regardless of where you shop, have a game plan ready. This may be a given to some, but those shopping on the fly may get disappointed very quickly if they aren’t prepared. Those with an agenda grab what casual shoppers might have loved, had they prepped themselves.
- Top off the tanks before shopping begins: traffic can be a bear, plus every second counts when shopping, and taking a moment for gas can cost you that precious gift.
- Park further away from the store: it’ll be a hike to the store’s entrance, but consider that once you’re done, a car parked closer would be dealing with shoppers walking to and from their car behind you as you try to pull out, other cars perched on the side with their blinkers on are anxious to take your spot, and you’ll have that much more parking lot to traverse as you leave.
- Pack a kit if you “camp out” the morning before stores open: bring a goodies bag: a magazine or book to read, the store’s sales circular, a book of Sudoku, maybe even a small juice or water to hydrate you for all the running around you’ve got ahead of you.
- If you have a mobile device, keep aware of in-store ads posted online.
- Find out a company’s holiday return policy and hold on to your receipt. Keep a folder of holiday gift purchase receipts so they’re not lost.
- Most websites will have an option to order over the phone or some alternative to using your credit card over the internet. Caution is king when shopping online.
- Find out shipping costs, times. and any promotions on free or discounted shipping (i.e., buy and save on shipping)
- Find out of free gift wrapping is available: it conceals the gift and saves you time and labor later.
Just a few simple steps toward getting the most out of your holiday shopping season can ease the holiday burden and make you feel like one of Santa’s little helpers. Happy Shopping!