This year, about 147 million people plan to go shopping during the weekend after Thanksgiving, according to a recent National Retail Federation survey. The survey shows a slight decrease from last year’s 152 million who planned to shop during the same weekend.
Specifically, the survey shows that 71 million people said they would shop and another 76 million said they would wait and see what retailers have in-store this weekend.
“Though the Black Friday tradition is here to stay, there’s no question that it has changed in recent years; already there is a tremendous amount of excitement and anticipation surrounding retailers’ Thanksgiving and Black Friday promotions,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay.
Still, shopaholics everywhere are gearing up for a weekend marathon of purchasing Christmas gifts, necessities for their homes and other items that many retailers are marking down for the holidays.
To help beat the crowds and find the items on your shopping list, nearby Fairfax County and police provided these Black Friday shopping tips:
- Read the Ads: Check advertisements on Thanksgiving Day. Friday's papers may include additional sales. Get on retailers' email lists, and look for deals and coupons listed on their Facebook pages.
- Evaluate the Deals: Not all advertised items are great deals. Use several of Consumer World's pricing tools, such as the Price Checker to compare prices at many online stores instantly. If shopping online, find out the total price including shipping and tax (if any), and what the reputation of the seller is using BizRate.com or ResellerRatings.com.
- Research the Right Product: A low price on a lousy product is no bargain. Check websites where professionals evaluate products.
- Save with "Triple Plays": To save the most, combine the primary ways to save — buy items at a good sale price, use percent-off/dollars-off coupons offered by some stores to lower that price even more, and look for items that also have a cash back rebate.
- Be an Early Bird: Plot your route from store to store based on store opening times, and since quantities are very limited, arrive before the doors open. Send family members to different stores if opening times conflict.
- Beat the Early Birds: To plan for the real Black Friday, scope-out key retailers on Wednesday before Thanksgiving to learn each store's floor plan in advance. Avoid the crowds by ordering online since some Black Friday deals may be available on Thanksgiving Day or Friday in the wee hours.
- Check the Return Policy: Before buying, find out the store’s return policy. While many stores have extended their return deadlines into January, others are clamping down by imposing restocking fees on certain categories of items, or by using a blacklisting database or returns tracking system to deny refunds.
- Get a Gift Receipt: Make returns easier for gift recipients by asking the store for a gift receipt and include it in the gift box. Without a receipt, a refund may be denied outright, or may be limited to only an equal exchange, or to a merchandise credit for the lowest price the item has sold for in the recent past.
- Use the Right Credit Card: Certain credit cards offer valuable free benefits. For example, don't be pressured into entering into a service contract when you can get up to an extra year of warranty coverage free just by using most gold or platinum credit cards. Ask your credit card issuer what length warranties qualify for an extra year of coverage, if any. Some credit cards also offer a return protection guarantee (they will refund the purchase price within 90 days if the store will not), or a sale price guarantee (they will give you back the difference if an item goes on sale within 60 days of purchase).
- Save More with Price Guarantees: The bargain shopping process does not end with a product purchase. Keep checking the prices of the items you bought. Since many stores offer a price protection guarantee, you may be entitled to get back some additional money if the seller or a competitor offers a lower price before Christmas.