Black Friday Shopping Tips

For some, there’s nothing like the rush of getting a great bargain on Black Friday.  For others, they cringe at the traffic and the lines and the early hours. Some live for it, and some tolerate it. But, if you’re smart, you can make the most out of the busiest shopping day of the year. Growing Up in the Valley has some great tips to help as you plan your day-after-Thanksgiving shopping spree!


Start Early.

It used to be that shoppers didn’t know all of Black Friday deals until the ads came out in the Thanksgiving Day newspaper. Now, many of the ads can be found online (some even as early as October!) Go online to get a head start. Check out, or for a sneak peak of what to expect.  For many loyal customers, many of the stores will release their Black Friday deals as early as Wednesday. Beat the crowds and see if your favorite stores will be offering discounts earlier in the week.


Price Check.

If you’re going after one particular item (electronics, especially) do some research on what is a good deal and who has the best prices. Check the cost of your item now, and see if you’re really saving all that much on Black Friday specials. Some websites such as, and will compare prices across mutliple retailers. If you’re not saving all that much buying then vs. now, then save yourself the Black Friday rush! Another great tool for shoppers is the BuyVia app, which allows your to search local deals on a specific item and also find any available coupons!  Want to be alerted if a price on a certain item drops? Check out You’ll be alerted when there is a change in pricing.


Sign Up for Alerts.

If you have a favorite retailer, go online and see if they offer a newsletter for their customers. Sometimes, you can be alerted early of specials that are coming down the line. Check out their website, Facebook or Twitter pages and start following them! Many offer exclusive previews of their Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals and/or special rebates for consumers on their email lists.


Check Reviews.

You may be getting a flat screen for $89 bucks … But, is it a piece of junk? A low price on a lousy item is no bargain. Many retailers such as, and let buyers review products bought on their website. If you’re going after an electronic item, take a minute to check out several tech sites or even Consumer Reports for information on what is good and what isn’t.


Price Match.

Some stores, such as Walmart, will match prices offered in other stores. Check out each store’s policy, and save yourself some time running across town or sitting in traffic if they will honor a deal from a competitor’s ad.


Beware of Mail-In Rebates.

It’s always important to read the fine print. What sounds like a great deal in an ad, may require a bit of extra work on your part. If a cell phone is offering a $100 mail-in rebate, make sure you save receipts, original packaging and pay attention to dates. Ask a representative in the store what the rules are so you don’t get stuck out of time and out of money!  In the same regard, many items that may sell out on Black Friday will allow you to purchase a ticket and have the item shipped to you. Make sure you read the fine print. Some of these tickets require you to go online and fill out shipping addresses or a store for pick-up. Make sure you know if you’re getting the exact same product at point of sell-out, or if you’re getting something of similar/equal value. Double check shipping dates for the product, to make sure the item will make in time to be found under the tree!


Take Cash or Credit Card.

We all remember the headlines from last year, where Target became victim of one of the largest security breaches on Black Friday.  If you carry cash, you’re safe from these types of scams. (Just keep the cash close to you and don’t carry unnecessary amounts…) Shopping with a credit card vs. debit card could limit your financial liability in case of fraud. If your debit card is compromised, your whole checking account could be at risk. But, if you’re shopping with a credit card and fall victim to fraud – it may be easier (and cheaper!) to recuperate any stolen funds. And, as any time when shopping, keep your purse close to you and your wallet zipped up in your purse. Don’t flash your cash around, if you’re shopping without the plastic. And, be sure to lock your car in and out of stores. People on Black Friday will have hundreds of dollars worth of merchandise in their car, and thieves know it!


Set a Budget.

You made a list of all the items you are on a mission to get. But, what happens when you get into the store and find bargains on things you never thought of? It’s tempting to take advantage of all the deals, in all of the stores. Set a budget for yourself so you don’t over extend yourself financially. Setting a budget may keep you coming home with extra throw pillows, smelly candles and a fancy new gadget that you may not really need. You could also leave your credit/debit card home and take only cash. When you’re out of money, you’re out of money!


Check Return/Exchange Policies.

If you’re buying for others, make sure you know a retailer’s exchange or return policy in case the shirt doesn’t fit, or the electronics don’t work. Be aware of any restocking fees, shorter return deadlines or any other terms and conditions. This could really determine where you choose to shop, and where you choose not to shop. This is especially important when shopping online, or buying electronics. Know before you buy! And remember to ask for a gift receipt if you’re shopping for other people. This will make it easier for them to return the item easily, without hassle.


Don’t Give Up!

Many people become discouraged when they arrive at a retailer and find that they have missed out on their favorite deal. Have the store call around to other locations in the area and see if they have any in stock. Ask them to hold it, if they will. Just in Southwest and Central Virginia, we have multiple Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Target, malls, and other stores. It never hurts to go back the day after Black Friday to see if someone changed their mind! In all of the Black Friday madness, things can get moved out of place, people can change their mind at the check-out or return something for a better deal they found elsewhere. Go back the day after and see if there are items in the “Go Back” carts, or see if the mess has been cleaned up and there’s a spare deal lying around.


Be Careful.

Last but not least … Be careful out there! There are some folks who will do anything for a bargain, including punching, shoving, yelling, etc. No deal is worth getting a black eye over. And, try to be patient when driving and parking. Be on the look-out for those not paying attention in their cars. Keep your belongings close to you and your purchases locked up. Don’t read the newspaper ads while trying to navigate through mall traffic, and try to make sure you shop with a friend if you’re standing in line in the wee hours of the morning when it’s still dark out. Have fun while shopping and try to make it a great day! If you follow some of these tips, you should have an easy day of knocking out that Christmas list. And, don’t forget — treat yourself, too!

Tracy Fisher

Tracy Fisher is Growing Up in the Valley's head designer. She has been a part of the publication since March 2012. She is the proud mother of Charlotte, 6. She also eats too much chocolate.
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