Making the Most of Black Friday

There is no other way to describe shopping on Black Friday than to call it sheer madness. With crowds of people lining up outside stores before dawn, ruthless shoppers pushing and shoving to beat each other to the sales racks, and otherwise respectable mothers fighting over jewelry, dishware, and the hottest toys of the season, you’d think you dropped right into some sort of post-apocalyptic sci-fi universe. But no, it’s just the day after Thanksgiving (and the craziest way to kick off the orgy of consumer spending that will unfold over the next month). But whether you live in New York, Washington, Chicago, San Francisco, or anywhere in between, there are ways to take advantage of the killer sales happening on Black Friday without the hassle of the madding crowd. Here’s how.

For starters, avoid the opening rush. Instead of lining up at 4am, look for stores that offer midnight-madness sales. Often, less people are aware that these sales are happening (since they only occur at certain stores) so you may get the same great deals with a lot less hassle (plus, you should be wide awake following your post-tryptophan afternoon nap). By skipping the opening bell you may forego some door-buster deals, but you’ll also avoid a lot of stress (and chances are you can do without the crappy printer they’re giving away for free).

You can also make your life a lot easier by being discerning when it comes to choosing which stores you will visit. This pertains not only to the chains you decide to patronize, but the area you frequent. High-end shopping centers in heavily populated areas are likely to receive the lion’s share of visitors, as are big-name retailers like Best Buy, Apple stores, and large outlet malls. So consider giving your consumer dollars to local businesses that offer the same items. Call ahead of time to see if they’re willing to price match the chain stores and you may be able to get the same low prices with a lot less stress.

Finally, you can get more done by employing some help. You’ve no doubt heard of people paying others to hold their place in line (outside a store) starting at 2 or 3am so they can show up just before the doors open and avoid a wait. However, this is probably a waste of funds that could be put to better use on sale items. Instead, ask some friends or relatives to come along. You can bring a thermos full of coffee and camp out in front of a store, then spread out once you get inside to get all of your shopping done quickly (before the lines get too long).

Of course, there’s always online shopping to consider. With Cyber Monday following fast on the heels of Black Friday, you can opt to avoid physical shopping altogether. And even though many companies designate Monday for the beginning of their biggest online sales, some of them actually post lower prices starting on Friday to boost sales and get the jump on their competition. So if you really want to make the most of the biggest shopping day of the year, do a little research ahead of time to find out who’s offering what and how you can save a lot with the least amount of hassle.

If you need help navigating your way around the city while shopping, download one of mTrip’s US Travel Guides.

~ Sarah Danielson writes for RAC Breakdown offering the best in breakdown cover and car insurance guides.