8 Black Friday Shopping Tips To Make The Most Out Of The Sales
Anyone can ace Black Friday shopping with this gameplan.
Black Friday shopping isn't for the faint of heart. We love shopping, sure, but early mornings, crowds, and long lines can be difficult, especially the day after you stuffed yourself with sweet potato casserole and (a few extra pieces of) pumpkin pie. However, we have tips to get you in and out of your Black Friday shopping trip successfully and without losing your mind. Follow these eight guidelines and you can have your holiday shopping wrapped up in one day: Friday, November 23. Now, you just have to work on your own "treat yourself" Christmas list.
1. Sign up for Black Friday Sale Alerts
Newsletters, apps, social media—stay in the know by signing up for alerts on and following your must-shop stores for any Black Friday announcements. While some stores like Target announce their sales even a month ahead of time, other favorites like Sephora keep the details hush hush until a week in advance. The number one most important thing you can do while you wait is stay informed and alerted, so you'll be ready to plan once you get the info.
Target has a Black Friday annoucements page set up to alert on ads and hours, but so you're not checking it every day in October, sign up for the newsletter there, too. Sephora also has a page ready to go. At Macy's you can sign up for the newsletter and get the app. Staying updated on your favorite stores has its perks before and after Black Friday, too. Just last year, Ulta surprise annouced a huge sale before Black Friday, letting savvy shoppers get a head start on the discounts.
2. Make a Prioritized Plan of Attack
Once you have the scoop on the Black Friday sales at various stores, you can start starring the must-visits and crossing off the ones you won't need. But don't just make a list of all the stores you have to hit and the items you need; rank that list according to importance, so you know where to go first, second, third…. For example, if your sister is absolutely dying for this new holiday makeup palette, find where it's available and then where it's at the best discount. Then, you know you can hit, for example, Sephora first, the brand's brick-and-mortar store second if needed, and then circle if for Cyber Monday shopping if you can't get ahold of it.
After you rank by important gifts, prioritize by the number of gifts you can get in one store. This is where you'll see Nordstrom, Target, Macy's, and other major retailers. Finally, literally map out your journey so you're not heading all the way across the mall for one store, and all the way back for another. With these things in mind, your shopping battle plan will be airtight.
3. Set a Budget and Stick to It
If you're anything like me, you always end up spending way more than you anticipated during the holiday season. Between getting new dresses for holiday parties, stocking up on the holiday makeup launches, and all those gift exhanges you forgot about, the season isn't always budget friendly. Plan ahead for success by itemizing everything you're going to want or need, and then starting to put aside money for your Black Friday shopping budget. There are loads of iPhone apps that can help, and there's always a good old fashioned Excel spreadsheet. Know what you want to spend, what you expect to spend, how you can find your discounts (this is where your plan of attack comes in), and leave a little wiggle room in the budget so you aren't stretched too thin.
4. Stock up on Discount Gift Cards
Boost your discount by purchasing gift cards ahead of time to stores you know you're going to shop. Sites like Raise sell gift cards at a markdown, and who doesn't love a sale-on-sale? right now, the site has markdowns on Sephora, Best Buy, JC Penney, Victoria's Secret, and more major retailers. Even if you don't use them on Black Friday, they can be applied toward Cyber Monday, more holiday shopping, or (let's be honest) your own winter fashion spree.
5. Bring Your Evidence
This is a just-in-case failsafe for Black Friday shoppers, especially for bigger ticket items. Last year, for example, Walmart offered a free $300 gift card with purchase of an Apple iPhone X or iPhone 8 (fingers crossed it has an updated version of this sale in 2018), and it advertised this in its flier and newsletter. Bring a print out or a screenshot of that deal, so if there's any question, you have the proof. It can't hurt. The same goes for Instagram or Facebook feeds showing deals, just make sure your phone with all this evidence is charged!
6. Double Up!
Find an incredible deal and don't be afraid to purchase multiples! For example, last year Nordstrom marked down a Kiel's luxury beauty set from $66 down almost 50 percent off. That item can be perfect for your Secret Santa, your work gift exchange, your mother, your dog walker, and loads of people. Shop smarter, not harder.
7. Don't Forget Freebies
Look, no one has to know that incredible makeup bag or store gift card came out to exactly zero dollars; it's perfect for a gift item, especially for those peripheral people on your list. When you're making your shopping plan of attack, note any stores that are offering gifts with purchase that can be applied to people on your list. Even if you don't know who yet, grab them, because you'll always have a present or two you forgot. (Whoops, sorry office gift exchange!)
8. Know Exchange Policies and Get Gift Receipts
Gift receipts are always a good idea because you never know what items you pick up might end up back out the door as a present. Also beware of non-returnable items and know the window you have to make an exhange or get a refund for items you're unsure about. Some retailers switch up their return policies for the holiday season, so if you're not clear, ask.