Black Friday is starting a lot earlier this year, namely on Thanksgiving Day at many retailers! Technically, it’s the calendar’s fault. (I swear this isn’t hipster nonsense.) There are 26 shopping days between Thanksgiving (November 28) and Christmas (December 25) this year, six less days than last year. But if you’re like me and start shopping on December 23rd, that’s 2 shopping days, pretty much the same as those in the past… *deep sigh* Also, Cyber Monday falls on Dec. 2 this year so shoppers are really going to need to be wary of shipping and handling transit times in considering holiday purchases. That leaves 22 days between Cyber Monday and Christmas.

mad dash for cheap presents

I’m not going to stress too much if you promise to do the same! Here are some tips on tackling Black Friday (mostly brick-and-mortar shopping i.e. actually visiting a store) and Cyber Monday (online shopping) sales!

  • Do your research! Sometimes the flyers are released or even leaked weeks in advance so you have plenty of time to make comparisons between what different retailers are offering. This also will stop you from making unnecessary purchases by determining exactly what you want in advance.

  • Buying apparel? Try on items for size and fit well in advance. You may not have the luxury of time in trying to figure out if an item fits you while everyone, shoppers and staff alike, are scrambling!

  • Limited quantities really means limited quantities. If there is only a certain amount of an item, it doesn’t mean the amount *in stock*; rather it means the amount that the retailer will sell at the promotional price. These items are typically the first to go and on Thanksgiving/Black Friday, these are the items that people are most likely camped out for.

  • Be wary of timed deals. Some goods are on sale for a limited time so be aware of start and finish times. Set multiple alarms if you have to. On Cyber Monday, also be wary that you may be on a time limit for checking out at a promotional price.

  • If you are buying media (books, CDs, DVDs, Blu-Ray discs, etc.), make sure you ensure that the UPC matches the sale item. There are sometimes different UPCs for the same “thing.”

  • Make a plan or travel route for what stores you are going to hit. Overestimate how much time you will spend at each to allocate for a worst-case-scenario. For Cyber Monday, this can be replicated with multiple browsers, tabs, and windows open!

  • Buyer’s remorse? Return it. Simple. Just because you snatched something up at an awesome price does not mean you’re obligated to keep it or gift it. Don’t forget that holiday purchases have extended return periods too!

  • BONUS: If you’re a Discover, Mastercard, Citibank, or Chase Freedom credit card holder, you may be in luck and can avoid a hassle by shopping in advance of the Thanksgiving/Black Friday/Cyber Monday. They all offer some form of price matching or price protection if you can prove it with a sale flyer. This may be more difficult with proving Cyber Monday sales since Internet histories don’t really count as proof. Your miles may vary on this and it also depends on whether the retailer will cooperate so it’s best to know well in advance what the credit card and retailer’s policies are, especially when Thanksgiving/Black Friday/Cyber Monday specials may be an exception. Read more about this here.

Whether you are planning on camping out on Thanksgiving at Best Buy, spending all of Cyber Monday on Amazon to make the most use of your Prime subscription (protip: if you sign up for an Amazon Prime trial now, you’ll have it through the holidays and this includes FREE 2-day shipping… this is especially useful since they raised the purchase minimum for free super saver shipping from $25 to $35) , or waiting until December 23 and pulling two all-nighters to do Christmas shopping, I wish you the best of luck this holiday season in all your shopping and gifting endeavors!

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