Whether you partake in the Black Friday madness in-person or virtually, the best way to get what you need from the largest shopping day of the year is to be prepared. Here's how to create your Black Friday shopping strategy and stick with it.
First, create a list. Determine what it is that you are looking for, and what are the features you need in those products. Basically, do your normal product research that you would do when buying something, especially if it is electronics or appliances--two categories that tend to have a lot of Black Friday specials. Really pinpoint what it is that you want to buy. This is important because sales sway the decision making process; knowing exactly what you want and the features you cannot live without helps you make the best buying decision, sale or no sale.
Then, look at the Black Friday flyers and check out ConsumerSearch Thanksgiving week for the best and worst buys by store and some products. If you don't want to wait until they arrive, sites like BFnet.com published the flyers as they are leaked. (Don't be fooled; these leaks are strategic and there is usually a PR person behind them.) Are your picks listed in the flyer? If not, compare your model to the models offered. You may find a comparable deal and you may not. You can do this by looking at product reviews online.
Compare deals between stores, as well as the store price versus what you might pay for the same item online. Depending on what kind of shopper you are, you might opt to spend Black Friday morning in your PJs camped out in front of the computer instead at your local mall. In some instances, that same product my on sale now or discounted further during the second week of December when we tend to see another round of sales.
However, if the store is the only option, visit it prior to Black Friday for two reasons. One, you can map out or check out the landscape of your Black Friday doorbuster store of choice. And two, you want to be able to figure out whether the product will fit your needs without the defensive lineman tactics the frenzied Black Friday atmosphere elicits. Going the day before allows you the time to actually look at the product.
Finally, once you have made this plan, stick with it. If you tend to be an impulsive shopper, leave the credit cards at home and pay only with cash. This forces you to think about and weigh the importance of each product.
Also, there is no shame in spending Black Friday away from the shopping carts. Black Friday only kicks off the holiday sale season; there could be better deals in December.