Avoiding black eyes and empty pockets: How to navigate this year’s Black Friday chaos

By Tamar Mosby, Staff Reporter

Every deal-hunter’s favorite holiday, Black Friday, is approaching.

On Black Friday, shoppers are able to purchase things that may normally be expensive and even things that are moderately priced at a discount.

While this nationwide event is helpful to shoppers who need certain items at a discount, it can also cause a lot of stress and can bring out the worst in people.

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Here are some things that you should avoid this Black Friday and some tips that may help you navigate the chaos a little bit better:

1. DON’T: Go to stores right at or before they open

Unless you plan to buy an item that is highly likely to sell out quickly, you should try to avoid waiting outside of stores before they open. 

Stores that have large crowds waiting for the doors to open run a high risk of shoppers getting injured or into fights. Every year after Black Friday, there are stories on the news of customer and employee injuries due to crowds storming into the building when the doors open. 

DO: Check ahead of time to see what hours the store is open for Black Friday sales. If it opens at 6 p.m. Thursday and sales continue through Friday, 1 a.m. or 2 a.m., are good times to shop as the crowds have typically slowed and the lines are much shorter.

If the store opens later, it is a good idea to wait a few hours after opening because while it still may be very busy, your chances of getting shoved or hurt by a crowd to get inside are lessened. The pandemonium from the very beginning of the night will also have died down a bit.

2. DON’T: Leave your purchases in someplace visible through your car window

When you go shopping and drive from store to store, try not to leave the items you purchase in a very visible spot that can easily be seen through your car window. 

Many individuals unfortunately use Black Friday as an opportunity to steal from unsuspecting shoppers and a lot of this is done by checking cars in parking lots. 

People walk through parking lots and check to see if car doors are unlocked to take what is inside. More experienced thieves may know how to get into your car even if it is locked.

DO: Double check to see if your car is locked and keep your purchases in less visible areas.

Checking your car is locked before you go inside will prevent theft from individuals who go through parking lots and steal from unlocked cars. 

If you hide your purchases in non-visible areas, such as the trunk, this may prevent more experienced theft from occurring because they aren’t able to see what you have inside of your car. 

It would even be helpful to bring a blanket or sheet to drape over your items if you’re having trouble finding a concealed area to place them.

3. DON’T: Come into a store with no idea what you’re looking for and no budget

Coming into a store full of discounts with no idea of what you want to buy is probably the easiest way to get stressed out this Black Friday. 

When you aren’t sure of what you want to buy, you usually end up aimlessly wandering from section to section becoming more and more overwhelmed by the endless amount of options. 

When this happens, you usually aren’t paying close attention and you miss out on deals. Also coming into a store full of discounts with no set budget will leave your pockets very empty, which is ironic considering Black Friday is marketed as a way.

DO: Make a list before hand of things you are interested in buying. This will make your shopping experience more organized and less chaotic. 

By making a list, you’ll know exactly which departments you should go to in crowded shopping areas and you’ll have a better idea of stores you want to visit.

Doing this will also make it easier to look up deals on each item beforehand. After making your list and checking deals, try to settle on an amount of money you are comfortable spending for the day and stick to it. 

4. DON’T: Fall for fake discounts

Do not purchase things that are not on sale for a good deal. Many times, stores use sales promotions like “Buy One, Get One 50% off” and large price signs that read “GREAT DEAL” to trick customers into thinking that they are getting more bang for their buck when this is not the case. 

Certain items are also priced differently online than they are in store or have very restrictive terms and conditions. These discounts are another way you can leave Black Friday with empty pockets.

DO: Check the prices of items before Black Friday and see what kind of deal you’d really be getting. 

You could also check to see what the price of your items would be during another time of year because sometimes items can be purchased at a different time with an even lower price range than Black Friday. 

Many stores have “lowest price of the season” sales at different points in the year, where you can get Black Friday-level deals without the added stress. 

Also make sure you are reading the terms and conditions of every Black Friday coupon you have and make sure the discounts you see online aren’t strictly for website purchases. 

Doing these things will help you know what to expect when you go shopping on Black Friday and keep you from running into any unpleasant surprises at the register.

5. DON’T: Purchase items you could normally buy any day of the week

Black Friday is a day where you can buy items that might normally be out of your price range at a discount. So, why spend your money on things you could easily purchase on a regular day? 

If you aren’t in need of a particularly super expensive item, then it is completely fine to splurge on regular items, but if you want to buy something big, Black Friday is usually the best day to do it. 

During the year you may not be able to afford these particular items, so take the opportunity that this day of discounts presents.

DO: Buy technology such as televisions, smart phones, tablets, gaming systems, computers and speakers. 

These are normally things that are insanely expensive to get on any other day, so make sure you start saving your money to buy them while they are on discount. 

This will help a great deal if your buying presents that will likely increase in price before Christmas comes. 

Staff reporter Tamar Mosby can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @mosbytamar.

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