HOW TO: Shop on Black Friday

As the trees lay themselves bare and the sun tucks itself away earlier and earlier in the day, the faint silhouettes of the approaching holidays slip into view on the edge of the horizon. They promise the calm of cozying up with your family, content and stuffed with Thanksgiving fare. However, there is another holiday that looms behind Thanksgiving’s warm glow, promising great glory at a daunting (yet drastically reduced) price.

If you have decided to charge into the annual Battle of Black Friday, remember that wars are rarely won without strategy. Don your comfiest sneakers to guard your feet from catastrophe, set your early morning alarm, and arm yourself with your debit card. Prep your armor and consider these crucial factors to get the most out of your Black Friday experience.

WHAT : MAKE A LIST

This is perhaps the most crucial part of preparing for Black Friday. The bustling movement of shoppers, the bright plethora of discount tags, the inevitable air of disorder blankets even the most organized of sales–in all of the excitement, many shoppers are prone to make impulsive purchases. As tempting as it may be to take advantage of every deal that comes your way, you should always prep for your spree by creating two separate lists: one of the items that you need, and another of the items that you want.

I cannot count the number of times that I arrived home, set my bags down, and couldn’t help but think, “I still don’t have a good pair of black jeans. So why did I just buy three new sweaters when I can barely stuff them all in my drawers?” In order to avoid these sentiments (and the consequential spiral of shame that comes with being irresponsible with your finances) you have to prioritize. Even if you’re not typically inclined to spend frivolously, it is helpful to have an idea of which specific items you’ve had your eye on so that you don’t come home with pieces that you’ll only wear once or twice (and potentially regret forevermore).

Simply put, an item falls into the “need” category if you feel that your wardrobe is incomplete without it. Many basics, such as boots and jeans, fall into this category. A piece is also worthy of the “need” list if it would be too far out of your budget to purchase un-discounted at a later time, or if you have had your eyes set on it for what feels like an eternity (although this latter category can be bumped into the “want” list). Once you’ve crossed almost all you can off your “need” list, then you can explore the rest of your options guilt-free!

WHERE : MALLS OR STORES?

Now that you know what to buy, you need to decide where to buy it. While the idea of sealing yourself inside of a mall on Black Friday may seem daunting, the close proximity of the stores to one another is incredibly convenient for someone who wants to sample collections and deals from different brands and designers.

In addition to the fact that shopping at individual stores is likely to be a somewhat less hectic experience, flagship stores are also more likely to carry more diverse and unique collections than those available in malls. However, traveling from one store to another, depending on their respective locations, can be time-consuming; while some stores do offer early or late hours on Black Friday, there is only a limited amount of time in the day to get all of your shopping done.

This lost time can prove to be more valuable than one initially believes. Many stores may run out of stock of the items that you want, so utilizing your time wisely and getting to stores as early as possible is a necessity if you choose this option. In the end, this preference is personal but a necessary thing to keep in mind while crafting your route.

WHO : ALONE OR WITH OTHERS?

It can be helpful to have a confidant by your side to tell you that you’d be insane to not invest in those adorable velvet booties, or that yellow just isn’t your color. Shopping on Black Friday can be a great social outing between a group of friends, who can help liven your mood as you all navigate the scene together.

However, having another voice in your head can cloud your judgement or be just plain annoying. Are you a social shopper who benefits from the company and opinions of others while picking out pieces, or a lone wolf who finds that the greatest joy of shopping is being on your own? Make the choice based on whatever experience you feel would be most helpful and enjoyable to you.

WHEN : THE RISE OF CYBER MONDAY

Companies eventually realized that lazy shoppers like me were opting to stay at home instead of sorting through the commotion of in-store Black Friday shopping, and decided to capitalize on the demographic by bringing the discounts into the digital market. Bless them for it.

I commend anyone who is strong enough to brave Black Friday year after year. However, for those of you like me who fiend for the price cuts but would surely get trampled trying to obtain them (and end up recovering in the midst of a busy Starbucks, frazzle-faced and clutching a soy chai for dear life) Cyber Monday is the ultimate savior.

There are a few cons to waiting until the weekend is over to try and snag some deals online. The discounts are not always the same as those offered in stores on Black Friday, and they usually aren’t as substantial. There is also the inherent risk of ordering something online and having it not fit right upon its arrival. In this case, it is best to shop online from brands with whom you are already familiar (a personal favorite, American Apparel usually has amazing Cyber Monday sales!) 

Whatever way you choose to shop this season, make sure it’s your way and you can’t go wrong. Happy Shopping!


Written by: Katherine Borkov

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