Of the many adjectives that describe the Black Friday shopping experience, “fun” likely isn’t a popular choice.
“Everybody’s irritated. They want to go home. It’s like going to work. You have a battle plan. You execute your plan and get out,” said Kelly Pressy, 34, of Columbus.
Pressy is a self-described savvy shopper who writes a shopping blog, Kelly’s Coupon Addiction.
Go ahead, dread the 2 a.m. wakeup call. Cringe at the shoppers who dig through piles of sweaters and disregard the importance of folding.
But once you’ve accepted Black Friday’s realities, you’ll likely return for another year of retail chaos.
“There is no way, with the economy the way it is, that you can afford not to,” Pressy said.
After years of covering the Black Friday shopping scene, I understand why some people skip Thanksgiving dinner to spend quality time in a makeshift fort outside Best Buy.
Last year, I worked the earliest Black Friday shift in my journalism career.
I ate Thanksgiving dinner, watched some TV and started interviewing shoppers around 2 a.m. Some stores reached capacity before I’d fully digested my last piece of pumpkin pie.
Later, I told the tales to friends who chose sleep over a possible brush with shopper’s rage. They responded with a question that dominates Black Friday discussions.
“Are the deals really that good?”
Yes, with some disclaimers.
It seems like Pressy’s general sentiment, and I agree. It’s easy to snag a great deal on Black Friday, but it’s also easy to convince yourself you’ve snagged a great deal.
To make the most of your shopping experience, consider these tips.
Think critically. “Make sure it’s really a deal,” Pressy said. She pointed to phrases like “savings up to 70 percent,” which can make customers falsely believe they’re saving 70 percent on all items in a specific area.
Also, be aware of stores that will match a competitor’s prices. It helps you create a backup plan if your chosen item is sold out at your first stop.
Know your limits. “The first thing you should have is a budget -- and stick to it,” Pressy said.
I’ve learned her lesson the hard way. A daily glimpse at my shoe closet reminds me that the word “sale” alone shouldn’t justify an otherwise unnecessary purchase.
Maximize comfort. “Dress in layers and comfy shoes,” Pressy said. She also warns against using a cart when you’re only looking for select items.
Regardless of your desire to instill an early appreciation for Black Friday, avoid including young shoppers in the excursion. “Do not bring your children,” Pressy said.
Watch the clock. Black Friday bargain hunting isn’t necessarily an all-day ordeal. Since many deals are time-sensitive, the day’s most coveted prices often end by noon.
That explains why so many people flaunt bedhead and wrinkled pajamas in the name of financial savings.
Even though the experience isn’t widely characterized as “fun,” there’s some satisfaction in holding your desired item in the checkout line.
“It’s like a ‘Where’s Waldo?’ for adults,” Pressy said.
And if you’re really lucky, you’ll find Waldo -- or that flat-screen TV -- without resorting to hair-pulling.
Sonya Sorich, reporter, can be reached at 706-571-8516.
From deals to discussion forums, the Internet offers plenty of ways to enhance your holiday shopping strategy. Hit the computer while savoring your final piece of pumpkin pie and check out these websites.
The site isn’t exactly obscure, but you might not know that Amazon started its Black Friday deals on Monday, Pressy said. The Black Friday sale lasts through Saturday and includes “Lightning Deals” that are limited in time and quantity.
Pressy recommends this site, which includes printable coupons as well as discount coupon codes for online shopping.
Another suggestion from Pressy, Hot Coupon World is a good source for printable coupons. Check out the forums, which include a “deal seeker” thread where other users can help you find a bargain.
This site was popular on Internet search engines in the weeks prior to Black Friday, thanks to the leaked ad copies it boasted. A Black Friday forum includes general and store-specific discussions.