Black Friday, that frenzied day when everybody and their momma is making a mad dash to the nearest mall. This year, retailers are going all out with some serious deals.
So while you may think the people camping out in front of stores on Black Friday are a little, shall we say, 'touched', chances are the deals won't be waiting for you to roll out of bed when you're good and ready. So, if you're planning to hit the stores you gotta have a game plan to shop smart. Slip on your comfy sneakers and check out our tips for making the most of the day.
What you should know: Last year's holiday weekend sales brought in an estimated $41 billion for retailers. This year the National Retail Federation is expecting some 134 million people to brave the early crowds for door-busting (some literally) deals. Consumers plan to spend an about $682.74 on average this shopping season, says the NRF. That's 3.2 percent drop from last year's average of $705.01.
Your Game Plan
Case the joint
We're not talking binoculars and dark sunglasses just yet, but get a feel for the layout of the store a day before shopping on Friday. You'll know exactly where that cashmere sweater you've been pining over will be tomorrow. Make nice with the security guard and find out how everything is going down.
Make a budget and shopping list
Know your 'must-have' and 'can-live-without it' items. There's nothing smart about buying things just because they're on sale. Being honest about how much you can really afford to spend will avoid unnecessary debt and expenses.
Get some sleep
Nothing says "Crazy lady in aisle three" more than a tired shopper. Get some rest after Thanksgiving dinner so you'll be fresh in the morning.
Think like a soldier, act like a lady
You know your mission. Stick to it and never mind all the attitude you're bound to encounter from other shoppers.
Choose the right shopping girlfriend
We're not mad at you for leaving your boo with the kids at home. This is the one time you need to be with girlfriends who share your love of a good bargain.
All the big retailers have already published their Black Friday sales. Buy a copy of your local newspaper and clip ads to maximize on bargains. Some stores have a price-matching option while others have time-sensitive sales so make sure you read the fine print.
All that running around from store to store might get messy. Bring your own water to keep hydrated and focused.
Check for online bargains
Even though Cyber Monday (November 30th) is when most people will be clicking away for holiday gifts, some big retailers post Black Friday ads and discounts on the web. Online retailers are also trying to cash in on Black Friday shoppers.
Know the return policy
Some major retailers have strict return policies like restocking fees and deadlines. Find out what it is before swiping your credit card. It is to be expected that you feel some buyer's remorse when you get home. Ask a salesperson about the returns and exchanges, especially if you're buying an item as a gift.
Check your Facebook and Twitter accounts
Some retailers are telling shoppers about deals via Twitter--some as short as an hour, so check all your social media sites.
Where to shop for haute deals on Black Friday:
Wal-Mart: Up to 50% off most items in-store. Check your local store
Old Navy: 50% off outerwear, $15 sweaters for the family, and buy 2 T-shirts, get one free.
Macy's: Up to 20 - 50% off all regular-priced items
J.Crew: Shop before 10am and get up to 50% off all sale merchandise.
The Gap: 50% all Women's and Men's sweaters; 50% all kids and baby cozy fleece styles.
JCPenney: "Doorbuster'' specials from 4 a.m. until noon. Deals include a Wii/Xbox gaming tower for $48.88.
Crate and Barrel: Up to 50% off from the CB outlet
Bloomingdales: 30 - 40% designer handbags; 20 - 70% off home items.
Target: $3 for select appliances; up to 50% off on clothes and toys.
H&M: 25% off any item until 10am. 50% off select outerwear throughout the day.
The Body Shop: Buy 1, get 1 free on seasonal bath and body, all gifts, and holiday home fragrance oil through Sunday.
Saks Fifth Avenue: Up to 40% off women and men's styles Take up to 60% off at Saks Fifth Avenue's Thanksgiving Sale 11/26-11/28.
Victoria's Secret: Buy one bra, get the other 50% off. PINK hoodies and fleece pants are $25 all weekend; Get a "runway bag" with $60 lingerie or beauty purchase.