I worked retail for quite some time so I know how stressful Black Friday can be.
For workers and shoppers alike, it’s a fast paced, high-intensity and, in some cases, unforgiving experience. Without it, many of my friends would say, Thanksgiving just wouldn’t be the same.
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After spending years behind the register observing the chaos, I came to realize some small mistakes shoppers make that can cause big problems.
Here are some tips to ensure your Black Friday shopping trip this year is smooth from start to finish:
Ditch the car
Finding parking on Black Friday is impossible. In fact, I always had my parents drive me to work on this day. Follow my lead. Bribe a friend or family member with a present, free lunch or gas money to be your taxi for the day.
If there are no takers, you can always take a taxi or find a ride using the Uber app.
If you’re driving somwhere that allows you to reserve parking, try using one of the many smartphone apps that allow you to find and reserve cheap parking spots closest to your destination.
Forget the coffee
Black Friday starts early, but leave the darn coffee at home or finish it at the café. It’s just one more thing you’ll have to carry. Plus, some stores have a no food or drink policy. You don’t want to be forced to dump out your $6 latte, do you? Also, you really don’t want to be “that person” who spills their coffee in line at a busy store. Trust me.
Keep the purse
Chances are you’re going to have lots of shopping bags. It’s understandable you don’t want to drag a big, heavy purse along. But ditching the purse for just your wallet may end badly. A tiny wallet or clutch is a lot easier to set down and forget during the Black Friday rush. You want to spend your money, not lose it or have it stolen. So, stick with the purse. Just clean it out before hitting the stores so you’re not carrying unnecessary weight.
The instinct has always been that it’s a free for all once store doors open. Customers throwing everything they remotely like into their carts without a second thought seems to be the norm. Don’t do this. Being selective will save you money. It will also save you time because you won’t have to do an end of shopping evaluation where you’ll likely regret half of your cart’s contents. Remember, you want to get out of the store with your sanity intact and not have to worry about racing to put things back on the shelves.
Check for tags
If you’re looking through a big pile of like items, make sure the one you pick has a price tag attached. Taking the extra couple seconds to find that sweater’s tag will likely save a whole lot more time at check out. There will be no paging a manager here.
Have both cards and cash
I’m not big on carrying cash, but this is one time I would. To make lines move faster, some stores will designate certain lines for either cash or cards. If you’re equipped with both, you can choose whichever one seems to be going quicker.
Use digital coupons
Some customers still use coupons sent in the mail or cut out of newspapers. That’s fine, but it’s not the most convenient method. Those little scraps of paper are easy to lose and if you do, you’re out of luck. If you’re part of an online loyalty program at a store you plan to visit Nov. 25, check to see if those same coupons are also in your email inbox. If so, leave the paper coupons at home and just use your smartphone — which you should make sure is charged before leaving home.
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