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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Black Friday Shopping Expert Tips and Tricks

Retail was up .5% for the month of October. Hooray!

What does that actually mean? Retail sales haven’t shown a positive increase in forever, and stores have traditionally relied upon heavy discounting and carrying less inventory. As you may know, Black Friday is called that because stores have taken the upcoming holidays, discounted their goods for shoppers who have the day after Thanksgiving off and can go shopping, and crossed their fingers that it would allow them to show a profit.

Let's chat about upcoming shopping for Black Friday. Is it worth fighting the crowds of crazy people all in search of what they think is the bargain of the year? If you are looking for clothing, do the research beforehand. Most stores have a pretty good idea of what will be on special sale next Friday. If they choose not to share with you that is one thing, but the information should be available. You need to weigh the savings versus the stress of it all.
I had my first experience shopping on Black Friday last year with my daughter. It wasn't pretty, but I will do it again ‘cause I love my daughter. I frequently don't do malls on weekends. There has to be a really good reason for me to shop, and the same thought applies to shopping on any holiday. A holiday is meant to be just that. A break from your job! Not that I don't love it, but the crowds kill me.

I figure I log anywhere from 15 - 30 hours alone in just one of our various malls in the Triangle on any given week. That doesn't include shopping centers, or one-stop destinations.  My car survival kit isn't quite the same as most traveling salesman's. What you typically find in my car or purse on a regular basis is meant to help with my job of shopping.

Let's compare notes and see if you are as equipped for a typical shopping expedition with a personal shopper!

·         Two bottles of water, usually cold at 10 am and warm by 3 pm,
·         a small cooler if I plan ahead, with carrots, an apple and maybe some cheese,
·         a bag of my favorite snacks, typically raw cashews or smoked almonds,
·         an empty Starbucks cup, from my morning routine and just waiting to be thrown out,
·         several ink pens, because I am forever losing them between the seats,
·         black flats, for when my heels don’t like my feet anymore and my dogs are barking,
·         straight pins and safety pins, for showing clients what the garment will look like when hemmed,
·         a jewelry chain to measure what length my clients might want a necklace made to accommodate their necklines,
·         a pad of paper, and
·         a good old fashion yellow pages.

Now let's chat in terms of how you need to prepare yourself for Black Friday, and what to expect. Do your research and have a plan. Now if you’re not going for anything in particular, then are you crazy?

1.    A somewhat good night’s sleep, either Wednesday the 23rd, or if you’re hard core and don't plan on going to bed on the 24th, forget my suggestion.
2.    A plan of action. Decide what stores are most important to you and go there first.
3.    Comfortable shoes - rubber soles are a must. The mall floor will get old quickly while fighting the crowds.
4.    An outfit with no more than two layers. A sweater that can be thrown in a purse or around your waist is good for changing temperatures in stores, the mall and outdoors.
5.    A lightweight purse with a front closure or body bag purse. Don't give pick pockets an opportunity to ruin your fun.
6.    A bottle of water and a snack.
7.    Bring your patience, because you will be waiting in long cashier register lines.
8.    Any online coupons that might be used along with regular store discounts.
9.    Walkie talkies (just kidding). A cell phone will work as well. You may lose your family member in a store. Or is that the plan?
10.  Lastly, bring your smile, as this is supposed to be fun and not too painful. Hmmm, I'm just saying.

So, what might bring me out shopping besides my daughter asking me - nothing. No discount is great enough for me not to be home relaxing. If you do happen to run into me, I’ll be sporting a large cup of coffee, an extended belly from eating way too much the day before, and possibly my mother and mother-in-law on my arm. I can't imagine why they will want to come. My mother doesn't get up before 8 am. My mother-in-law is so little and doesn't hear well, and I could easily lose her under a rack or in a corner and she wouldn't hear me yelling for her. As for my daughter, truth be told, I wouldn't trade the craziness of it all to not be with her. Soon enough she won't be as determined to find a great buy at the Gap.

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