How to Survive and Make the Most of Black Friday and Cyber Monday
Black Friday and Cyber Monday mark the unofficial beginning of the holiday shopping season, and are the two biggest shopping days of the year. On the Friday following Thanksgiving, herds of consumers line up outside stores for break-of-dawn openings and door-buster deals. Cyber Monday has become Black Friday's Web counterpart, with online retailers offering steep discounts and pushing more units than on any other day of the year. Part of the manic atmosphere comes from many retailers' offering a limited number of each item, so knowing the deals beforehand and devising a plan of action is essential for surviving the discount madness.
When it comes to plotting your shopping course, you'll have to decide what deals are most important. For those craving the DIY route, they can peruse the endless piles of Black Friday and Cyber Monday ads by visiting sites like blackfriday.info, bfads.net, and cybermonday.com. These outlets merely collect all the various sales and present them to you unfiltered, although both bfads.net and blackfriday.info will let you assemble shopping lists while you browse the site.
If you're less inclined to do the legwork and are just happy to get a deal (even if it's not the best deal), there are plenty of shopping and electronics sites that have already gone through and picked out their favorite bargains:
- U.S. News & World Report has one of the more thorough round-ups out there. Find out where to go for $60 GPS units, $10 Wii games, and even a super-cheap KitchenAid Stand Mixer.
- Gizmodo, which cuts through all the noise to bring you the best tech deals, breaks products up by category and puts them in easy-to-read bullet list.
- Dealnews also sticks to gadgets, but focuses on big ticket items like televisions and laptops.
- WalletPop tells you which stores will have the best deals on everything from games to tools.
If you insist on taking part of the brick-and-mortar madness that is Black Friday, here are a few tips to help you make the most of your shopping experience:
- You will likely only get a shot at one big ticket item -- so choose wisely.
- Show up early. Many stores will open at 5 a.m. or earlier, and true fanatics will camp out the night before to be first in line.
- Check reviews on sites like Amazon and CNET before you buy; there's a reason that 37-inch TV is only $300.
- Gizmodo suggests skipping digital cameras entirely. Much better deals are to be had online.
- Read the fine print, and come armed with printed ads to avoid getting ripped off.
- Remain calm, and leave the weaponry at home. Or better yet, do all your shopping online; it's safer that way.