Black Friday, the notorious shopping day from hell, is almost upon us. Akin to the first day of the January sales in the UK, it's the day where Americans across the land battle their way into the malls of America to get the best deals available from shops keen to kick start the holiday (read Christmas) shopping season.
Here is Louis Ramirez from Dealnews, a site that aims to bring you the best deals available on the hottest items on the Internet, 10 best tips to help you maximise your efforts when you hit the shops the day after Thanksgiving.
Start your Black Friday on Thursday
The "big-box" stores will have most of their Black Friday sales online on Thursday. Our number one Black Friday tip is to begin shopping online on Thursday, as early as possible (if you live on the West Coast, start Wednesday night at 9 pm).
Shop online on Black Friday too
Don't buy Apple before you check Apple's sale
Apple hardly ever slashes its prices, but if you're hoping to pick up a new iPod touch, look for the Apple Store's Black Friday sale, a tradition that's been running for several years. Apple typically offers discounts of 10% off iPods and 5% off Macs during its Black Friday sale.
Uncover the secret deals
Want to score a deal no one knows about? On Thanksgiving Day, retailers like Walmart and Best Buy are expected to advertise additional Black Friday deals that weren't in their circulars. These "secret" deals will only be found online (e.g., at BestBuy.com), so the trick is to uncover them on the Web on Thursday so you'll know about them when you get to the store on Friday.
Ask for gift receipts
Nothing is worse than giving a gift on Christmas morning and realizing it's the same sweater you gave them last year. In those cases it pays to have your receipts so you can exchange your gift for something your loved ones really want. Better yet, attach gift receipts with your presents so that they can return their gifts themselves while you kick back and relax at home.
Be wary of mail-in rebate hassles
If you never remember to fill out rebate forms in time, then that $1000 item with a $300 rebate costs $1000, not $700. Also be wary that some manufacturers and store chains are still struggling in this bad economy. If they go into bankruptcy, you won't get paid.
Buy highly-sought after items ahead of time
Afraid a product is going to sell out? Find out your store's return policy, and if they honour Black Friday prices and offer price matching, buy your item there before Black Friday. That way when Black Friday comes, you'll already have the item you want and can leisurely look for deals on that item (which, naturally, your store will have to match).
Do your homework
No one wants to sit in traffic on Black Friday, so make sure to map out the stores that you want to hit. Know when they open, when they close, and if applicable, what hours during the day their best sales will take place. Plan on buying a massive flat-panel TV? Make sure your car has the space you need to store it so that you don't waste time shuttling purchases back home.
Be first in line
Some stores will hand out first-in-line vouchers for shoppers who wake up at the crack of dawn and stand in line outside their store. These deals are typically substantial, but very limited. The only way to get them is getting up early so you can get a leg up on the competition. Hey, there's a reason we listed that sleeping bag/tent bundle last week.
Be wary of extended warranties & in-home installations
These services are a big source of profits for the stores. Add them, and you may spend much more than you initially bargained for. Don't be talked into buying a long, pricey warranty if you know a 1-year or 2-year plan will do the trick. And it's cheaper to buy a geeky friend dinner in exchange for help than paying for in-home setup.
You can check out more Black Friday deals at Dealnews's Black Friday homepage