Black Friday: Tips and tricks to beat the crowd

Black Friday in the US can be quite a daunting experience if you've never taken part.

The crowds are huge and sleep deprived. The savings are potentially big and can help lessen the blow of the expensive Christmas budget. And most employees understandably just want to be back at home, in bed, sleeping.

Luckily here at Pocket-lint, we're quite the seasoned veterans navigating through Black Friday waters. We've taken part for several years now. Even if the deals aren't everything to you - not everyone wants a new flat screen HDTV each year - the experience can be fun.

Read: Black Friday 2013: Here are the best ads, deals and sales in US

We've rounded up several of our own tips and those from around the internet in the hope of making your Black Friday experience better.

Safety

The crazies come out on Black Friday. Each year there are countless injuries, with people being trampled or or otherwise injured by wildly eager shoppers. BlackFridayDeathCount.com says four deaths and 65 injuries have occurred since 2006. In 2012, two people were shot over a parking space at a Tallahassee Walmart .

If you see someone acting strangely, get out of there. None of these deals is worth getting hurt for.

Watch your purchases (and children too) and don't leave them unattended. If you can, take expensive purchases back to the car, but don't leave them visible to passersby. If you can, put them in the trunk to deter prowlers.

Travel in a group

It will not only be a more fun experience if you go Black Friday shopping with friends or family, but it can also be a safer way to travel around. There's less chance of something going wrong if you have someone watching your back.

If you plan right, you can use the group to go through sales more effectively. Divvy up the shopping list and have each person go to a specific department and bring it back to the cart as someone waits in line.

Dress in warm clothes

There's a huge winter storm moving through the northeast of the US. Depending on where you live, you'll be standing outside in the cold for at least part of the evening into morning, so make sure to dress in warm layers. There's nothing more miserable than being cold and tired at the same time.

Remember, it's not a fashion show either. Be comfortable! Wear shoes that you don't mind walking around the mall in.

Plan

Pocket-lint has rounded up the best deals in technology to take advantage of Black Friday. Best Buy, Walmart, and GameStop are full of so many deals, that if you don't get a look before heading out early, you may miss something. Most retailers also take part in price matching. If you're at a retailer who doesn't have the lowest price, pull up the retailer that does on the internet for the cashier. They might  knock the price down.

Get sleep

You have to take into consideration the hours leading up to Black Friday are Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving alone can be a stressful time. Throw hours of shopping on top of dinner with the cousins you don't really enjoy, and you've got yourself one long night. Most of us won't be able to just sleep through the day, wake up at 7pm on Thursday night and go - as great as it might sound.

Stores in the US are opening earlier every year in order to capitalise on shoppers. This means you must get there early. Either take a nap in between dinner and store openings or load up on plenty of Starbucks and Red Bull. Trust us, around 4am you'll need it.

Brace for the lines

We've stood in lines for up to two hours. Everyone is going to want to take advantage of the same deals you're after. The lines both outside the store and to pay for goods are going to be long. This is where things can get boring for the evening - entertain yourself.

Bring your smartphone! The UK staff will be cranking out stories here at Pocket-lint during the early morning hours, and hey, you can even chop through a few levels of Angry Birds while standing next to your cart.

Pay attention to returns policies and keep receipts

For obvious reasons.

Be polite

There's no reason to be rude on Black Friday - it's supposed to be fun! Walmart is open through most of Thanksgiving. You must remember many of the employees have given up their precious time with families to work.  Is one deal really worth making a fool of yourself? Don't get mad if the store has run out of an item, either.

If you have to be stern with someone because you're mistreated, then do so. But no need to yell and cause a huge scene.

You can probably just wait or shop online

If you're not looking for an item that will go super fast - like a TV or game console - you can probably just wait a few hours for the store to slow down. Usually about two or three hours after opening, stores become considerably calmer and you can navigate in a more sane manner.

Most of the deals are also found online. Again, do research and see if you really need to go out in the crowds.

Pocket-lint wishes all retail employees and shoppers a safe time! Find a good deal? Let us know in the comments. 



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