Your Holiday Shopping Plans Start Right Now!

It’s November and you know that the big holiday shopping season is upon us. And when I say upon us, I mean right now! We tend to think of Thanksgiving and the Black Friday weekend as the big kickoff and there’s no doubt that it is prime time for shopping all over the country this and every year. But have you noticed that the holiday shopping period has been stretching out further and further each year and that you can already see some “super bargains” out there beginning November 1st? That’s the truth, as many retailers have already begun to stock, advertise, and highlight a few of the better deals they will have this season. It’s not silly or foolish to think you will see better prices on some items before Thanksgiving sales or even on Thanksgiving Day!

If you haven't already started your holiday shopping, you'd better get planning right now! The deals of the season may occur before Thanksgiving this year.

Each year I write about Black Friday deals and ever since the stores began to open on Thanksgiving Day itself, that day has had the reputation of being a bargainer’s delight. That hasn’t changed this year as reported by DealNews.com which claims that the best priced items at the major retailers around the country will be found Thanksgiving Day by a margin of 38 top best deals to 31 of them being offered on Friday, November 25th, the day after Thanksgiving.

Preparation began “yesterday”

There are things that you can and should do right now if getting those must-have items at the best price possible means as much to you as it does to most shoppers around. First of all, get familiar with what is exactly a good price for what you want! We are so bombarded these days with sales promotions, special purchases, BOGO’s (buy one get one free) and all of that stuff, that seeing something with a percentage off headline like 40-50% seems as if it’s a rock bottom price. Percentage off deals may not mean a thing depending on what it is and when it is during the season. So many items are purchased at special prices by the retailers that what is shown as a huge discount to you, may actually be a gold mine for them instead. Not always the case, but you have to do your homework and look at past history ads and pricing, even going back to last year, to be certain that the item you seek is actually at its best price.

In last Christmas season’s and even in 2014‘s holiday Thanksgiving flyers, 80% of the cover items were identical and that gives you the opportunity to track price history and value. This year will have a similar approach so you can actually check these ads from previous years by going online right now.  This is how to shop scientifically and it goes beyond checking on the price itself. We have all been there at one time or another when we planned carefully and then ventured out to find our treasure only to be totally disappointed when we discovered that they ran out or it wasn’t the one you thought it was. Read the details in all the ads and know what, when, and how many are available before the events begin!

Store hours and availability are all over the board

Shopping online is the preference of an awful lot of people these days and that number continues to grow every year. The times of your holiday shopping adventure will vary from retail website to website and with stores like J.C. Penney beginning its online sales at 5am on Thursday morning and others like Walmart beginning its sales online at 12:01 am that day. The same is true of the store hours themselves where if they are open on Thanksgiving Day (and almost everyone is), the hours vary from Best Buy who will open at 5 pm Thursday to others who may start at 3 pm or as late as 6 pm. You should check either online or call the stores directly and ask the hours they will operate for all of these big days so you can plan your trip and take advantage of the deals that are almost always first come first served.

When it comes to availability, read the fine print in advance to make sure that they have what appears to be an adequate supply. Rainchecks are almost never given on these big days and you know demand is very high. Things like “door busters”, items designed to draw the crowds in early and with fire in their eyes, will run out. You will need to target the items that you really must have so you aren’t left out.

Shopping online might actually be the best way to avoid disappointment this year. Stores like Walmart have increased their online inventories by 50% to prevent the kind of chaos that last year’s holiday shopping events caused when they were unable to fill their orders due to the demand. Nothing upsets a retailer more than that.

Buy at the right time

When is the best time to buy? Not every item is at its lowest price every day of the holiday shopping season. In fact, it’s not a secret to the good shopper who uses the historical tracking results to plan accordingly. Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday is thought of as a huge day for things like TVs, cameras, and most electronics like tablets. The rest of the weekend, particularly “Cyber Monday”, is best for things like toys and clothing bargains. Of course there will be sales on all categories over this period, but the early buys, door busters, BOGO’s and other special deals may only be on a certain day or even more restrictive, just a few hours and very limited. Doing your homework in advance is the way to make the odds better for yourself to get what you really want!

Technology can help

There are now many apps like Flipp and DealNews that can give you complete access to current ads from places like Kohl’s, Macy’s, Penney’s etc. so that you will have the info at your fingertips throughout your shopping adventure. Some retailers will also offer special deals through their own store apps like Staples and Walmart do, so why not utilize these free advantages while you are out treasure hunting.

Don’t forget your budget

There are also two very important things to remember when you are out and caught up in the excitement of holiday shopping. First, please make sure you have a preplanned budget for your trip. If you try and just wing it, not plan out purchases based upon your wallet, then you are inviting problems. So many people wind up in a deep hole by over buying and using easy credit. This is especially true of store credit cards which often come with an incentive to open up and then spend a specific amount to get something free or discounted and those kinds of actions can and will always comeback to haunt you!

Secondly, keep in the back of your head that the truly best deals of the year will come just moments before December 25th or immediately afterwards as retailers then must get rid of the 2016 inventory because holiday season 2017 is just a mere 365 days away! The best deals on everything are always after the holidays, from whatever is left over, that is!

Have you planned out your holiday shopping list and where you are planning to go? Do you have a realistic budget planned? Do you think about things like warranty, style and durability to make sure that what you get is both quality and value?

10 Comments

  1. emily @ johnjanedoe

    I’m having some luck subscribing to some deal-finder emails/websites. With a little time each morning I’ve been able to knock a couple of presents off my list, but this year my list skews heavily towards kids, so I have more flexibility.

  2. No way am I playing the “Black Friday” game. If I need it I buy it and shop around at that time. The fact that it is November or December doesn’t mean I need a new _____, and it certainly doesn’t make me eager to stand in line to buy one.

  3. As a retail expert, why do you think stores started opening on Thanksgiving? I noticed an uptick in Black Friday deaths, especially due to trampling, right before the practice seemed to take off. I always attributed it to stores competing for those “first” customers as they opened up earlier and earlier to avoid the issue, but have also wondered if I’m wrong!

    1. Good question, FF. I can remember when the stores first opened on Sundays and my thought was then that all the extra day did, was to spread the shopping out over a longer period of time. Of course you could make a case for the fact that some people needed to shop on Sunday because it may be their only day to do so. When it comes to the holidays like Thanksgiving, I still think that it may spread the sales just over a longer period of time than it did before. The only difference is that it drives people in earlier to the promotions due to the hourly specials and limited quantities. My guess is that the stores like to get the sales in as early as possible so that they don’t have to depend on last minute shoppers.

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