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Strategic is the New Black: How to Get the Most Out of Black Friday

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Black Friday has been around almost as long as the American holiday of Thanksgiving. Nowadays, its best known for amazing bargains and the occasional spot of bad behavior by crazed shoppers. Black Friday began after President Abraham Lincoln designated Thanksgiving and the day after the holiday marked the official start of the winter holiday season. The date of Thanksgiving was even moved up a week to give people more time to do their holiday shopping, and many people would call in sick the day after Thanksgiving to have a longer weekend. Those who stayed home could get a head start on shopping, and retailers began to put on promotions to capture their interest.

Thus, the shopping holiday of Black Friday became an institution, even in countries where Thanksgiving wasnt celebrated. Now, it is projected that 30% of all retail sales in a year occur between Black Friday and Christmas. For shoppers, and for businesses, Black Friday can be an amazing opportunity to get a great deal on things you need and really feel like youve won. The average Black Friday savings in the US are worth 37% off the regular price of an item. There a few ways to get the most out of the day, and a few common pitfalls to avoid in order to maintain your financial health in the midst of the craziness.

Sales and Splurges

It can be all too easy to convince yourself you need something just because its on sale, and being brutally honest about what you can afford is the key to getting through Black Friday safely and securely. If you need new technology, like phones or computers, it can be the perfect time to get them at an amazing markdown, but lots of lifestyle technology isnt a total necessity and its easy to get swept up. Have a solid list of things youve considered buying or need to replace, and stick to it. If you come across something else new and shiny, hold off until youve had time to think about whether you really need it. Its also dangerous to use the rationale that you should try something out just because you can get it for a lower price. If you dont need something, you dont need it. Things you know you need are the only ones worth your money.

Online Opportunities

Businesses realized long ago that quick-moving promotions and pricing strategies can help them maximize profits and move stock theyve been having trouble selling. Many companies have thus extended their Black Friday sales to their e-commerce channels to provide the widest array or products to the most people possible. Leading strategy analysts at Corporate Business Solutions have identified that in a year where traditional retail grew 7.8%, online retail grew 23.1% and this trend shows no sign of stopping. Paying attention to online promotions is not only a good way to find a bargain, but to easily compare products across retailers and take advantage of the price-matching options many stores offer.

Cash or Credit?

A survey by UK retail site GoCompare revealed that 23% of Black Friday shoppers plan to pay for their purchases with a credit card. While credit can be a way to take advantage of a good bargain, it can often result in high interest rate debt thats hard to get out from under. If your credit card earns you rebates or airline miles, there is some benefit to paying with credit, but its imperative that you dont view credit like youre spending free money. The rule of thumb that you cant afford it if you cant buy it twice is a particularly important mantra to hold on to through the holiday shopping season.

Black Friday is an amazing opportunity to kick off the holidays with a budget-friendly shopping spree, but its important to be smart about it. Take your time, do your research, and if youre planning on braving the sales this November 24th, stick to your strategy and enjoy taking advantage of all the bargains on offer.