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If you’re hoping to hit it big on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, you’ve gotta do some prep work. A shopping expert from the digital offers site RetailMeNot gives us their top tips for finding the best deals and taming the chaos.

Black Friday has become Black November

Curalate distributed 850 million pieces of intelligent content between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday in 2016. Those shoppable photos and videos led to plenty of purchases, but the action we noticed before Black Friday really opened our eyes. While Curalate’s impressions for Black Friday and Cyber Monday were up 40% and 56% respectively year-over-year, total November impressions before Thanksgiving surged 95% higher. The findings are consistent with one truism about today’s e-commerce landscape — Black Friday and Cyber Monday are becoming less important for customers and the savings period has expanded considerably. In fact, between Nov. 1 and Nov. 23 (the day before Thanksgiving), shoppers spent $27.2 billion, a 4.3% increase over the same timeframe in 2015, according to Adobe, which analyzed data from 23 billion visits to retail websites. Check out the interactive graph below:

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are not far off! Here are 11 tips to surviving this shopping-centric holiday and landing the deal you’re looking for without losing your head.

1. Research Deals

Before you rush off to the stores on Black Friday or load all your go-to retailers in your browser tabs, look into deals ahead of time so you can make a game plan. Shopping expert Sara Skirboll of RetailMeNot, the digital offers site, suggests doing some advanced research online. “Search for leaked ads online, download shopping apps, sign up for retailers’ newsletters, and follow social handles of your favorite retailers,” Skirboll says. (Lucky for you, we’ve aggregated all the best Black Friday deals here.)

2. Shop Strategically

Believe it or not, the types of deals you can get on Black Friday differ from those on Cyber Monday, and you can get better deals in certain departments than others. Below, RetailMeNot shared the top discounts by category and percentage that can be expected during these days based on last year’s data.

Top 10 retail categories by percentage off on Black Friday:

  • Designer Clothing: 41%
  • Multi Category: 40%
  • Personal Services: 39%
  • Teen Clothing: 36%
  • Clothing: 35%
  • Accessories: 34%
  • Computers and Electronics: 33%
  • Toys and Kids: 33%
  • Sports and Fitness: 33%
  • Shoes: 33%

Top 10 retail categories by percentage off on Cyber Monday:

  • Designer Clothing: 40%
  • Multi Category: 40%
  • Personal Services: 39%
  • Teen Clothing: 37%
  • Clothing: 35%
  • Accessories: 35%
  • Sports and Fitness: 34%
  • Toys and Kids: 33%
  • Computers and Electronics: 33%
  • Shoes: 33%


3. Prepare Shopping Carts Ahead of Time. [mks_highlight color=”#ff3838″]MAIN TRICK[/mks_highlight]

Are you shopping to find Black Friday deals that you might want? Or are you waiting for Black Friday deals on things you already want to buy? Depending on which you fall under, your approach should differ. Why is it the main trick? There are interesting aspects of events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

First of all, I need to tell you, that there were amazing hidden discounts on stores last year, especially on Amazon. Last year who filled up their cart on Amazon (with Black Friday and Cyber Monday discounts) before 7-2 days to 24th November (27th November) over 1000$ with various products (approximately 10-15 pieces), got amazing additional discounts. Maybe you have a question, Why? Let me ask you, Do you know how to boost sells on Amazon and make billion dollars? Anyways, Amazon knows how to sell, especially on Black Friday and Cyber Monday events. The important thing for stores is to sell more products. Customers usually buy the most important products for themselves and maybe they have not a big budget to buy everything they want, and here Amazon creates his marketing by offering again you with more discounts to buy.

Why did I tell you that there were hidden discounts? Not many people got additional discounts because many people bought on 24th November, they didn’t prepare their wishlist before a few days ago and did not get amazing offers. 

If you want to save a lot of money, you should right now visit Amazon Black Friday deals and fill up your cart (wishlist).  It is very important, if events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday give an opportunity to save a lot of money, why we should not use this maximum, as much as possible?

If you already know what you want, then go ahead and fill up your online shopping carts with those items. That way, when Black Friday deals start going live, you won’t have to scramble. You can simply check out.

At the same time, fill your carts with alternative items that you wouldn’t mind purchasing if your primary wishlist items don’t go on sale. Having backups is always a good idea.

If you’re waiting for deals before shopping, then you should take this time to sign up for sale alerts and loyalty programs across all of your favorite brands. It’s way easier than browsing once a day, looking for which items recently went on sale.

And if a certain deal is announced ahead of time, use that head start to fill your shopping cart so you can check out as soon as it goes live.

4. Budget Accordingly

If you’re shopping for everyone on your list this holiday, outline what your spend ceiling is when it comes to each person, especially because it’s easy to get caught up in the shopping frenzy with competitive consumers stocking their shopping carts like it’s Supermarket Sweep. That way, you won’t blow your budget on the first enticing sale you see.😉

5. Bring a Friend

There’s no doubt you’ll be tempted to do some serious transacting if you’re in the company of the typical Black Friday/Cyber Monday coupon queens and kings. If, and when, you run into a deal that didn’t make your list (you read tip #3, right?), it helps to get a second opinion before you get too sticker-struck. Yes, they may be 60% off, but do you really need another pair of running shoes? Run deals through your friend’s filter (as long as you brought someone shopping or can reach them quickly by email), and you should do the same for them.

6. Review Return Policies

“Retailers usually have specific return policies for doorbuster sales, so we advise you to research beforehand what they entail so shoppers are prepared,” Skirboll says. If returns on certain products aren’t permitted, then you may want to skip the variable gifts and only go for the reliable items on your list that are sure to please recipients. If you’re unsure of sizing (clothes, shoes, or otherwise), find out if exchanges can be done in lieu of a full product return. That way, there’s at least some flexibility should the shoe not fit (literally!).

7. Factor in Shipping Fees

The worst thing to do is have your heart set on a discounted item only to realize that the shipping costs more than the thing itself. This is typically true of larger, heavier items, including furniture and technology. Do yourself a favor and look up shipping costs in advance. If that 4K TV you’re lusting over costs more to ship than it does to pick up in-store, consider getting some help with the heavy lifting and go get it in person.

8. Prepare for Long Lines

If you’re shopping in stores, you’ll be far from alone on Black Friday. Not only is it a rush through the aisles, but it’s a race to the finish (the checkout, that is). Expect to face long lines and impatient customers. Go prepared in comfortable clothes — particularly comfortable footwear — in case you end up standing for a few hours. Also be prepared with emergency snacks like granola bars, bananas, or a bag of nuts for protein that you can stow in your bag to avoid a bout of hunger.

9. Brave Short Checkout Times

Online shoppers face a different challenge: Racing to get all their items in a shopping bag before inventory depletes. Have your credit card at the ready and discount codes on hand so you can check out quickly without risking missing out on that dream deal. Some sites even count down how long you have to keep something in your cart. Keep that in mind and check out separately if needed to secure your savings.


10. Save Receipts and Order Confirmations

Many retailers now allow you to email or print your receipts in person. Do either, or both, but just be sure that you keep a record of your purchases, especially if your shopping list includes high-ticket items, because you never know when you may need to do a return or exchange. Plus, it’s important to total your expenses so your credit card statement doesn’t surprise you. If you’re a web shopper, have order confirmations sent to the same email address, and save them for future reference in one central folder named “receipts” or “Christmas gifts.” That way, they’re easier to find later, instead of searching through your entire inbox.

11. Have Fun!

Assuming you’ve gotten this far, the idea of shopping serious sales for steep savings must appeal to the bargain shopper within you. Don’t get caught up in the chaos and frenzy of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Keep your cool, and remember: If you don’t get the items at the top of your wish list … there’s always next year.

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