How-To, Shopping

Pro Tips On Surviving Black Friday

Black Friday. It’s that day after Thanksgiving that is an American shopping tradition for millions of shoppers.  Some greet it with excitement, and others with dread.  So I thought you might like to get some shopping tips from a pro on how to shop like a pro on Black Friday and get the most out of this crazy day when you and millions of your closest strangers are vying for the same products, customer service, and parking spaces.

Shop from a list. Sales and promotions are very tempting, but if they veer you off course from what you intend to shop for, you might just be spending more.  That’s just what retailers want you to do, but not necessarily what you need.  Often, retailers place their big promotional items right out along aisle ways for maximum visibility and for a “grab and go” impulse purchase.  At better stores these items will even be pre-gift boxed making you think it’s a “no brainer” buy.  Just be sure what you’re considering is better than what you had in mind or on your list before giving in to those promotional tricks and temptations.

Shop when you’re ready. I just heard that Starbucks at Santana Row will be open at 3:00 a.m. to help South Bay shoppers get their caffeine buzz on extra early.  But if you’re not looking for an item that requires you to camp out at Best Buy after gobbling up your turkey dinner, it may not be worth it.  High-end retailers and boutiques aren’t price competitive, even on Black Friday, but are more apt to provide better service than department stores and discounters.

Shop when everyone else is typically eating. While you can’t control the Black Friday crowds, you can potentially avoid the crush.  Filling shopping bags while other shoppers are filling their stomachs means less competition for help, less waiting time for dressing rooms, and less time waiting to have your items boxed and your transactions processed.  It also increases your chances for coveted one-on-one attention.

Plan your eating. Pack healthy snacks into your bag.  I like almonds because they’re dry, easy to eat, won’t go bad, and give you energy on the go.  Also, you can touch merchandise with no worries of leaving residue behind, unlike other snack foods.  Also bring along a bottle of water so you stay hydrated.  Sugary snacks and drinks can affect your energy level and leave you flagging before you might be mentally ready to wave the surrender flag.  Nothing is worse than having no snacking plan to help keep you energized.  If you shop in a restaurant heavy area, like San Francisco’s Union Square, make a reservation, or you may wander far off course to eat, or worse – you might wait hours for a table at your preferred restaurant [if you are seated at all].

Shop at the pace of the slowest person in your group. Shopping is like hiking.  If you’re shopping in a group, nothing is worse than not enjoying the experience of being together because one person is rushing through everything.  If you’re a more experienced shopper, use your leader role to help others so you’re all having a positive shopping experience and enjoying the festivities.

Don’t waste time looking for “Princess” parking. Honestly, everyone is looking for “Princess” parking, so why drive yourself crazy even before you get into the store?  A legal spot on Black Friday [or any busy shopping day] is a good spot in my opinion.  I honestly believe the most stressful experience that can set the tone – and potentially spoil a shopping experience – is the parking experience.  You’re much better off finding a spot a bit further away from the mall doorway, or in a parking garage a couple of blocks away, just for your own sanity.  Once you’re out of the car and on your way to your destination, you’re steps closer to a less stressful day.  Valley Fair and Santana Row offer valet parking, and this is a great day to take advantage of the service, even though you’ll have to pay for it, and you’ll likely have to wait in line when retrieving your vehicle.  Just be sure if you do valet your car that no valuables are all ready in the car.  Holiday time is prime time for merchandise theft right out of your car.

Remember to take in the spirit of the season. It’s easy to forget with the rush and crush of people that having more patience and politeness may only help you enjoy your day more.  Just because others may not be as mindful is no reason for you to treat others poorly just to get what you want the way you want it, or to get from point A to point B.  If you’re someplace where a tree or menorah lighting will take place to kick off the season, consider taking in the activity.  After all, if you don’t like crowds, Black Friday is not the day to be out and around people!

Of course, you can shop online on Black Monday, but you can’t touch or see the goods in person.  No matter how you prefer to shop, I wish you great success.

Joseph Rosenfeld helps high-profile individuals revitalize, manage, and be secure in their personal visual brand. Visit for details.