COLUMN: Keys to a successful Black Friday

Monday, November 22, 2010 | 10:28 a.m. CST; updated 11:45 a.m. CST, Wednesday, November 24, 2010

COLUMBIA — You have decided to take the leap of faith into one of the biggest consumer shopping days of the year. The deals on that HDTV or cell phone that you want are finally here. You might be excited about finding great deals or being part of the rush that is Black Friday, but knowing how to master the madness is important. Hopefully, these tips can help you have a successful Black Friday.

Get to the store of your choice two hours before it opens

Stores advertise early hours in the hope that customers will come in for the deals. If there is a product that you are set on getting, you have to be aggressive. The best way to secure what you want is to be first. Plus, if you are willing to get up at 5 a.m. for a sale, why not get up a few hours early? If you want to get a decent amount of sleep, have an extra serving of turkey at your Thanksgiving meal. It may help you fall asleep more quickly, thanks to the L-tryptophan in the bird.

Know where the products you want are located in the store

It can be a hassle when you get to a store and have no idea where anything is. On Black Friday, take that feeling and multiply it by 10. The combination of customer anticipation and the fabulous deals might start a commotion. Knowing where your products are located within the vicinity will give you a head start. Go into your store of choice a day or two in advance and scope out where the products will be.

Know your budget for Black Friday

Stores love Black Friday because it encourages consumers to spend money. There are always extra products on sale because stores know that when you are in the spending mood, you might spend money on stuff you don’t need. The National Retail Federation found that the average spending per person on Black Friday was $343.31. If you feel like you might spend more than you would like to, plan out a budget that will ensure that you don’t go over your means.

Be committed and aggressive to everything that is Black Friday

If you still want to participate in Black Friday after the first three tips, congratulations. Being committed is one of the most important tools to being a successful consumer on Black Friday. You might have been told that in life you are only competing against yourself. However, that rule does not apply to Black Friday. Don’t be afraid to be a little aggressive, but keep it legal. If you need to pass someone in line or block someone from cutting, do it.

Black Friday has become a consumer tradition that jump starts holiday spending. Last year, Americans spent $41.2 billion (yes, billion) over the holiday weekend. If you feel like Black Friday is a sham, at least take solace in knowing that you’re helping the economy by being part of all the frenzy.

Tom Reaves Capp is a junior journalism major from Madison, Wis. He covers city government and other local issues for the Missourian. He plans on interviewing people in the wee hours of the morning Black Friday.

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