Before we know it, it’s Thanksgiving and with Thanksgiving comes three things: food, family and shopping. The tradition of Black Friday, which gained momentum as a retail holiday in the mid-1980s, takes place the day after Thanksgiving and marks the occasion when consumers annually take advantage of retailers’ limited time, large-scale sales and offers. In fact, according to the National Retail Federation, an estimated 135.8 million Americans plan to shop over the Thanksgiving weekend and today that means, taking advantage of many great holiday deals.
We asked two local experts, Westfield South Shore Mall and Bethpage Federal Credit Union, what tips they could share on how to prepare for this big shopping holiday weekend. Here’s what they had to say.
Prior to Thanksgiving, Westfield South Shore Mall marketing director Vanessa Mitton said the best thing you can do to prepare yourself is to plan ahead and do your homework.
“We recommend that shoppers pay a visit to the stores they plan to shop at prior to Thanksgiving weekend. It’s very important that shoppers know the regular price of the item before it goes on sale so that they know exactly how much money they will be saving, if anything at all,” she said.
Store websites are also a good way to do some research. Jessica Lucas, community development relationship manager with Bethpage Federal Credit Union, said to always set a budget before you go shopping. Research shows that this first step actually helps shoppers not spend more than they can afford.
Once you’ve chosen what you want to purchase, Lucas said that the safest payment method is paying with a debit card.
“Paying by debit card allows you to set a limit on the total amount you want to spend, knowing how much you already have in your account, plus you can easily track all of your spending,” she said.
Lucas also said that this method of paying also allows you to not worry about incurring interest charges on purchased items, and you are also less likely to lose your debit card while shopping versus cash. If a credit card is your payment method of choice, Bethpage’s Lucas said not to make purchases on credit cards that can’t be paid off in one or two months. “Not paying credit card balances off in full will lead to interest charges on those purchases, leading you to go over budget and spend more on your purchases.”
Mitton said families shopping with children on Black Friday should plan out their day. “If you want to take your young children shopping with you, be realistic about how much time they can remain in their stroller or walk around before they get tired,” she explained. “Parents shopping with overtired or antsy children understandably have trouble focusing and making purchase decisions. Give children a break and some time to recharge. Many shopping destinations have lounge areas like our family lounge or children’s play area.”