By Larry Blustein
Black Friday has arrived
Even though the physical “Black Friday” as we know it, is still very much alive, the kickoff to the 2017 holiday shopping season has gone way beyond one day.
Like anything in life, there are always ways to attempt to make things better and offer more at different times, and this is truly a holiday that has done that.
Whether it’s all week – or Thanksgiving Day – the race to get those best deals possible is something that will only enhance this area of South Florida.
Remember, with the opening of Gulfstream Park’s Winter Meeting next week, and the weather staying warm enough to attract a number tourists, this is the time of year that people such as Ariel Sanchez of Hollywood look forward to.
What Sanchez does is cater events, and while Thanksgiving is always a busy time, she has noticed that she is getting more jobs before the holiday as well.
“One of the families that we catered to last year had their meal on Wednesday night – instead of the traditional Thursday,” she said. “That way, they can spend the entire Thanksgiving Day going around for deals at stores that are open.”
Part of the holiday season, especially down in this area of the state, is there are a number of tourists in town to enjoy the great weather. Because they want to celebrate the holiday, the big winner are a number of the restaurants who are open and serving delicious meals.
The South Florida Sun Times has a number of advertisers who will be open, serving some great food right through the holidays – understanding that there are many on vacation here in our slice of paradise.
Two years ago – before moving to Hallandale Beach from Cleveland – Ken and Eileen Roth spent Thanksgiving eating out, and for the first time in the 17 years, they didn’t cook.
“We were really surprised that so many places were open on the holiday,” Ken recalled. “But knowing that this is a big tourist destination, it made sense.”
The Roth family will be eating at home this year, but will be among the many who will be after the Black Friday bargains.
HOW ARE YOU PREPARING FOR BLACK FRIDAY?
As there are those who have been online for weeks and have found super deals, there are also those traditional holiday shopping bargains.
Black Friday is an exciting time, but it can also be overwhelming. If you don't have a strategy in place, you could miss the best deals.
That's why you need to have a plan and be ready for the shopping experience.
Have a Budget
Decide how much you can afford to spend on the holiday season. Figure out your must-haves, like gifts or household purchases you've been saving up for. And definitely calculate the maximum amount you absolutely can't go over. Don't forget to account for holiday incidentals like office parties!
Check the Ads
Familiarize yourself with the Black Friday ads. Check the circulars for your favorite stores first, but don't ignore the ones from places you might not normally shop!
Online vs. In-Store Shopping
If you can't take the crowds in-store, staying online might sound like the perfect alternative. But online shopping can come with a few drawbacks. Watch out for short-lived deals that sell out fast, a lack of inventory transparency, and website crashes (or outright refusals to load). Additionally, price comparisons are an absolute must.
If you can, look at both in-store and online prices. A store's website might start Black Friday sales earlier than the physical store, helping you get a better price. Or it might just match store prices. Even if the latter is the case, you'll still avoid fighting over parking spaces if you shop online!
Craft an In-Store Game Plan
If the idea of hitting the stores doesn't fill you with dread, don't think you can just plunge into it blindly. You still need to craft a game plan. Check the ads for your most wanted items and find the retailers that have the best deals. Then note store opening hours and how long the discounts run — doorbusters are usually available for a limited time.
Prepare to Stand in Line
No matter what time you shop on Black Friday, you're bound to encounter at least one notable wait. Make sure you have some entertainment on hand, lest your boredom lead to impulse purchases.
Watch Out for Final Sale Items
Before making any purchase (especially a big-ticket item), know whether or not it's marked "final sale." Those products typically can't be returned. Even the ones that are returnable could still come with restocking fees that amount to 15% or more — especially electronics. Get familiar with the store's return policy before you buy.
Have a safe and happy kickoff to the holiday season.