Shop at the prime time. You can often get the same deals online starting Thanksgiving or earlier, so spare yourself the Friday pre-dawn credit-card riot. Stores are also often breaking their sales into Thanksgiving deals and Black Friday deals, hoping to snare customers with the best buys before the turkey has settled. However, the “pre-Black Friday sale” is not always a substitute for the real thing. For example, right now PetSmart has 40 percent off many products. The Black Friday ad notes that online Thanksgiving discounts go to 50 percent off, with free shipping. Puppacita can hold out.
Consult a clearinghouse of Black Friday ads, such as BlackFriday.com, to browse through full ad circulars and get updates on which sale starts when. Kohls’ online sale has started; two years ago I got a king-size down comforter for $24.99, but unfortunately I don’t see that deal this year.
Do deal detective work. For retailers who have not yet announced a Black Friday sale, look at their current promotions and read the fine print for its expiration. For example, I am addicted to Kerastase hair products. Expensive but worth every penny, I wait for sales to ease this mane expenditure. Their current promotion for a free deluxe sample set ends at Nov. 27 at 3 a.m. EST. Every year, Kerastase does 20 percent off the site for Black Friday. So I’m holding my horses for Nov. 27 at 3:05 a.m.
Divvy it up to get more freebies. For retailers offering promotions with purchase and free shipping, split up your purchases. I was holding out for today’s ultimate Black Friday bonanza from L.A.-based skincare guru Ole Henriksen — a gift bag full of $100 worth of products free with a $50 purchase. I had two sets I wanted to buy: one $55, the other $59. The system wouldn’t let me get two of the $100 bags, but I just headed over to RetailMeNot to root through the promo codes. I used a code to get a free cleanser on my second purchase.
Check sites you might not otherwise check for unexpected deals. Two Thanksgivings ago, I clicked on CVS.com to find all store-brand over-the-counter meds half off. It was a time to stock up on ibuprofen and diphenhydramine. This year, CVS has buy one, get one free toys. One year the Walgreens photo center offered half off all digital prints. I had fun combing through my photo files, making prints of old friends and photo collages of the Puppacita.
Let history be your guide. I have a clearance top sitting in my online shopping cart at Juicy Couture. I know that in years past all clearance has been subject to an additional markdown for Black Friday. I take the risk that my size will sell out. I’m willing to take that gamble for an additional half off. Just a couple more days.
Shop around. I need some more Kiehl’s (the best lip balm around – I recommend the mango), but who will have the best deal? Nordstrom.com has free shipping on any size order and sells Kiehl’s. Kiehls.com will have some sort of sale. Until the details of all possible discounts are known, don’t commit.
Coupon up. Check for the perpetual Bed, Bath and Beyond coupon on the back of the ad circular in your mailbox. Add discounts on top of discounts whenever possible.
Do you need it now? Remember how good the after-Christmas sales could be, especially if retailers have problems moving merchandise this year. Big-ticket items such as TVs lure the horde to Walmart but often go on deep discount after the holiday frenzy has fizzled. Victoria’s Secret is just a month away from its Semi-Annual Sale, so usually just has token Black Friday discounts to appease shoppers until the real deal.