Black Friday season will be heating up roughly a month from now, so it is our solemn duty as deal experts to impart some Black Friday wisdom upon our faithful fans on this, the day the countdown begins.
What do you mean you haven't started your Black Friday planning yet? Are you crazy?
Okay, we're kidding. Who wants to think about Thanksgiving and holiday shopping when we know that you're still recovering from that nasty sunburn and have the air conditioner dialed up to 11? It is still summer after all.
Still, the season is just around the corner - ready or not. Here are six things that Black Friday shoppers should know today.
The Black Friday ads won't show up until late, but mid-September is when we start hearing news and rumors about store hours, how sales may be structured, and sometimes even a few controversial quotes from high-level executives - remember when a Target exec was on record saying they weren't going to compete in Black Friday last year? That happened in September. Mid-September is also when retailers release the hot holiday toy lists, toy books and catalogs.
The earliest ads are usually from Harbor Freight, a relatively small home improvement store whose major marketing strategy seems to be that they're always the first official Black Friday ad of the year. That usually happens sometime around October 10th. After that, it's a slow trickle that gradually picks up to some full-on class 6 rapids by mid-November. Black Friday ads from big players like Walmart are always among the last.
That's about as much as we can predict. Looking at when various ads have been leaked or released over the last several years, there is no pattern to it. Retailers like to keep everyone on their toes, and unofficial leaks are never guaranteed. The only thing you can count on is that it will be completely unpredictable.
But that's why you've got us, right? Check out our sister site, Brad's Black Friday, where we post all of the Black Friday ads as soon as they arrive. We also have a Black Friday Facebook page and email alerts devoted to Black Friday.
Don't get caught in the holiday credit card trap! A little budgeting now will go a long way. Figure out now who you're buying for and how much you want to spend per person. Then divide the total by the number of paychecks you'll get between now and your shopping spree and start socking that much away every paycheck until then.
If you put anything on a credit card, make sure you can pay it off within 60 days.
Better yet, put purchases on a rewards credit card and pay off the entire balance immediately with the cash you saved up with all that cash you saved up for holiday gifts.
Many savvy credit card users know that some credit cards will reimburse you for the difference if the price of an item you buy drops within a certain period of time, usually in the neighborhood of 30 days. So if you don't feel like standing in line for a certain doorbuster, you may be able to buy it early, then ask your credit card to reimburse you for the difference. Your mileage may vary, but we have seen it work very well.
Black Friday is no longer the only shopping day that matters. In fact, Black Friday has really become more of a season, with many retailers like Amazon and Kohl's running Black Friday deals for a week or more. Online electronics retailer Newegg even goes so far as to host Black November.
Even if a retailer isn't going that far, the products in Black Friday ads are often being advertised at prices you can get right now. So if you see something you're interested in, check the current price, and be ready to spring on it if it's already at its Black Friday price.
But you already knew that. Brad's Deals posts the web's best deals - 7 days a week, 365 days a year. It's basically like Black Friday happens every day around here. We think that's pretty awesome.