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Tips for Black Friday, Cyber Monday Shoppers

Don’t let the hype of ‘official’ shopping days send common sense out the window.

 

From to the off of County Road 81, Maple Grove has a wide range of retail options for shoppers this holiday season.

Minnesota consumer advocates and state officials have two words for shoppers who can’t wait for Black Friday and Cyber Monday - be careful.

“For people trying to find holiday deals, Black Friday and Cyber Monday hold a lot of allure,” says Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau (BBB) of Minnesota and North Dakota. “What we’re aiming to do is remind people to think ahead, make a budget, be aware of store policies—particularly return policies."

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is traditionally known as the official kickoff of the holiday shopping season. The term Cyber Monday was coined in 2005 after online retailers began reporting substantial increases in sales on the Monday after Thanksgiving, often the first day back at the office for employees after Thanksgiving.

“Stores are opening earlier than ever this year,” Pocket Your Dollars website owner and Maple Grove resident Carrie Rocha said. “While it is a great day to find deals, consumers need to do their homework before hitting the stores.”

The number of shoppers who do their holiday shopping online increases each year. A recent National Retail Federation survey found that respondents plan to do 36 percent of their shopping online this year, up from 33 percent a year ago.

“Last year some retail stores offered the same door-buster deals online and provided a 10 percent coupon, so it’s possible to get some good deals without battling the crowds,” Rocha said.

For many, all the hype helps build to a kind of fever-pitch excitement, which sometimes replaces common sense, experts say.

“I think every year the hype gets built up a bit more,” says Dan Hendrickson, communications coordinator for the BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota. “We don’t want people to get lost in that hype. We want them to take a step back and decide what’s in their best interests and what’s the best deal.”

Whether you are shopping online or in the stores, take time to do your research.

“Know what a good price is,” Rocha said. “I advise people to go to CamelCamelCamel, this website will allow consumers to look up the price history of any item. Once you know what a good price is, check the fliers to make sure the price being offered is a rock-bottom price.”

“Black Friday is a great day to pick up TVs and laptops, but I would caution people against buying most toys,” she said.  “The best deals on toys are typically found in December as Christmas gets closer.”

For those choosing to go shopping on Black Friday, Rocha offers a few tips:

  • Do your homework before going to the stores
  • Set a budget prior to leaving

This year, big retailers are opening earlier than ever. Target stores will open at midnight, and others are following a trend that Kmart started years ago, opening on Thanksgiving Day itself.

“Every year, I think [Black Friday] can’t possibly become bigger,” Hendrickson says. “And every year it does.”

Additional tips on shopping Black Friday or Cyber Monday, compiled by the Better Business Bureau can be found here.

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