Friday, November 18, 2011

Life & Style: Day-After-Thanksgiving Shopping

The day-after-Thanksgiving has become almost a holiday all on its own. Shoppers, way back in the day, traditionally went out on this day to get a start on their holiday shopping. As a result, retailers have chosen to offer deals on their products in an effort to move even more stock and make more money. Now, shoppers tend to go out, not just to get a head start on their holiday shopping but to score deals on all kinds of items for both recipients on their Christmas shopping lists and for themselves.

So what deals are available the day-after-Thanksgiving that are good deals? If you're shopping for electronics, this is typically the day shoppers pick up these items, although Jason and I do not shop for these items this day. People often camp out hours, or even days, ahead of Thanksgiving, and these people really just remind me of crazy couponers. I don't have the personal will or desire to spend that much time attempting to get a good deal that quite frankly, I don't need. I'm trying to be a good steward of all my resources, and that includes both time and money.

We tend to shop for home goods, like kitchenware, picture frames, linens and the like. The best stores to shop at, in my own opinion of course, are Kohl's, JCPenney's and Joann's. The best website I've found for viewing the DAT ads is theblackfriday.com. The owners of the site upload ad scans and post a list of available products and their prices.

The big question this year for regular DAT shoppers was what time to actually start shopping. In the past, stores opened sometime in the wee hours of the night/morning, usually around 4 AM on average. But recently, there has been a trend for stores to open at least at midnight, and sometimes even on Thanksgiving evening. For my family, we won't go out on Thanksgiving, just because of our personal preferences (we would prefer to get some sleep before shopping). This year, we plan to head out around 2 AM, with the goal to shop at both Kohl's and JCP and end up at Joann's around 5:45 for their 6 AM opening (you wouldn't believe how long the fabric cutting line gets!!!).

To compile your shopping list, I would recommend that you, at first, skip looking at the ads and instead write down those wants you've had throughout the year. I've been pining for two bar stools and a griddle. Seriously, pining. We also want to get a couple of pillows for the air mattress for when friends/family come to stay the night, another nightlight, candles, long-sleeved polos for Jason, and a whole lot of items from Joann's for crafts in the new year. So first, you have to write down what you want.

Then, take a look at the ads to see if these items will be on sale. If they're not listed on sale, you could still check out the stores on the day-after-Thanksgiving: sometimes, items are on sale but not listed specifically in the ad. If the item is sort of low on your want list, you could just move it off and wait until a sale actually occurs sometime in the year or wait for next year's DAT.

Once you have a finalized list of things you know you want that you know will be on sale or think you could find on sale that day, then look at the ads to see what, if any, additional items catch your eye. Maybe you'll end up finding an item for a Christmas gift for someone on your list, or maybe you'll just find an extra item that would fit well in your home or your life. As a general rule, Jason and I do not look through the ad for additional items, but we like to look through the ads and sometimes, we  are reminded of other items we've said we want that we have forgot we want. In that case, we evaluate whether we really want the item (if we've forgotten we want it, then we probably don't even really want it!).

If you've decided to shop the DAT, have a good attitude about it! Jason and I often sing Christmas carols (yes, out loud and yes, at the top of our lungs (and yes, we annoy everyone and don't care!!)), and we always make friends with the customers in line around us, often watching their things while they dash to grab one last item and chatting about great deals, what they did for Thanksgiving, their children - you get the idea.

Lastly, but most importantly, I would just stress that a deal is only a good deal if you actually have the money for it. An item may be 75% off and only $10, but if you don't have $10, then it's not a good deal! Jason and I pay strictly in cash and debit cards the day-after-Thanksgiving (we do not use credit cards ever, any day of the year). This keeps us in line - when the money is gone, it's gone and it's time to head home. It also helps us rein in impulse purchases. We respect our money and want to be good stewards of what we are given, so if an item we find in the store isn't on the list, we skip it this year and add it to next year's list. Then, next year, when we compile our final DAT list, we'll decide whether we still want that item. Trust me, most times, we don't.

Share with us: Are you shopping the day-after-Thanksgiving? What specific items are you looking to pick up? We'd love to hear!

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