NEW YORK (MainStreet) Black Friday has always been dubbed the busiest holiday shopping day of the year and the official start of the holiday shopping season.
This year, the importance of luring shoppers into stores has never been more urgent, primarily for two reasons. First, since Thanksgiving falls on a later date this year, there are six fewer days to shop between Thanksgiving and Christmas, making the 2013 holiday shopping season the shortest in eleven years.
Plus, economic growth, while improving, is still anemic, and the average shopper is expected to spend 2% less than last year, according to the National Retail Federation.
Retailers are relying on extra promotions before Black Friday and expanding store hours on Thanksgiving Day to fill in the gaps.
If you're looking to stand on line during the wee hours of the morning on Black Friday, keep in mind doorbuster deals are in very limited supply. If you see a laptop advertised for $200, you'll need to be one of the first customers on line to snag the deal. Retailers tend to discount items below cost on Black Friday just to get customers in the door so they'll buy other items that aren't doorbusters.
Beyond the doorbusters on the cover of the store's circular, peruse the rest of the booklet to find other deals. The items positioned after the first few pages of the circular, while less flashy, will be in higher quantities, so if you stroll into the store at noon on Black Friday, you should score the deal.
To keep track of all of Black Friday store circulars, download the TGI Black Friday app on the iPhone and Android which keeps track of the Black Friday circulars for the major retailers.
Speaking of apps, you may not have much success in using those price scanning apps. Retailers like Best Buy have reportedly created customized barcodes to make it tougher for consumers to use price scanning apps. Typically, consumers scan the barcodes of items in the store and ask the sales associate for a price adjustment if they found a competitor retailer offering the same item for less.
While many of the major retailers have embraced price matching, it's worth doing your research before you hit the store and bringing a print-out from a website showing the competitor's lower price, rather than relying on apps that may leave you empty-handed.
When it comes to staying current on deals, coupon codes and sales, subscribe to store emails and follow your favorite retailers on social media.
"Create a separate separate email account for all of your store email subscriptions, so the emails don't get lost in your work or personal inboxes," says savings expert Jeanette Pavini of Coupons.com.
While the deals will be plentiful on Black Friday, stores will try to sell you product add-ons, like extended warranties on electronics, which you don't necessarily need. Before you shell out cash for a longer warranty on your new television, check with your credit card company, which usually extends or even doubles the manufacturer's warranty at no cost to you.
"If you do end up purchasing a separate warranty, make sure it doesn't exceed 10% of the price of the item," Pavini adds.