Known as the official start of the holiday shopping season, Black Friday is one of the busiest shopping days of the year. According to The National Retail Federation (NRF), on average, consumers are expected to spend almost $700 on holiday gifts this season, totaling almost $450 billion. The NRF says sales should be up 2.3 percent, which is much better than last year's increase of 0.4 percent.
For retailers, this is crunch time -- the last chance to bring in revenues before the end of the year. For shoppers, this is the time to snatch the best deals and save the most money. The NRF says that 138 million people are expected to shop on Black Friday weekend, compared to 134 million in 2009.
Before you head out on your shopping adventure, here's what you should know!
Use Your iPhone!
iPhone apps like Loopt Star and Shopkick give shoppers deep discounts when they walk into the store or scan the barcode of a product using the iPhone. Macy's. Best Buy, American Eagle, Sports Authority, American Apparel and tons of other retailers are now participating in this new technology. Also, iPhone apps such as Yowza!!, MobiQpons and SaveBenjis are great apps to find mobile coupons. According to IHL Research, 80% of consumers use or plan to use mobile coupons within the next two years.
When shopping online, chances are you won't have to pay shipping! 85% of online retailers will offer free shipping during the holiday season according to Shop.org! Last Thursday, Wal-Mart started to offer free shipping on some 60,000 items on Walmart.com through December 20.
Use Cash Instead of Credit Cards
New research from Moreplace Market says that 40% of consumers plan to ditch their credit cards when shopping for the holidays, and use cash instead, showing a new sense of responsible spending. Cash is a much better option - at some point you'll run out of cash, which will force you to stop shopping, whereas credit cards have no boundaries and its easy to spend thousands of dollars.
Find Discounts on Twitter
The National Retail Federation says that 22% of retailers plan to use Twitter to promote special sales in stores and a great example of this was when last week, TJ Maxx tweeted about how they were selling iPads for $100 of the normal price! Also, airlines are now tweeting about special travel deals- follow Jet Blue @JetBlueCheeps and US Airways @USAirways to find the latest specials/discounts and contests/sweepstakes on airline tickets.
Bargain and Negotiate on Everything!
No matter what it is you're buying for the holidays -- an iPod, a new computer, a new cell phone -- always ask the seller, "can you do better on the price." The worst they can say is no and you really have nothing to loose. Also make sure you do your research before buying something and compare prices of items between different stores.
Fine Print of Black Friday
On Black Friday many stores will offer TVs for 50 percent off -- when you read the fine print and it says "while supplies last," that may mean that the store only has 5 TVs in stock that have this discount! While in the store you may be lured to spend money on items you do not need. Be aware of the fine print! Also, use the store's circular, which features the store's best deals.
Create a Budget
Create an affordable budget and stick to it. If you determine that you can afford to spend $500 on holiday gifts this season, then set aside $500 in cash and leave your credit cards at home while shopping, to avoid any temptation to continue spending. Use HelpSaveMyDollars.com's Expense Calculator for help in creating your budget.
For more money saving tips, check out my interview from earlier this week on MSNBC with Contessa Brewer: