Here's a fun fact to keep in mind ahead of everyone's favorite shopping weekend: Last fall, the American Marketing Association published a number about Black Friday spending that has the same eyebrow-raising quality as a doorbuster deal: Retailers made about $8 billion on that day alone. This big figure, which was compiled by Adobe Analytics, was coupled with the prediction that Cyber Monday would bring in nearly $7 billion in sales—a forecast that eventually made it the largest online shopping day ever.
All that being said, Black Friday 2018 is around the corner, and it's likely going to be as frenzied as it has been in the past. So what are you doing to prepare for it?
Other than lacing up your favorite sneakers and doing a few lunges in the parking lot—or, you know, making sure your tabs are refreshed on certain sites—there are a few ways to get an edge on the masses before they descend on those coveted Black Friday deals. Whether you're filling your bags online or in stores, these are the 10 tips to keep in mind as you seek out deals. Remember, even though retailers are set to make the big bucks, you should still make your dollars stretch as far as possible.
Start preparing on Tuesday. Yes, Black Friday's title has an obvious date, but since more and more shoppers are snatching up deals from the comforts of their desktops and smartphones, retailers have started to open their sales on the Wednesday prior to the big event. So get ready on Tuesday by planning what you want to buy and even go so far as to drop those items into your cart ahead of time.
Sign up for emails. Do you want to know how much of a discount you'll get online from your favorite stores? Sign up for emails. Sites like Madewell, Crate and Barrel, and Nordstrom are good places to start.
Round up those promo codes. While you should obviously be using the promo codes that are splashed across any homepage, sites like RetailMeNot and apps like Honey will make sure that you're getting the best price upon checkout.
Check back in on Monday. Cyber Monday is traditionally when online shopping gets its Black Friday discount, even if those discounts more or less start early now. Still, it's worth it to check back in on this date to see if there's anything else on your list that you can score. Our thoughts? Head to Amazon and buy things you know you'll need for next year: wedding presents, travel accessories, and so on.
Autofill your information. If you don't already have this feature turned on for your routine desktop purchases, it's worth it to do so for this particular event. Not only will it save you precious time, but you'll also skip the hassle.
Bring a friend—or four. It's easier to divide and conquer when you have partners with you, especially if you need to wait in multiple lines or find parking. Designate friends to specific tasks, and bring coffee for the road.
Carry a reusable bag. Nothing will get in the way of your agility through the crowds more than a cart, so skip one and bring a reusable bag instead. We get that this seems like a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised by how much you can forget when you're awake at 3 a.m.
Know where to go. Do some research ahead of time to see which stores have what you're looking for in stock. If you're looking to buy electronics, then head to Best Buy or Target. And if you're on the search for toys, make a beeline to Kohl's. Don't forget to bring the coupons you found during your research, too.
Plan your route. This may make Black Friday feel less like a shopping trip and more akin to a sting operation, but planning out the order in which you need to go to stores will help you prioritize the ones that have your must-have items. Start with the place that has the one item you really want and then make adjustments as you go forward. If what you want isn't necessarily a "doorbuster," like a stand mixer, then don't feel like you need to be at a store bright and early—these deals last all day.
Whip out discounted gift cards. Save every dollar you can during this sales blitz by using the website Raise, which allows you to buy gift cards to stores at a lowered price, including Best Buy and Bed Bath and Beyond. Because you know what's better than a discount? A discounted discount.
Get some shopping done early with these items:
This post was originally published on September 26, 2018, and has since been updated.