Black Friday is upon us once again, and this is sure to be one we’ll remember. According to Brookings, “Retail sales, which primarily tracks sales of consumer goods, declined 8.7 percent from February to March 2020, the largest month-to-month decrease since the Census Bureau started tracking the data.”
That’s why stimulating the economy through Black Friday shopping is so important for those who can afford to do so. And, as Covid-19’s second wave threatens holiday travel, shopping online for presents that can be sent to friends and loved ones can help to bridge emotional distances and ensure that an otherwise unorthodox 2020 holiday retains its ability to be special and noteworthy. Cas Paton, founder and CEO of OnBuy.com, is leading his growing team in the expansion of the world’s fastest-growing online marketplace, meaning he knows a thing or two about grabbing the best Black Friday deals. Paton shared his four top tips to help you make the most of this year’s Black Friday deals.
1. Get a gameplan together early
In years past, you may have rushed to the nearest shopping mall or large retailer to peruse the big deals, making your shopping decisions on the spot. The shift to online shopping for this year’s Black Friday festivities is great for online businesses because they can expand their customer base beyond their local vicinity. But, this also means items are likely to go out of stock quickly.
“Plan ahead and know what you’ll order when, as well as what everyone on your gift list is likely to want,” Paton explained. “Set a budget and set out to see what you can find with a few backup plans in tow. Remember that some Black Friday deals are surprises, so be prepared to check out your favorite brands. Working quickly and striking while the iron is hot is also important for this reason.”
He also notes that adults in the U.S. are predicted to spend a whopping $148.5 billion on Black Friday and Cyber Monday this year (a $285 million increase compared to 2019!), according to the latest data from Finder.
2. Shop smart: Shop in one place
The best way to save time and shop efficiently is to concentrate your shopping efforts on one central location. “While it’s true that customers are savvier than ever and well versed in shopping around, a smart shopper locks in their purchases from one outlet,” Paton advises. “This makes it easier and quicker to shop, and later track your orders, meaning you can get everything you want without stressing out. Central marketplaces that feature everything are the ultimate shopping destination because it offers such a wide variety of products and gift ideas.”
3. Keep a handle on your costs to avoid surprises
Since most of us are on a tighter budget than usual this year, make sure to do your fair share of shopping around to cost-compare. “Keeping a level head when Black Friday shopping is something that’s far easier to do online than it would be in the old days of dashing through department stores,” Paton notes. “While shopping in one place certainly helps, I advise that you also check out before you checkout. Make sure you look at delivery costs to see if there are any unexpected extras creeping up on your budget.” These delivery costs can add up substantially, taking you far over budget.
Paton recommended that “this is a good time to check return policies too if the worst should happen and you buy a gift that doesn’t impress on the big day. At least it’s easier than getting to a store with a receipt.”
4. Do your part to help independent businesses
Planning ahead will help you to focus on helping independent businesses, and putting most of your spending dollar towards the businesses that need it most. “It’s been a heavy year for a lot of us, and smaller businesses have taken plenty of hits they didn’t want or deserve,” says Paton. “It means a lot to know that customers who shop with us are helping keep small and medium retailers afloat. With the right approach, you can do plenty to give your holiday shopping a boost without running into stress and headaches. Happy shopping!”
This article originally appeared in Entrepreneur.