How to Survive Black Friday Shopping Season (The Best Ways!)

Black Friday is the Friday following Thanksgiving. It is named such because it’s the day where retailers turn a profit or “get in the black.” 

As you know, this day in November is known for really long lines, large crowds, limited merchandise and yes – even riots!

Despite all of this, it is a highly anticipated event just before the Christmas holiday season where shoppers hunt for incredible bargains, on usually expensive items. 

But before you go into battle, you need some tips on how to survive Black Friday..if you choose to be brave enough to venture out for the Black Friday sales (and even if you do your Black Friday shopping online.)

We’ve got you covered. Read on and be sure to read to the end for some alternative ways to survive this Black Friday.

Part 1: Plan Ahead 

Did you know, even though Black Friday is in November, people start planning and searching for deals in October!

When it comes to Black Friday, the very first thing you must do is plan ahead. Below, we’ll provide you with some tips for planning your Black Friday strategy ahead of time. 

Know What You Want. 

It’s a good idea to know exactly what you want before you head out. If you don’t know what you want, you really shouldn’t be heading out into the crowds.

If you don’t have a plan, you may be tempted to spend money you don’t have on items you don’t need.

This will make the whole experience frustrating, and full of impulse buys with later regret. 

If you don’t take the time to make a plan, you really should reconsider going out shopping and seeing a movie or staying home instead. 

If you’re shopping for gifts, make a list of everyone you need to buy for; this will help you keep track of who gets what and create an organized method for shopping.

Plus, you can avoid duplicating gifts or missing anyone – and you’ll know who is getting what when you go to wrap them and put them under the tree. 

If you are buying for yourself or the household, you still need to make a list.

If you’re shopping for clothes, make sure that you are specific about the types of clothes you are getting.

How to Survive Black Friday Shopping Season (The Best Ways!) 1

This will help you avoid getting something just because it seems to be reasonably priced. 

If you need new jeans, new pajamas, and new socks, write it all down. Don’t worry about anything else. 

The same thing goes for household items. Don’t wander around the entire day looking for “stuff” to add to your home.

Consider what you are missing or what is broken or outdated that you could replace or add to your home to upgrade it instead of just buying a gadget that you’re not sure what to do with. 

Keep your budget in mind – especially if your finances are tight.

Even if things are not tight, a budget will help you avoid impulse buys and curb the temptation to buy something just because someone may like it.

Determine how much you can spend and stick to it. 

Map Out Your “Battle Plan.”

In addition to your list and budget, you must consider the methods you plan to adopt when going for the bargains.

When it comes to the limited deals you’ll find available on Black Friday, timing is critical.

Therefore, you must think about when you plan to show up for a particular sale. 

If you’ve got items on your list that are likely to sell out quickly, you should get there as early as possible.

If you want to get your hands on certain items, you might consider camping out; but that’s another article. 

To map out your battle plan, you’ll need to do the following: 

Collect all of the ads that mention Black Friday discounts.

Knowing what’s on sale, where it’s on sale, and when it’s on sale will make the process easier.

Some stores will have their sales running all day, while others only have them running for a few hours. 

Create your plan of attack by drawing up a map of places that you want to visit in the order that you want to see them.

It’s best to know which stores you want to hit first, which is probably the one with the essential items on your list.

Make sure that you note the stores with limited sales and the time the sales are running. 

Organize transportation, keeping in mind that parking lots will be packed, and parking rage gets ramped up pretty early.

Things will be more convenient if someone can drop you off and then come back to pick you up later on.

Perhaps public transportation can be an option, or you can stay with a friend that lives near the stores so you can stash your purchases before heading back out for more.

Consider Alternatives & Substitutions.

If there’s a specific item you’re looking for, try to consider if there are alternatives you could purchase instead – just in case your preferred item is out of stock.

The truth of the matter is that things sell out quickly on Black Friday, especially if it’s a popular item.

Look around for an alternative, less popular brand/items. 

Part 2: Time to Head Out

You had a wonderful dinner on Thanksgiving- and you have a plan in place for your shopping. Now, it’s time to head out. Here’s what you need to know: 

Take Only the Necessities. 

When you head out, you mustn’t carry too much with you.

The only thing you really need is a watch to keep track of the time, a cell phone to keep in touch with loved ones, and bags to carry your purchases.

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Even if the stores provide bags, it’s good to have your own stronger bags- especially if you plan to carry them around for a bit before stashing them in your vehicle or somewhere else. 

Also, make sure that you bring your money before you leave your house, double-check to ensure that you have cash, cards, and vouchers that you need, as well as any catalogs or discount coupons. 

Finally, make sure that you bring your list and a pen/pencil. Keep it in a safe location so you can pull it out frequently to check things off as you make purchases. 

Plan Your Food. 

You’re thinking that this is probably a strange thing to worry about when surviving Black Friday shopping, and this is why it is easily overlooked, but it’s essential.

When you’re making your plan, you need to make sure to plan meals/snacks for your excursion.

When you get into the rush of shopping for bargains, it’s easy to forget about eating.

However, this will leave you feeling tired and irritable, which will make you more likely to blow up at your fellow shoppers when they grab up the last of a limited bargain right before you do. 

Stop by your favorite places to get water and juice, as well as roasted meats, steamed veggies, salads, sandwiches, rolls, and other healthy snacks.

Since it’s the day after Thanksgiving day, try to go easy on fast food and, if possible, avoid them altogether. 

Keep in mind that foods high in fats and sugars may give you a temporary burst of energy, you’ll end up with a big crash which will ruin your shopping experience. 

We’re almost certain this contributes massively to angry customers and the scenes you see at the store on this crazy day.

Plan for Breaks 

Even the most diehard shopper will wear out quickly from rushing around all day long.

In addition to making sure you are eating properly, make sure that you factor in time for breaks to take a breath.

This will help keep you from creating a black mood on Black Friday. 

Start Shopping! 

Once you’ve done all the planning and got your strategy mapped out, it’s time to head out with confidence. 

Don’t sleep in on this day; the early bird will get the worm. Most people are already out and about before the sun even comes up.

Most of the stores open earlier. Don’t assume that you can sleep until noon and get that giant flatscreen for half of the regular price.

They’ll be some of the first products snatched up. 

woman with shopping bags on street getting ready to survive black friday

Put on your game face and maintain determination and confidence.

You can’t sit back and think that you have a chance against the rest of the shoppers. If someone steps in front of you in line, be polite but assertive. 

Keep in mind, though; some people will be rude and do whatever it takes to get their hands on that limited bargain.

Be selective with your battles. After all, it’s only shopping. If you don’t like the way people behave, don’t push the issue because that bargain isn’t worth the potential bruises you’ll get. 

When you find that coveted item, make sure that you keep a tight hold on it.

Don’t put it in your basket, and then leave the basket unattended.

This will cause some people to be tempted, and that item will disappear when you turn your back. 

If possible, avoid standing in the layaway lines. You’ll end up standing there all day and miss out on those bargains in the other stores.

Plus, you run the risk of the item disappearing when you come to pick it up at the end of the layaway period. 

Maintain Your Sanity.

If you feel yourself getting angry, give yourself a reality check. Don’t be that person.

Staff and the co workers at retailers don’t deserve angry people storming around their shops.

Look at them as your friends or family and you’ll hopefully have a different perspective.

You also don’t deserve your mental health dented in the hopes of finding bargain prices (which are often not even bargains at all).

Again, it’s only shopping – and while it can be beneficial and fun to participate in the tradition in an orderly fashion, it’s not sensible or civil to act like it’s a race to the death.

If you start getting overly frustrated with the process, it’s time to go home. There’s more to life.

Don’t worry about those bargains – you need to take care of yourself. Save your sanity.

If you got the deal you wanted but had the worst day doing it, what was the point?

NOTE: It probably goes without saying, but don’t take small kids if you can avoid it. You don’t know how crowded the store will be and you definitely can’t prepare for how people will act on the day. Big raucous crowds could be dangerous for kids.

Alternative: Buy Nothing Day

How to survive Black Friday shopping for sure? Do nothing and buy nothing.

If you don’t feel like it would be a fun thing to participate in the tradition of Black Friday shopping, you can celebrate Buy Nothing Day.

It’s the same day as Black Friday, only you stay home and don’t buy anything instead. 

Don’t let the Black Friday ads fool you.

You DON’T have to buy into the hype and end up impulse buying things you likely don’t need.

Alternative: Do Your Black Friday Shopping Online

If, like us, the idea of fighting off other consumers for the best Black Friday deals is your idea of a nightmare, you could just survive Black Friday in the comfort and safety of your home..your personal bunker during the Black Friday weekend apocalypse.

Yep, we’re talking about going the boring route and finding the best online deals and sticking to online shopping.

If you don’t enjoy the adrenaline rush of a physical rush to the cash register, this is for you.

We have a whole other guide on how to get Black Friday deals online but the tips below should help.

You’ll still need to be diligent and map out the websites you want to visit when you shop online for the best deals because you can bet your bottom dollar, other people have got the same idea.

Here are some tips:

  • Bookmark the best deals or websites you usually browse in advance
  • Start early: set your alarm, wake up and find out when each website’s Black Friday sales really start
  • Have a shopping list so you’re not aimlessly browsing
  • Make a list of prices of items you are interested in BEFORE Black Friday, so you can compare prices.

Great deals often aren’t that great in context. Many retailers will show the pre-Black Friday price as more than it actually was to make it look like you’re saving more than you are.

Other retailers may use tactics like “limited quantities” and some we’ve even heard actually have a better price BEFORE Black Friday and just use the psychology of the event to charge more than the previous price which is shocking.

Be sure you do your due diligence before you buy things.


Many people participate in this tradition to save money, but there are some things you need to know to survive it.

Keep our above tips in mind, and you’ll be just fine and avoid being a part of the horror stories of years past.

Black Friday is celebrated the Friday after Thanksgiving in November.

It’s when retailers often get their bottom line “in the black.”

But ultimately, how to survive Black Friday? You might not even need to…

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