As Americans flock to shopping centers and malls for the one of the year's busiest shopping days, being able to patiently navigate sales, stores, long lines and other shoppers will save your nerves and let you stay in the holiday spirit. • Nearly 80 million people shopped on Black Friday in 2009, according to the National Retail Federation. One in three shoppers arrived at stores by 5 a.m. last year, and the average shopper spent nearly $350 during the Thursday through Sunday shopping weekend. • Before you hit the mall on Black Friday, check the ads for sales and get your shopping list in order, said Tom Julian, a trend expert and president of Tom Julian Group, a New York-based retail and brand consultant agency. • Here are 10 tips for a stress-free shopping experience:
Do your homework. Julian encourages shoppers to compare prices online. Major credit cards may offer special deals with stores and brands. Certain malls, such as Simon, offer special discounts on their websites. Also, use catalogs, newspaper ads and circulars to make sure you are getting the right product at the right price.
Check out free mobile apps. Some cell phone apps allow shoppers to compare prices and products. Check circulars or online for special mobile codes or texting for sales.
Bring ads and lists with you. It's always better to be prepared.
Shop early. Big retailers start early and aggressively with sales, Julian said, so the best deals usually can be found at early bird specials and power-hour sales.
Dress the part. Wear comfortable clothes, especially shoes. Your feet will thank you.
Pack a survival kit. Stay hydrated and avoid hunger by packing water, snacks, energy bars or even lunch. Don't forget your cell phone charger just in case.
Zone out with tunes. An iPod or MP3 player with your favorite tunes can help zone out noise and chaos.
Bring reusable shopping bags. Be an eco-shopper by bringing your own shopping bags.
Get dropped off, if possible. Parking can be a major stressor, so Julian recommends getting someone to drop you off and pick you up.
Keep all receipts. National Retail Federation spokeswoman Kathy Grannis advises keeping all receipts in one place. Give gift receipts with your gifts, but always keep a separate receipt for yourself. "The last thing you want to do is deal with a hard return after the holidays," she said.