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November 24, 2013

Getting Ready for Black Friday – Tips from a fellow shopper

Black Friday is one of my favorite days of the year. I think it is the thrill of getting the best deals and completing all of my holiday shopping by December 1st that gets me excited. My family and friends think that I am a little nuts but after a great Thanksgiving meal, I immediately turn my attention toward the fabulous shopping spree to come.

I usually begin my research in early November and then get up early on Thanksgiving morning to get the newspaper to validate my research. With my Surface, I am able to keep things organized and prepared for my 15-18 hour shopping day. My husband thinks that I am crazy, and in many ways he is right, but this year I’ve invited him on the journey because we are having a baby (due in April) and have added baby supplies to our shopping list this year.  I am going to need another set of hands and an abundance of morale support so he is signed up for his first Black Friday.  Wish him luck!

This year I did a ton of planning on my Surface and I am excited to share some tips I picked up along the way to help with your Black Friday shopping. I’m sure you know all about wearing comfortable shoes, layered clothing, drinking coffee, etc. but here are a few tricks I found super useful when preparing for this extravagant shopping spree:

  1. Shop the ads before Black Friday. It is important prior to setting out on your journey to review all of the online Black Friday ads you can find. I usually go to to see the latest ads from major retailers. You should do all your research prior to heading to the store. The years I am investing in major electronics or home appliances, I even head to the stores beforehand to see the products in person and I also make sure to read the online reviews.Another great way to check the latest Black Friday deals is the download the free Black Friday app on the Windows Stores onto your Surface. This app helps you find great deals for all kinds of merchandise both online and in stores.

  2. Identify your favorite deals. Keep track of your top must have items this season so you don’t miss out. One of my favorites this year that I can’t wait to purchase is the original 32GB Surface which will be available for $199. I can’t wait to get a couple for my parents and other family members! You can pick these up either at your local Microsoft Store or online.
  3. Keep track in Excel. The easiest way for me to keep track of all these deals is to use Microsoft Excel. I usually have three lists going. One for the people I need to buy for and personal items I think we might need in our home, the second is the list of stores with the deals I’m interested in and who I am giving that gift too, and the final list is the store hours for the shops that I intend to visit. A great way on your Surface to help compile these lists is to use the split screen where you have one with Excel open and one with the Internet Explorer app. It just makes it easier to organize versus toggling back and forth.
  4. Map your route and shop close to home. Once you’ve completed your planning, the next step is to figure out your course for the day. Which store should you begin with? How far should you travel? Your first store should be the one you think you will get the best deals at and that opens early. This year some retailers are opening earlier than normal and will have door buster deals. Those are the ones I am targeting first on my route. Using my Surface, I plot each store from my Excel sheet onto a driving route I create using Bing Maps. Just remember that the best deals are limited time offers or limited quantities so be sure to plot your route carefully. Another tip is to shop as close to home as possible that way if your car is too full with bulkier items, you will have time in your route map to drop things off.  I always end my trip at my favorite mall which allows me to take inventory of what items I was successfully able to secure then fill in the gaps to complete my holiday shopping.
  5. Leverage SkyDrive. One of my favorite apps on my Surface is SkyDrive. Once I’m done with my Excel sheet and Bing Maps Route. I usually load all that information to SkyDrive. This helps me sync it to my Windows Phone so I don’t have to carry around any paper with me. It also allows me to assign a few things to my husband to pick up while we divide and conquer.
  6. Take breaks. Black Friday power shopping is not a sprint, it’s not even a marathon it is the Iron Man Triathlon of the shopping season. Be prepared to take a minute to eat breakfast and grab a coffee at your favorite spot. Be sure to add that into your schedule so you don’t burn out early. Over the course of the day, I usually take 3-4 breaks. One around midnight, one around 4am, and one around 11am.   Just remember that if you are tired, don’t push yourself and head on home. There will still be a ton of deals running on Sat. and Sun.
  7. Keep your receipts and check return policies. Once I am done with my day long shopping spree, I usually come home for a nap but Black Friday shopping isn’t done yet, you still have two more things to do. In the evening on Friday I usually check my original list and mark off the presents I purchased. I then go back through my pile of goodies and determine which ones need to be returned or exchanged. Remember to keep ALL receipts and check the return policies.
  8. Wrap and ship. The last thing to do during Black Friday weekend is to wrap all of the presents and get the gifts headed to out of town ready for shipping. I have a lot of family overseas that I ship gifts too for the holidays, so I like to do that early to ensure the gifts make it on time.  There is nothing worse than getting the “we’ve finally received you gifts” call three weeks after the holidays have passed.
  9. Relax, you are all done. One of my favorite parts of Black Friday shopping is that all through December I am completely stress free. Since I’ve shopped, wrapped, and shipped everything early I now have the luxury to enjoy the holidays. I love being able to relax at home and watch a few holiday movies on Netflix using my Surface.

Good luck on your Black Friday shopping journey. I hope that you find my tips useful and most of all remember to have fun out there!

Emilie Bridon
Surface – Senior Digital Marketing Manager