To snap up the biggest bargains of the year, you’re going to want to make sure that you shop at your favorite places on Black Friday. You can get everything from the latest technology to nail polish on sale for this big event.

However, there are some things that you need to be aware of this year. Shopping for this event isn’t the same as it was last year. Because of Covid, everything has changed, and you need to know how you can still get what’s on your list at huge discount prices.

You Will Still Be in Competition with Other Shoppers

Black Friday shopping usually brings up a lot of memories. There used to be hundreds of stores that were crowded wall to wall with people. You would often see large boxes protruding from overladen carts filled with all the latest deals.

There were long lines of holiday shoppers that snaked from the middle of the store to the front checkout. Patience could sometimes wear thin because there was little elbow room and personal space was non-existent as shoppers stood pressed together waiting for their turn to pay for the deals they’d scored.

But that was then. Times have changed. Now that it’s 2020 and much of the world is still reeling from a pandemic, that scenario won’t be repeated this year. Most stores aren’t offering in person deals for holiday shopping for the sake of safety.

These businesses don’t want the same previous Black Friday crowds gathering where social distancing could be a problem. They don’t want people spending a lot of time waiting in line while crammed together and risking further exposure to the virus.

While holiday shopping online might not have been the norm for many people, it will be this year. That can lead to the mistaken belief that online shopping won’t be as hectic as it would have been in person.

It will be safer from a virus standpoint, but just because you may not be able to physically visit all of your favorite shopping places this year, doesn’t mean that going online isn’t going to be as crowded.

Black Friday is still going to be the number one sales day of the year, wherever you’re doing your online shopping. Many people have been cooped up in their homes since Covid began and they’ve become used to using their devices to order stuff.

This is a trend will continue through the Black Friday event and will be one of the heaviest online shopping days. Because of that, you can’t afford to decide last minute that you’re going to hop online and start perusing sites for the goods that you want.

Stores are geared up for this change. Most of these stores have been stocking up in preparation for the throngs of online shoppers who will hit their sites. But that doesn’t mean you don’t need to get ready right now.

Because of the changes in how shopping is being done, the competition for the deals is going to be just as heavy as it was physically going to a store. But if you’re prepared ahead of time, you can not only get what you have on your shopping list, but you can score the best deals, too.

Just like in everything else in life, opportunities always boil down to timing. You can’t expect that you can simply show up whenever and get the hottest items at the lowest prices.

You have to be at the top of your shopping game. Some people think that means you need to be the early bird in order to be first. Surprisingly, that’s not necessarily true in every situation.  

The Changes in Shopping Times for Black Friday

There’s a saying that goes, “the early bird gets the worm” and because of that, many online shoppers think that if they want to get the best deals, they have to be parked in front of their devices half awake and ready to quickly order the minute the site sales go live.

What you need to understand is that Black Friday online shopping isn’t going to have a perfect shopping hour. Because the early shoppers have been able to grab the best deals when they physically went to stores on past Black Friday events, it’s a common myth to think the same strategy is in play online.

When people went to the store to buy things before, there were door buster sales and it was first come, first served. This is often why you’d see so many people jostling one another to get to the displays – scenes that often played out in highlight reels on the news that evening.

It’s also true that many stores had limited quantities of some of the best items. So those “steal of a deals” on things like electronics were quickly out of stock. But that’s not the case with shopping online this year.

There will be sales going on throughout the day. What you might have some struggles with will be due to the sheer number of people online. When too many people visit a website at once, it can cause a site slow down.

Sometimes, it can even cause that site to be unavailable for periods of time or even crash altogether. You might also run into issues where you find something that you like, so you put it in your cart and keep shopping – but when you go to check out, the item is no longer available.

The ideal time to shop for the Black Friday sales event will be as soon as the event begins for whatever retailer you’re buying from. Usually, the sales begin at midnight. So if you want something, make sure you’re ready to buy before the traffic hits.

But if you’re not someone who can make the midnight opening, then try to get to the shopping right before 7 in the morning. This is going to be considered the online shopping rush hours.

The rush hour will usually clear up by 11 in the morning and there will be a lull. But then you’ll hit afternoon or early evening shopping traffic. Many people stop shopping later in the evenings because they think that all the best deals are gone by then, but that’s not true.

Some sites will have specials running throughout the entire day. That means that if you can’t make the early morning or afternoon shopping hours, you should still be able to land some good deals for the ones on your shopping list.

Whatever time you do choose to get your shopping done, it’s imperative that you have a plan because that will make the difference between getting what you want and missing out.

What Hasn’t Changed Is Getting the Important Items First

Shopping online this year means that you may be faced with a greater number of shoppers. Because of that change, it can’t be stressed enough that you need to get the important items on your list first.

These are going to be items that will sell out fast. It’s not like shopping on any other day, where the stores will just turn around and order more. You can’t get the same item and you can’t get it for the same low price. 

Once the stock is gone, those deals are over – even if the shopping day hasn’t ended yet. The important items on your list might be whatever the hottest, most sought after item is this year.

That item will vary, depending on the category that you’re shopping. For example, toys are always a hot category and certain items always make the top spot year after year. If you remember the Hatchimals a few years back, it was one of the most in demand items around and this toy was extremely difficult to find for many shoppers.

Some people weren’t able to buy one at all. So if you know that what you’re after is something that’s on a lot of peoples’ must-have lists or you see that it’s already trending prior to the shopping day, especially if it’s electronics, get that item in your cart and check out as soon as possible.

If you’re not sure what’s hot or you don’t know what to get that’s a must-buy for someone you care about, you can look it up online to see if there’s a buzz about it. There’s a trick to getting what you want first.

Even if you have other items to buy from the same site, get that hot, in demand item paid for first. This might mean that you have to make more than one transaction and payment, but it’ll be worth it to beat the disappointment from losing that item to another shopper.

Make sure you know what you could lose first. Some of the predicted items this year that might sell out quickly are the latest gaming consoles and laptops. You need to be cautious, though.

If you want a great deal on one of these items and you put it in your cart, then you go do other shopping, the person who jumps in to pay first will get priority, even if that item shows up in your cart.

This is why something with a limited supply can show as available for you to put in your cart, only to discover later that you didn’t get it. Most online stores have automated systems that will not reserve items even if they show as placed in a shopping cart.

What happens is many online stores have systems that set a time limit for items in the cart before they’re considered abandoned. They also look at guaranteed payment for an item versus shopping cart holds.

There are also cases of shopper sniping. The time of day you shop can matter in this instance, too. If you know that something like a game console might be the kind of item that will sell out quickly (which has happened repeatedly in the past), you want to try to be the early bird before supplies are gone.

Changing Strategies So You Can Shop Across Multiple Sites

If you’re like most people, you do your holiday shopping in various stores. This year, you might visit several different websites to find all the deals that you want. This takes planning just as much as going in person does.

Make sure that you bookmark the sites you plan to visit ahead of time. Once Black Friday hits, you’ll have to navigate multiple systems across various retailers and you’ll be too busy to search for items.

You’ll also be in a race against dwindling supplies. You don’t want to waste precious time trying to pull up the retailer, then trying to find the items that you want. Map everything out first for each site.

While the sales aren’t up and activated weeks ahead of time for many shops, that doesn’t mean you can’t go ahead and scout out what’s going to be there. Online retailers don’t wait until the last minute to put up all their items.

They go ahead and list them and just leave them up at the regular price until the sale event begins. So you’ll be able to go to their Black Friday sales page and check out what’s going to be offered during their deal time long before the sales event ever arrives.

Be sure to bookmark that exact item and not just the main site. This way, the second the sale does kick in, all you have to do is click and order. Put your sites on a list of what you which one you want to visit first and so on.

Also, if you have coupon codes or discounts that aren’t from that site, get those lined up ahead of time so you can just copy and paste them into the application box. If you don’t know where you can find these codes or discounts, most online stores will have these listed either on their site’s main page or somewhere on whichever social media site they use.

Because some sites will have surprise sales during the event, if you’re juggling multiple sites, set up an automated alert so that you get notified when these online door busters go live. That way, even if you’re not on the site, you’ll still have the opportunity to go back and get something you’d like to have.

Have Your Gift Giving List Ready

Not everyone is easy to shop for no matter how great the deals are. Before the sales event happens, ask the people you plan to buy for if they can give you some ideas on what they’d like to have.

There are two reasons that you want to do this. First, you’ll be able to get the people you care about something they’ll really enjoy and will actually use. Knowing this information can help you create a winning shopping strategy.

Some people might suggest items from sites you hadn’t planned on visiting online. But knowing ahead of time will enable you to add the site to your map. Check out the sites that you’re not familiar with ahead of time.

While most will allow for guest checkout options, some of them will not. They want you to create an account with them first. If that’s the case, that can take away some of the time you have to battle for the best deals.

You’ll have to input your info and try to create a password. But if you have all of that filled in ahead of time, you can grab what you want ahead of other shoppers. When there are multiple sites that require you to input your sign-in information, you want have this info already gathered so that you have it on hand.

You can also use a password saver tool like RoboForm that you set up especially for Black Friday that will allow you to quickly login to all the sites you need to access. Make a master list that has each person you plan to buy for on it.

Under that person’s name, put their first choice and second choice gift ideas. Then put the amount of money that you’ve budgeted for that gift. This will help you in two ways. First, it’ll help you not overspend.

Second, if you end up spending a lot less than you anticipated, you can use the leftover money to buy something extra for that person or even a special goodie for yourself. On this master list, beside the gift you plan to get for that person, have direct links to the gift item.

You can go straight from your list to the website and order. If you have someone to buy for and they don’t know what they want, check out their favorite items by going to that person’s social media account. See what they post most often about such as books, traveling, coffee, etc. That way, you can buy them something that’s related to the category that they like.

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