shopping bagsWASHINGTON D.C., Nov 18, 2010 / — Fail to prepare = prepare to fail! Make your Black Friday shopping trip as successful (and enjoyable!) as possible by following these tips from the National Retail Federation

Before Black Friday

  • Make a list of absolutely everyone you need to buy for and how much you plan to spend on them before visiting any store.

Be sure to remember any co-workers, teachers and other non-family and friends. If you know who you need to buy for and how much you can afford to spend, you can make best use of retailers ‘Buy Two Get Third Free’ type deals.

  • Use the Internet to check and compare prices and products before heading out the door. You can also sign up to receive emails from your favorite retailers .

Be vigilant about searching for holiday promotions in newspapers and on their website as well. Not only will you save time by researching ahead of time, you’ll also save money on gas by not driving all over town.

  • Know retailers’ return and exchange policies. Return policies vary, so knowing ahead of time whether or not you will have to ship back returns or exchanges or if you can return them to the physical store in your area will help in the long run.

On Black Friday

  • Remember when gift shopping you are buying for someone else’s wants and needs, not your own. Deciding whether you like a certain item isn’t really the point… The question is, will Great Aunt Margaret like it?

Having said that, don’t be afraid to take full advantage of holiday promotions you see on products you would like yourself. Treat yourself to something nice!

  • Save yourself the guesswork and buy gift cards, especially for babysitters, newspaper carriers, doormen, teachers and other recipients of smaller-value gifts.

They are a perfect way to let gift recipients choose what they want and a great way to stick to a budget.

  • When walking through the mall or down Main Street, wear comfortable shoes! You’ll be walking on a lot of marble, concrete and tile.

Make sure you have water and snacks with you too, or stop for lunch. This will give you time to check your list and prioritize the rest of the time you have that day.

After you’ve made your purchases

  • Staple a gift receipt to the merchandise tag in case it needs to be returned or exchanged. Keep your original receipts with any warranty paperwork for the life of the warranty.

Save yourself the headache: let the charity group at the mall wrap your gifts for you. This will save you a lot of time and free you up to do other things on your holiday to-do lists.

  • Get any packages you are sending to people in the mail right away. Things are only going to get busier from here on out!