Without proper preparation, shoppers run the risk of botching their Black Friday strategies.
On this glorious shopping day, consumers are a bit like soldiers evading land mines on a battlefield: turn down the wrong aisle or purchase the wrong product, they're done for.
To scoop up the hottest discounts — and to avoid looking like a turkey — the Register talked to a shopping expert who specializes in holiday deal hunting.
Andrea Conti, owner of Andrea's Concierge Service, near Akron, offered five essential tips to help make any seasonal shopping spree successful. Her website is andreasconciergeservice.com.
1. Read all the ads: They're in today's Register by the ton. Reading ads can help you figure out what store has the best buy for you.
2. Compare prices: Good websites are bizrate.com and shoplocal.com. Some places offer items at a reduced price, but the product may be watered down. If you're buying something, make sure it has all the features you want so you don't have to spend more money later.
3. Research products in advance: Don't wait until the night before to figure out what you're buying. If you do have to cram, find the product's rating and a related consumer report, especially with electronic products.
4. Organize your trip: Go to the stores with the best buys first, and make sure the sales aren't restricted by time. If a sale is 5-6 a.m. and you really want something, you should go to that store first.
5. Know the return policies and save your receipts: Some stores may change their policies on returns, refunds or exchanges for products bought on Black Friday. Almost all stores require receipts when returning a product.
Pick up Thursday's Register for all the ads you'll need to plan your excursion and for more on how local police and retailers have prepared for the madness.
Black Friday sales
A number of area retailers are open Thursday night and early Friday morning, but a great many of the bigger sales are slated to begin at these times:
Midnight: Sandusky Mall; Best Buy; Dick's Sporting Goods; Dunham's Sports; Kohl's; Macy's (mall); Old Navy; Target; Toys "R" Us; Ulta
4 a.m.: MC Sports; Sears
5 a.m.: Home Depot; Kmart; Menards; Ollie's Bargain Outlet; Staples; Walmart
6 a.m.: Bed Bath & Beyond; Big Lots; JCPenney (mall); Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft; Meijer (24 hours open)
7 a.m.: Sam's Club