Etiquette & Shopping Tips for Black Friday Don’t let the biggest shopping day of the year get the best of you this holiday season, follow these 6 tips. BY DIANE GOTTSMAN
Black Friday starts early, be prepared and stay courteous.
“ Although you may encounter other shoppers who are obnoxious or downright rude in their quest for savings, wear a smile and remember that you chose willingly to be a part of Black Friday.”
The holiday shopping season officially kicks off on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. In case you have just popped out of a time warp, this chaotic day is when stores open their doors early, slash prices and are swarmed by throngs of bargain-seeking shoppers.
It’s a wonderful opportunity to score some great deals and cross several items off your shopping list. But in the competitive shopping frenzy, it’s easy to get carried away. Here are six steps for successfully surviving the day with shopping goals met and your dignity intact.
1. Eat breakfast and wear comfortable shoes. There will be no time to waste and you certainly don't want to be distracted by a growling stomach or unwanted blisters.
2. Make a list and check it twice. Write down the people you’re shopping for, what you want to find for them (it’s also good to have some alternate gift ideas on your list) and how much you plan to spend. Next, identify the stores you need to visit, what items you’ll be looking for at each, and plan your excursion accordingly.
3. Don't expect one to one attention. This is not the day to expect sales staff to dote on you—they will be slammed. If you think you’ll need a lot of help from a sales associate, come back another day when everyone has gone back to work. It’s best to do your research ahead of time on which game system is best for little Johnny instead of expecting to find someone who can talk you through all the nuances of each option today. Find out Aunt Susie’s shoe size ahead of time, rather than trying to guess with several shoppers waiting to place their order for Uggs.
4. Waiting is not optional. Shopping on Black Friday is a waiting game: you may line up before the store opens and wait to enter; you may wait to have a sales associate help you; you will almost certainly wait in line to pay for your purchases; and you’ll likely do some waiting in traffic. So leave home with plenty of patience and allow yourself plenty of time to get through the lines. It may not be the best day to schedule lunch with a friend if you end up stuck in a store panicking and watching the minutes tick by as you wait to pay.
5. Keep it short and sweet. At most stores, the sales staff will be swamped. Ask for help if you need it, but be mindful and respectful of their time. Keep your questions and interactions with them polite and concise so they can help you and move on to other customers. Do remember to ask the cashier for a gift receipt for your purchases.
6. Keep your manners handy. Yes, it can be a stressful day. But with the right mindset, it can also be fun. Regardless of the aggressive crowd or your own stress level, attempt to keep your composure and act in a manner that you can be proud of if you are caught on a television camera. Although you may encounter other shoppers who are obnoxious or downright rude in their quest for savings, keep your cool, wear a smile and remember that you chose willingly to be a part of Black Friday. If it becomes too overwhelming, remember that Small Business Saturday, a day dedicated to shopping and supporting your small neighborhood businesses, is just 24 hours away; and Cyber Monday is right around the corner. There are always great bargains (and often, free shipping!) to be found online from the comfort of your home.
Diane Gottsman, a nationally recognized etiquette expert, is the owner of The Protocol School of Texas, a company specializing in etiquette training for corporations, universities and individuals, striving to polish their interpersonal skills. You can reach Diane at 877-490-1077 or www.protocolschooloftexas.com. You can also follow her on Twitter @: www.twitter.com/DianeGottsman.