For millions of Americans, Black Friday marks the height of the holiday season. The pros, stocked with elaborate camping gear to help satisfy their creature comforts, eagerly bask in the soft glow of their favorite big-box store and claim their spot in line the night before stores open. Then there are the others, who either secretly enjoy the thrill of grabbing that last didn’t-really-need-it-but-I-had-to-have-it score or are dragged by the hair to be used as backup for a loved one.
Regardless of your Black Friday participation level, you’ll be out amongst anxious masses looking to score deep discounts on favorite holiday gift list items. Once the effects of a belly stuffed with turkey wear off, it will be GO TIME. And you’ll need to be prepared if you want to return home unscathed.
Consider these tips and proceed with caution.
- Wear sensible clothes
Remember, before the doorbusters comes the button busting. Chances are you overindulged on Thanksgiving dinner, so athletic stretchy pants and drawstrings will be your best friend. Not only are they comfortable on the waistline, they’ll improve your performance as you make a mad dash towards the electronics section.
Wear closed-toe, comfortable shoes to protect your feet from being stepped on and to help you avoid strain from extensive walking. It’s also important to check the weather and prepare for fluctuations in temperature by dressing in layers so that you are comfortable.
- Create a schedule and map your path
Stores have been announcing extended hours and offering earlier openings the past few years and this year will be no different. Check Black Friday ads or store websites and social media accounts for special holiday hours and organize your list by geographic proximity so that you’re less exposed to the dangers of too many cars on the road. Using ride-share services, like Uber or Lyft, are also safer options if the idea of traffic makes you nervous.
Once you arrive at the store, ask an associate for directions to the item you are searching for. Black Friday deals are not always in the department you might expect them to be. Knowing where to go will help you get past other confused shoppers at the entrance of the store, getting you to your item faster and more safely.
- Pack snacks
Having a few snacks and drinks will keep you energized and hydrated throughout the day, preventing you from feeling tired or sick. Don’t bring things you’ll have to lug around after they’re consumed, like thermoses or lunch packs, as they’ll just be another thing to think about while shopping.
- Figure out the ticket system
Many stores use a ticket system to organize crowds on Black Friday. Store associates hand out tickets to people waiting in line for certain products. Once you’ve collected a ticket, you won’t have to worry about navigating the chaos of locating your item.
- Consider heavy lifting a team sport
If you're eyeing a heavy or bulky item like a TV or shiny new set of pots and pans, you’ll need a cart and a hand from a friend to nab it. Practice safe lifting techniques by making sure your back is supported and bearing all the weight on your hips and knees. Never bend forward to lift something heavy as you can become injured. If you experience back pain that causes numbness or weakness in one or both of your legs, loss of bladder or bowel control, or are unable to urinate, go to your local emergency room immediately as you may have caused injury to your spine.
- Keep a positive mindset
The most important thing to remember about Black Friday shopping is that nothing is guaranteed. You may not get what you’re looking for. Things will change. People will be unpredictable. Keeping a positive mindset is the key to a successful day of shopping. Fellow shoppers may not be doing the same. By accepting that things happen, you won’t get sucked into the frenzy.
- Or… extend your vacation to Cyber Monday
While everyone loves a good deal, Black Friday shopping is not for everyone. It’s physically demanding and you probably won’t be able to get everything you want.
Take a vacation day on Cyber Monday and do all of your shopping from the comfort of your own home. With most stores offering free shipping and exclusive online deals, you’ll get everything on your list with ease.