Don’t be plagued by a bad shopping experience this Black Friday

ImageIt’s that time of year again! One of the busiest shopping events of the year is right around the corner. While some Black Friday shoppers will stick to online purchases, others are preparing to brave the crowds to snag a good deal on their holiday gifts.

According to a preliminary Thanksgiving weekend shopping survey conducted by the National Retail Federation (NRF), up to 140 million people plan to shop over the weekend. Of those, 97 million shoppers plan to shop on Black Friday. In 2012, the average holiday shopper spent $423 and total spending reached an estimated $59.1 billion.

Better Business Bureau serving Central, Coastal, Southwest Texas and the Permian Basin has these seven tips to help consumers save time, stress and money on this busy shopping weekend:

1. Plan ahead. Take time to print out or clip ads for items you are interested in buying to help outline your shopping day in advance.

2. Create a budget. Know whom you are buying gifts for and how much you are willing to spend. As you buy gifts, keep track of the cost and avoid impulse purchases to prevent over-spending.

3. Research products. Just because an item is in high-demand and being offered at a low price, doesn’t mean the product is worthwhile or right for you. Thoroughly research any product you’re interested in purchasing to see how it is performing in the marketplace.

4. Don’t be misled by tricky advertisements. Read the fine print on all advertised sales to make sure you are truly saving money, and bring the ad with you. Watch for discrepancies in advertised prices and the prices on the shelf. Verify the real price before checking out.

5. Ask about return policies. Many stores have a 30-day return policy, but it is important to read the terms and conditions associated with each purchase. And remember that the refund policy usually applies to the day you purchase the item not when you give the item as a gift.

6. Think twice about store credit cards. Some retailers will offer additional savings to incentivize consumers to sign up for their credit card. However, these cards often times carry high interest rates or annual fees. If you do not plan on shopping at a particular retailer very often, the credit card might not be financially beneficial for you.

7. Keep your receipt. Always keep a purchase receipt with you in case you need to return the item for any reason. If you don’t want a printed receipt, stores may be able to email one.