Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is regarded by many as the official start of the holiday retail season --- and a day when shopping is elevated to an art form --- and, in some cases, a full-contact sport.
After giving the matter much thought, the consumers affairs office and the retailers association drew up a list of shopping tips.
Herewith are some of their suggestions:
Know store policies about refunds, cancellations, returns, and layaways.
Bring ads with you. Before purchasing, make sure that the prices on the shelf and at the register match the advertised price.
Get receipts. Receipts help consumers confirm the price they paid and facilitate easier returns.
Use layaway. For an item that may sell out, putting it on layaway is a great way to pay at your convenience while not missing the deal because of limited supply. Shoppers should make sure to understand the layaway terms before putting money down--- missing a payment may mean you forfeit your purchase, and your money.
Watch for inflated prices and exaggerated markdowns. Some sellers will inflate the “regular” price of an item in order to increase the markdown and give the appearance of a deal when no money is actually saved.
Know when stores open. The Massachusetts Blue Laws prohibit stores from opening on Thanksgiving Day, but this is not the law in most states. National ad campaigns may not reflect this fact.
Use smartphone apps and social media for insider deals and promotions. “Friend” or “follow” your favorite stores to keep track of special promotions.
Consider down hours to avoid lines.
Shop local. Support your local merchants. Remember the importance to our Massachusetts economy of keeping your dollars local and supporting our local stores and restaurants and their employees. And don’t forget Small Business Saturday.
Take your time. With five weekends between Thanksgiving and Christmas, pace yourself with shopping trips. There will be many opportunities to research, comparison shop, and finish your list over the next five weeks.