As many as 70 percent of Americans plan to shop on Black Friday this year, according to a recent NerdWallet study conducted by The Harris Poll.
But the nature of the day centered around shopping can almost certainly cause excessive spending.
Here are three ways to find out whether participating in Black Friday is really – or really wrong – for you.
CONSIDER WHAT YOU BUY
Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is known for its long lines, large crowds, and low prices.
And while holiday shopping often offers offers that are second to none on items such as electronics, certain items are cheaper at other times of the year.
Clothing is generally cheap on Black Friday, but some clothes reach the lowest prices out of season, according to Charlie Graham, founder and CEO of Shop It to Me, a sales warning application.
"If you are really penny-pin, you can find better offers when items go beyond permission from Black Friday and Cyber Monday," Graham said about some clothes.
Think of buying swimsuits at the end of winter or sweaters in the middle of summer.
TIP: Consider the item you want on Black Friday and note it. Then, check out the Black Friday ad to see if the product will be sold. Retailers usually release their previous ads – online, by email, or by post. If you don't see what you want at the price you want, think about waiting to buy.
CONSIDER WHY YOU BUY
Of those planning to shop at Black Friday stores, 42 percent said they planned to do so because they enjoyed the sensation inside the store (for example, a doorbuster deal, camped outside the store the night before), according to the NerdWallet study.
Enjoying this annual tradition is one thing, but shopping "just because" is not always a good idea. Even if you have set a budget before wearing your sneakers and standing in the cold, you may be vulnerable to making additional purchases once you are among merchandise.
On Black Friday, retailers compete to get a share of your wallet, said Jeff Inman, a marketing professor at the University of Pittsburgh and chief editor of the Journal of Consumer Research.
Traditionally, retailers have attracted Black Friday buyers with some great deals – called "loss leaders" – and hope they will buy additional items too. Imagine going for TV and going out with clothes and Christmas decorations too.
While Inman says he doesn't always see buyers with large baskets on Black Friday, he shows toys as one category where buyers can show up for something even if they don't see it in Black Friday ads.
For example, when you are in a store, you might find a toy and decide to buy it for your niece for Christmas. This is not necessarily impulse buying; You have planned to buy a gift for your niece. But because you don't know the exact item you want to buy, he calls choosing this toy an "impulse allocation" from your holiday shopping budget.
This is not a problem if you can afford it, but be aware of this possibility when you set foot in the store.
TIP: Think about why you want to shop on Black Friday, and whether you are financially ready. If you are not sure you can resist the temptation to exceed your budget, consider skipping.
CONSIDER WHEN YOU BUY
Finally, plan your time. With offers being launched earlier each year, some Black Friday sales actually occur throughout Thanksgiving week, according to Graham from Shop It to Me.
"To compete with each other, retailers have pushed their sales earlier and earlier during the week," Graham said.
Therefore, sometimes buyers can get Black Friday-level prices before Black Friday.
TIP: Although this may not apply to every product category, monitor sales in the days leading up to Black Friday for early picks at good prices.
STAY OR GO?
After you decide what, why and when to shop for your Black Friday, you will be able to decide whether you should join the crowd or stay on the couch.
This article was given to The Associated Press by the NerdWallet personal finance website. Courtney Jespersen is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: [email protected]. Twitter: @courtneynerd.
NerdWallet: 2018 Holiday Shopping Report