Cheryl Parson: Helpful tips for holiday shopping


By Cheryl Parson - Better Business Bureau

According to the History Channel, Black Friday originated in the city of Philadelphia in the early 1950s. Legend has it that on the Friday after Thanksgiving, hordes of shoppers flooded in the city before Saturday’s then-huge Army-Navy football game, causing so much bedlam and traffic, the Philly cops couldn’t take the day off. The chaotic day was dubbed “Black Friday.”

Many Philadelphia merchants took advantage of the crowds and offered great “Black Friday” bargains. In the late 1980s the term “Black Friday” began to catch on nationwide as merchants offered early morning bargains to lure customers.

Today Black Friday has grown to become a shopping season that now includes Cyber Monday. Shoppers no longer have to rely solely on Thanksgiving Day newspaper ads or go store-to-store to garner the best bargains. Whether you decide to brave the crowds or shop online it is always a good idea to be prepared. Our holiday shopping tips below can help you get great deals, avoid frustration and be safe.

1. Create a budget and stick to it. If you actually write down your budget, deducting purchases as you go, you’re more likely to adhere to your spending limits. Black Friday sales are designed to get you into the store with the hope you’ll spend more.

2. Make a shopping list and stick to it too. As with your budget, if you cross your purchases off your list, you’ll be less likely to make costly impulse purchases. Take the ad along with you in case you need to reference the sale or take advantage of the retailer’s price match offers.

3. Be prepared, do your homework. Study the ads, both in print and online. Start the weekend before Thanksgiving. Even today, if you go online, you’ll see many retailers already have their Black Friday specials published. Websites such as have Black Friday links to many of the nation’s top retailers, all in one spot. Research each store’s return policies, especially on final sale items.

4. Pay with a credit card. This tip comes with the caveat however: only charge if you can pay off the credit card in full and on time. Credit cards offer some terrific safety features. You don’t have to carry large amounts of cash and if you use a credit card for all your purchases, you often receive purchase protection and extended warranties as well.

5. Always get a gift receipt. Although you may think it’s the greatest gift ever sometimes the receiver doesn’t see it the same way. Including a gift receipt allows the recipient to easily return anything.

6. Start early. Many stores advertise Early Bird deals and Night Owl specials. If you find a deal that you really have to get, be prepared to arrive at the store well in advance of opening.

7. Stay home and shop online. And not just on Cyber Monday. According to the website, if you’re an online shopper hoping to get the best price and avoid the item you want selling out, Thanksgiving Day is the best time to buy. When shopping online, be aware of free shipping offers and policies. Use price-comparison sites like and to make sure you’re getting the best deal. Be sure the site you’re purchasing from is secure by looking for the lock icon and “Https” in the site’s web address on your browser window.

Finally, have fun! Following these tips will help you keep from getting caught up in the chaos and frenzy of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. And if you don’t get a couple of the items on your list just remember … there’s always next year!

By Cheryl Parson

Better Business Bureau

Cheryl Parson is president of the Better Business bureau serving West Central Ohio. The BBB may be found on the Internet at

Cheryl Parson is president of the Better Business bureau serving West Central Ohio. The BBB may be found on the Internet at

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