Picture: 123RF/kotoffei
Picture: 123RF/kotoffei

You can feel it in the air: anticipation so obvious you can cut it with an (on-special) knife. Black Friday is upon us, and no matter what you tell yourself, the minute those shop doors open no amount of cardio prep would have been enough.

The plague of blight Friday, which was first celebrated in the US the day after Thanksgiving, has been wreaking havoc on our shores the past few years. This week will not be different. There will be bloodshed over television sets, there will be add-to-cart violent warfare; but in the end, some of us will be victorious – not to mention a little broke by the experience.

We are here with our expert experience to give you the best tips on how to be a part of that winning circle. Trust us – we practically shop for a living.

Eyes on the prize

You may have seen the adverts and temptations already: targeted Facebook ads promising you the best deals this week. We have already received messages about specials on everything from MacBooks to high heels, Bluetooth speakers and Venus flytraps. Everyone wants your money; it is up to you to make sure you do not get caught up in the hype. Of course it would be nice to get that electric toothbrush, that necklace or those cute Birkenstocks sandals you have been eyeing for a while, but deep down you know what you really need is ... a lawnmower. Now is the time for both spoiling and practical magic. Get your house, holiday gifts and bank balance sorted before you get distracted by “why nots”.

Keep it close to the chest

Don’t let that PlayStation out of your sight on game day, but also know where to find it. “Knowing thy mall” is an SA pastime, but those routes will serve you well in the end. And online, the best place to find what you’re looking for in is your wishlist. Do your homework, download those apps – yes, I will accept notifications about Instax cameras from the Superbalist site – and have all the things you prize one click away. It’ll save you valuable time before someone else nabs it or the sites crash.

Quick draw at high noon

Know when your preferred sales start. Some of them start early, whereas others, like firm favourite Takealot, start on Thursday at noon.

Timing is everything

Contrary to what you may believe, many of the big brick-and-mortar stores don’t put out everything in one go. They keep some things in the back and rotate stock throughout the day. So no, getting trampled at 6am, 3 hours before opening time, isn’t always necessary – 3pm sometimes works out being as good a time as any. It’s a risk, of course, because due to demand – and fear for their lives – store clerks may still choose to submit to the whims of the “I want to speak to your manager” middle-aged housewife and go in the back to pick up your potential late-afternoon spoil. But crushed toes in sandal season are not sexy.

Divide and conquer

Teamwork makes the dream work. If you divide up the shops, tasks and duties you can always get more done and avoid double dipping on purchases. Make the experience a truly family affair; bring in that surly cousin of yours for tactical support. If each of you take a different product – checking out the best deal on a Lenovo laptop – or store – Apple Watch manoeuvring at the iStore – you will achieve more and be less frustrated than you would trying to do it all at once.

Always pack snacks

It’s going to be a long day and the ones who have the sugar levels and hydration to support them through it will be victorious. Also, being “hangry” in a mob is always a bad idea.