How to have stress-free 'Black Friday'

The sacrifices people make for great deals! It's that time of the year again, and there's no sleeping allowed — only shopping. Some folks have gone to great lengths to get a remarkable deal on Black Friday, falling this year on Nov. 25.

Local experts have made it easier on people by sharing advice on how to get great deals, shop at ease, and catch the local events happening on Friday.

Judy Pritchett, general manager at Southlake Mall, said people should download the Morrow-based mall's free app (application) on their smartphone. "It's a great way to prepare for Black Friday, because it will save you money," she assured.

She said the app will send notifications to customers about sales occurring at their favorite stores at Southlake. The app also has a map of Southlake, and other malls owned by General Growth Properties, a shopping center business that develops, operates, and manages shopping malls in 45 states.

She said the app will identify the nearest parking spaces to a customer's favorite stores at the mall. Once the app is downloaded on a smartphone, the user can customize his or her preferences, and input favorite stores at Southlake, said Pritchett. There are approximately 100 stores at the mall, she added.

She said Macy's will open at midnight on Black Friday, along with some other stores, such as American Eagle Outfitters, Express, and Hot Topic.

Mall shoppers will find surprise giveaways starting at 6 a.m., she said. "They will be little items like gifts, and purchase incentives," she said.

Macy's will offer such sales as 50 percent off on Sharper Image iphone/ipod docking stations; Rampage boots for $19.99, and Kenneth Cole New York and Nautica overcoats for $99.99, added Georgi Morales Pipkin, a spokesperson for Macy's. For more information, visit www.macys.com.

"Macy's Black Friday specials offer customers extraordinary savings on this season's most sought-after gifts," said Terry Lundgren, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Macy's Inc. "This year, in response to our customers' eagerness to shop early for great deals, Macy's stores across the country will open for the first time at midnight following Thanksgiving."

At Southlake Mall, continued Pritchett, a "Santa Set" will be available for children, and parents can purchase photography packages as well.

Saxophonist Jason Bitten will perform, said Pritchett. The time of his performance is not definite and people should check the mall's web site for updates, at www.soulthlakemall.com, she said.

"Customers of the Southern Crescent will be pleased," said Pritchett.

She said prior to Nov. 25, shoppers should prepare themselves by checking their favorite stores' Black Friday sales online and developing a relationship with their sales representatives. "They may be able to hold an item for you," she said.

Shoppers, she said, should map out a plan for the day and not make unrealistic shopping goals. "You don't want to create so much stress," she said.

Jessica Brady, spokeswoman for AAA's The Auto Club Group, said there are several ways to save while holiday shopping this year. Consumers should take advantage of retail and online discounts, she said.

Online shoppers should search for free shipping offers and the dates they are available on a company's web site, she said. People should also check store circulars for in-store sales and coupons.

Keep in mind, said Brady, that most retailers will honor sale prices if items were purchased the week before they went on sale.

Another tactic is to go through junk mail to check if retailers have sent bonus coupons and gift cards, she said. Shoppers should be savvy and take a retailer's circular to a different store and ask for competitive pricing, she said.

"It's evident people still want a deal, which is why more people plan to shop on Black Friday," said Belinda Dabrowski, managing director of AAA Partnership Development, The Auto Club Group.

"A little bit of research can go a long way in terms of saving on holiday shopping."