THE message from retail specialists ahead of this year's Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales is: shoppers, do your research.
Planning and a bit of homework in the lead up to the sales will be key to a happy shopping experience, with global supply issues set to cause changes in the availability of items in periods of high demand.
The 2021 sales may be particularly frenzied as the eastern states emerge from strict lockdown.
Anthony Di Francesco, client service director from retail specialist CROSSMARK Australia, said many would be looking forward to an in-store shopping experience and chasing limited stock at attractive prices.
"When customers purchase online, they tend to stick to products they need and log out, while those shopping in-store are more immersed by retail experiences that inspire and influence their purchasing decision, in addition to price," Di Francesco said.
"Stock in some categories will be limited; however, retailers will roll out the red carpet to offer deals to customers and help clear stock.
"This is an ideal opportunity for people to purchase items for immediate consumption or plan ahead for upcoming events, such as Christmas."
To help get set for the season, Mr Di Francesco put together a five-point buyers guide for consumers planning to make the most of the Black Friday sales.
1. Prepare a wish list
Consider all the buying categories and note down products of interest to help prepare before undertaking any online research.
With supply chain issues currently affecting many Australian retailers, it is wise to expand your options if your chosen product is out of stock or unavailable. Checking reviews and online product comparison sites can help with purchasing decisions.
2. Buy it now - not later
With many products experiencing very low stock levels, buy now, not later, if you see a good price on a desired product and it's in stock. Delaying a purchase in the weeks leading up to the Black Friday and Christmas sales period will put your chances of securing the item at risk, leaving you disappointed and potentially out of pocket if the item's price rises when it is restocked.
3. Know the price
Most retailers will communicate their Black Friday offerings in advance through catalogues distributed online, in the mail or through loyalty programs.
While Black Friday traditionally started online in Australia, many retailers have expanded their offers with special in-store only deals to excite shoppers and encourage them to visit a store.
With COVID-19 still impacting the retail sector, many retailers will continue to operate their click collect services to help customers pick up their items efficiently.
4. Pick your store
Pinpointing the closest store where your desired product is available to purchase will help ensure your Black Friday shopping experience is positive.
Some stores may be flagship locations with a larger range and greater stock volumes, easing the stress of your purchasing experience.
It's also important to consider if stand-alone stores on high streets or a larger shopping centre environment will be the best option for you to conduct all your Black Friday shopping.
When visiting a retailer, keep your eye out for areas in-store, such as promotional stands or endcaps positioned at the end of aisles that will be loaded with deals and as you enter the shop.
5. Accept help
Increased staffing levels are likely to help with demand and inquiries and ensure customers are adhering to public health directions and COVID-19 safety protocols.
Accepting assistance from floor staff can make your shopping experience more enjoyable while arming you with product knowledge and comparisons to help you make the right purchase.
This can be particularly helpful if you need to find another product, should your product of choice be out of stock.
Many retailers now offer price matching and extra warranty across certain categories, so be sure to ask retail staff if the price on offer is the best they can do.