Better Business Bureau has shopping tips for Black Friday

CONYERS — Although Black Friday is the traditional start to the holiday shopping season, many consumers will start their shopping today as more stores stay open and offer deals on Thanksgiving Day.

According to Better Business Bureau manager of communications Dottie Callina, an increased consumer demand is one reason for the sales starting a day early.

“If there wasn’t such a high demand for sales, Thanksgiving would be able to be celebrated normally,” said Callina.

The National Retail Federation predicts about 140 million shoppers will hit stores this weekend to kick off their holiday shopping. Whether shopping on the newly coined “Thankful Thursday” or Black Friday, the BBB has a few tips for consumers this holiday weekend.

• Create a budget. Overspending is easy to do during the holidays, so setting a budget on how much to spend on gifts for family and friends can be helpful. Emotional spending and buyer’s remorse can be avoided by planning what to buy before heading to the store.

• Research the retailers. Search for coupons online, sign up for email alerts from a certain store, or like a store’s Facebook page for information on deals. Many retailers have developed a marketing strategy that sets up reward systems for customers who acknowledge their online presence.

• Compare sales. While most stores claim to have the best holiday deals, it is best to compare one store’s sale price to another’s to be sure that the lowest price is paid for a certain item. Other services such as warranties and return policies should also be considered when comparing deals.

• Gather information. It is important to inquire about at which stores to shop, but it is also beneficial to be well-informed about the specific products that are purchased. Collecting information about certain merchandise gives more details about the product and also gives shoppers a better idea of what they want to buy.

• Swipe. Despite the stigma against purchasing with credit cards, the BBB advises consumers to buy holiday gifts on credit. This is because credit card charges can be more easily disputed if the product is defective or misrepresented, as opposed to buying with cash or debit. Carry only one credit card at a time, and be sure to not exceed your credit limit.

• Save. Obtain and save receipts in case returns are required or the purchased item is no longer wanted. Also, ask for gift receipts that include the item’s description but do not disclose the price of the item to gift receivers.