Shop for deals: Black Friday and Cyber Monday
Everyone loves a good deal, right? But, a GREAT deal is even better. That’s why some of us wake up at 4 a.m. to line up at our favorite department stores the day after Thanksgiving. On Black Friday, the early bird gets the worm, or in this case, the sale.
While stationed overseas, you may feel you are missing out on that java-toting adrenaline rush of early morning shopping. Some German stores have Black Friday sales, but you’re unlikely to find any open at 5 a.m. The good news is that you don’t have to miss out on great deals. You can sit at home with a warm cup of coffee, basking in the glow of your computer screen.
The high point of being overseas and shopping online is that you may have a leg up on shopping competition because of the time difference. Serious shoppers back home will stay up until midnight and hop online too, but you will still get some great deals before fellow consumers. When purchasing online, there are a few things to consider:
1. Do your research
Who has time to do that? Well, there are a few resources that have done most of the legwork for you. Some sites let you know what’s predicted to go on sale, down to the hour, such as DealNews.com. German sites www.black-friday.de/deals and www.blackfridaysale.de list sales at European online retailers participating in Black Friday and Cyber Monday. And www.bfads.net/Stores lists Black Friday sales for Amazon.com, Target and many other American retailers. For extra savings on Cyber Monday, visit www.cybermonday.com.
Some of these websites have apps that tell you the second a watched item goes on sale. While sitting at your laptop with your cellphone or tablet beside you, you will be notified when the price drops on your favorite item. Then, go to the store’s website and make your purchase. Voila! You won’t miss a thing.
2. Does the store ship to APO boxes?
You can check a store’s shipping guidelines or put something in your online cart and start the checkout process to view shipping options. When you click on the state drop-down box in the shipping options, some stores list “Armed Forces Europe” or “AE.” If you see either option, continue shopping to your heart’s content. Yeah!
If you know that other people have received items from a certain store but neither AE nor Armed Forces Europe is an option, you can try NY as the state. I recently did this when purchasing a baby shower gift. I got an email from customer service that the zip code listed was not in New York, but they could still accommodate and process my purchase. However, it took two months to receive the merchandise, so I’m a little iffy on this one.
If you shop on Amazon, you may not learn the shipping fate of items until the end. Before I’ve found at checkout that five of eight items could not be delivered to my APO box. If you can find the same items on Amazon.de, then you will be able to have them shipped to your German address. You’ll pay in euros instead of dollars, but I’ve gotten some items the next day from Amazon.de.
3. What about timeliness of shipping?
Every store and website is different. Just like stateside, some items may be backordered due to high demand. Items may take from two weeks to two months to arrive to your APO box, and you might miss your deadline for gift giving. Sometimes, Amazon Prime members get free expedited shipping with their membership, just in time for the holidays — fingers crossed.
No matter where you order, pay for expedited or priority shipping if available; parcel post (space available) items are unlikely to arrive on time during the holiday rush. Also order and ship gifts directly to stateside recipients, even if it means they arrive without gift wrap.
I feel like it’s always a coin toss when it comes to shipping. If an item does not arrive in time, print out a photo of it and put it in an envelope to be opened with other gifts. Or save it for a birthday present.
I hope these tips help while you’re shopping overseas. Happy spending!