Stacey Gillies is so good at shopping she's made a career out of it.
In exchange for $90 an hour, the personal stylist and shopper has been conducting bi-monthly, sometimes thrice-monthly shopping trips, for an exclusive clientele over the past four years.
Some of the shopping trips are accompanied by the clients, others are not. She says the trips with her clients do include seeking out the best deals, but "more often than not" her clients are not worried about bagging a discount.
Gillies is a regular in the likes of Juliette Hogan, Storm and Decjuba stores, and is a frequent shopper in Auckland's affluent Newmarket.
"Most of my clients don't want cheap and cheerful. They are looking for more mid-range New Zealand clothing which can be expensive in comparison to other countries," Gillies told the Herald.
She says the key to bagging a bargain when out shopping is to do your research first - and to plan purchases. That way you know what you want and are able to compare the prices of items as you go into each store or browse sites online.
Having an idea of what you want to buy is also a good way to save yourself from buying unwanted items, she says. "Decide what you need ... before you go to the sale or online. Save yourself from buying unwanted pieces, also sale items normally can't be returned so it pays to know your size.
"If it was to do with a Black Friday sale then you would know that the sale is coming up. Know what it is that you want and then when it is sale time go into stores and see if there is something that matches [what you're after] rather than just on the day looking through the sale [items] for the sake of it."
Sales were happening all the time these days so it also paid to wait rather than to rush out and make a purchase on a whim, she says.
When gearing up for a shopping trip, Gillies says she frequents the websites of brands she is looking to purchase from for her clients - working professional women between the ages of 30 and 55.
"It's great to bag a bargain, especially if it is something you have had your eye on for a while. Find out which brands will be having Black Friday sales and then only shop in these stores you want to buy from," says Gillies.
"Everyone likes to feel they are getting something for a better price."
She says many people believed that personal shopping and styling was "only for the rich and famous", which is why she started her business Fashion Fairground to cater for the everyday women and working Mothers.
What the experts say
Price comparison website PriceSpy advises shoppers to check out competition, compare features of items that you are interested in and check regular retail prices for products to make sure you aren't falling victim to average discounts positioned as better deals than they really are.
Retailers often raise prices before a sale and then compare the sale price to the "elevated" standard price making the deal seem better than it is, says PriceSpy.
"The best chance of finding a good bargain comes from preparation. If shoppers know in advance what they are interested in and have a rough idea of the price, they're less likely to get carried away and buy the wrong thing during the sales event," Liisa Matinvesi-Bassett, New Zealand country manager for PriceSpy, says.
Buying products out of season was also a way to save money, says Matinvesi-Bassett.
"When it comes to making the most of Black Friday, preparation is key. Whether shopping in-store, or bargain hunting online, shoppers should research items they want to buy well in advance rather than splashing out on a whim."
Tops tips for Black Friday:
Be sure to check prices before the big shopping events. That way you know whether you're actually getting a good deal or if you're being coaxed by cheeky marketing. Those big "sale" banners stretched across websites might look appealing, but they don't always measure up to some scrutiny.
Compare, compare, compare
Don't rely on just one website. Tap into a few different resources to see if you're getting a good deal. One store's deal could be another store's standard price. So, scope the online scene and make sure you aren't being taken for a ride.
Don't go for the latest model of a phone or computer if you don't need it. Stores will often offer deeper discounts on older models as they push to get rid of older stock. If you're willing to have a phone that's not quite as flash as the latest one on the market, then you could get a decent deal.
Know what you want
A good way to avoid buying things you don't want is to pinpoint exactly what you do want and then stick to it. You should go into the sale the period with a specific objective and only buy those things. It's almost a case of wearing sale blinkers and avoiding all the flashy opportunities that might cross your path.