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Black Friday 2011: The Smart Shopping Guide

As a self proclaimed shopaholic, I consider shopping to be a sport and often retail therapy. However Black Friday is unlike any ordinary shopping adventure. It’s pure chaos and if you’re not adequately prepared it can be rather frustrating. Consumers have been abuzz about where to shop since early November all over Facebook, Twitter, etc. This hot topic continues to generate interest on a yearly basis and Nielsen/McKinsey’s has seen a 25% increase in social media activity surrounding Black Friday.

This year, retailers are trying something different and have been offering deals all week (mostly online). Major department stores like Wal-Mart and Target are starting a new tradition called “Black Thursday” and will be opening doors late Thursday evening which have several workers disgruntled since Thanksgiving and Christmas days are usually the only days they get off. Last year, an estimated 81 million people shopped Black Friday sales. That number has been steadily climbing since 2010 and expected to climb even higher with deals being offered earlier and advancements in technology.

Speaking of technology, if you’re a smart phone user why not plan ahead this year and avoid the crowds with the convenience of a few apps? I perused the app store and found a few gems:

Bradsdeals

For the frugal Black Friday shopper, Bradsdeals is the ideal app. The app highlights several pre-released shopping advertisements from your favorite stores. You can make a list of everything you want, get store opening times, and plan your day. This is a must have app if you don’t have a lot of time or don’t like having to hunt for sales at stores.

Toys R Us

Chaos and kids don’t mix. If you can’t leave your kids at home or with a babysitter, consider downloading the Toys R Us app and shop for their Christmas presents early. This app is fun and interactive and simple for you and your kids to use. It’s designed like a game. You can create a wish list to save for later or buy directly from the app which links to the store’s website.

Rue La La

Rue La La is the must-have app for any fashion savvy woman. Stay cozy in bed and shop deals from designer labels. This app highlights virtual boutiques so it’s a must have all year round.

Target

I love Target and I don’t think I’m alone in that statement but even I wouldn’t step foot in the store during Black Friday. Luckily there’s an app for my worries. Use the Target app to locate the nearest store and check to see if the deal you want is still available (or at another store) before you make the trek over to the store. You can also use the app to make wish lists, scan for price check, check out product reviews, and peruse the weekly ads.

If you’re braving the mall this year, Macy’s, Wal-Mart, and JC Penney are among a long list of stores that have setup aggressive mobile campaigns. Download a QR code scanner onto your smart phone to take advantage of special coupons that you can unlock while you’re shopping and be sure to follow the Facebook/Twitter pages of your favorite stores to see what they’re up to.

Are you planning to take part in Black Friday this year? Where are you going and do you a have plan? Let us know! The Viralheat team will be monitoring Black Friday traffic all week. Be sure to check out our analysis and graphs next week!

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