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Tips to beat the Black Friday frenzy

By Tara McAlister
Tara McAlister
Tara McAlister is MomsCharlotte.com's Deal Diva, giving you loads of easy tips to save money.
Holiday Shopping
Mark Lennihan - AP

With stores opening before the Thanksgiving leftovers are even cool, here are some tips to make the most of the Black Friday shopping frenzy.

Preparation is key: Visit websites such as bfads.net and blackfriday.com and search ads to create a shopping list. You can also compare items at various stores. If you own a smartphone, look for Black Friday-friendly apps from DealNews, Brad’s Deals and BFads. To compare Black Friday pricing to everyday pricing, use ShopSavvy, ShopKick or RedLaser. They search prices from retailers all over the country.

Focus: Black Friday is the best time to find deals on televisions, gaming systems, laptops and kitchen housewares. While many stores advertise great prices on clothing, decorations and technology accessories, the deals on those items will get better later, so wait.

Research: Buying technology can be a headache. Use cnet.com to understand the jargon before you make a big purchase.

Have a Plan A and a Plan B: This is almost inevitable on Black Friday: The item you researched and waited in line for hours has been snatched up. Have a Plan B, and do the research on alternative products that could replace the one that got away.

Mind your manners: Unlike Black Friday shoppers, most sales clerks did not choose to be there. Be patient in line, and remember to treat staff kindly even if your item is temporarily out of stock.

Go with a friend: Not only is it more fun but you can divide and conquer your shopping lists. One of you can get in line to pay while the other friend continues shopping.

Dress the part: This is sport, not fashion. Dress to be nimble.

Join the Deal Diva and Observer retail reporter Ely Portillo on CharlotteObserver.com for a live online chat from noon to 1 p.m. Wednesday about where to find the best Black Friday deals.
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