It's that time of year when holiday decorations start showing up in shops and homes and wish lists are getting longer. With Black Friday and Cyber Monday rapidly approaching, the savviest shoppers are already using Black Friday apps on their smartphones to keep an eye on the deals.
Although last year’s Black Friday sales declined for the first time since 2009, consumers still spent $57.4 billion during the 2013 Black Friday weekend, according to Bloomberg. This year, experts predict that overall holiday spending will exceed last season’s dispiriting tally. And, as always, the plethora of ads shoved in your face during the weeks leading up to Black Friday makes it hard to find the best deals. We checked several Black Friday apps that have been updated and released for 2014, many of which accompany websites. Use these Black Friday apps to stay abreast of the latest deals and add items to a saved shopping list while you're out and about. When you return home, log on to the site for easier viewing.
Fat Wallet (iOS, Android).
FatWallet's new Black Friday Deal Finder 2014 app is the iPhone and iPad version of its Black Friday website. (The 2014 Android version hasn’t been updated yet). We didn’t find any user reviews for this year’s app, but bugs reportedly have been fixed and browsing made faster. The app lets users look through scanned Black Friday ads, quickly navigate to the desired product page, and continue on to the merchant's page for purchase. Scanning to find specific items makes it easy to check deals against a gift list. There is two-click purchasing with FatWallet checkout, and shopping through its Black Friday website while logged into a FatWallet account earns cash-back rewards on online purchases.
TGI Black Friday App (iOS, Android).
DealCatcher's TGI Black Friday app has been highly rated in previous years and continues to receive rave reviews from users on Google’s Playstore. The iPhone, iPad, and Android app tracks this year’s day of deals and users already applaud the 2014 version’s detailed, organized layout, which makes finding and saving Black Friday deals a snap. Users can browse by popular deals as well as the newest ads and sort through stores or product categories to fulfill a shopping list. Some items may be available before Black Friday and the app lets users compare prices across vendors as well as shop online. Favorite savings can be shared via email, Twitter, or Facebook accounts.
BlackFriday.fm (iOS, Android).
This app’s Black Friday 2013 Ads app was the go-to shopping app last year and remains top-rated again this year. Android and iPhone users can get in on the fun with the latest updates, including Black Friday push updates and shopping list syncing. The app updates users with all Black Friday news about leaked ads and retailers' plans through its optional email subscription. As with the other apps, users can look through the scanned Black Friday ads or product categories and add items to a shopping list. Best deals can be shared with friends and family.
ShopSmart (iOS, Android, Blackberry).
Shoppers like that they can use ShopSmart on their iPhone, iPad, Android, or Blackberry to instantly compare in-store prices with those available through Amazon. After scanning an item with the app's barcode reader, it finds the online price. Users can set alerts to signal when products reach the desired price point and determine whether the Black Friday in-store price is a real steal compared with online offerings. There is also a manual search bar for even more accurate shopping.
Amazon’s Black Friday App 2014 (Android).
Amazon has compiled a list of Black Friday deals by category and/or store, which most users say makes comparing deals a cinch. The app has fixed some bug issues, so now users can read full scans of the Black Friday specials and save items they wish to purchase to their device without the app crashing. Shoppers can share their best buys with others through the application and make shopping lists to keep Black Friday shopping on track. Ads are available in the app even a month before Black Friday -- all the better for an early start.
With so much information being "leaked" in the weeks before Black Friday (see Doorbusters.net for a prediction roundup), it's easy to get dragged down by information overload. It's also easy to be swept up in the storm of gale-force sales and overspend on items you don't really need. The Black Friday apps noted above are helpful resources for finding deals this November. But the best approach to holiday shopping calls for a list of specific items and/or gift recipients and using the search and wish list functions in the Black Friday apps to find exactly what you’re looking for. The gift to you? Saving money, and more importantly, avoiding overspending this year.