Today is Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year in the U.S. Not only is Black Friday a day for bargains and specials, it’s also an important economic indicator. Total sales on this one shopping day can indicate how well U.S. retailers will fare during the holiday shopping season. Good Black Friday sales mean retailers may end up the year in the black. Weak sales bring deeper discounts and a dim outlook for retail bottomlines, making “Black Friday” an apt moniker for the day.

Most Black Friday’s in history were financial panics, such as the stock market crash of 1922.  The shopping version of Black Friday shares this dark side, as they are occasionally marked with inter-shopper violence and out-of-control crowds. A security guard was trampled to death when he opened the doors to the Long Island Wal-Mart opened at 5 a.m. on Black Friday in 2008.

Don’t face the Black Friday hordes alone. Take along a secret weapon:  a location-enabled shopping app. Capture deals, earn merchandise credits, and find cool new stuff with one of the dozen or so smartphone shopping apps that have launched this year. Even the mobile social networks have gotten into the game, with merchant deals available through Facebook Places, Foursquare, and loopt.

Why paw through the piles of bargain-priced holiday T-shirts or wrestle your way to the electronics counter, just to have your item snatched from before your very eyes by a faster, more wily shopper? A location-enabled shopping app can clue you into bargains that aren’t available or obvious to other shoppers, lure you into stores that you might have otherwise passed by, and let you pile up credits toward future purchases. Even if you’re only interested in trying out one or more of these shopping apps just to see how they work, Black Friday would be a great time to give one a try.

Which LBS shopping app is right for you? I’ve done the legwork and recommend LBS shopping apps based on your holiday shopping style in my December Unplugged column, “With a Little Help from My Friends: Location-Based Shopping.” Are you a planner? Know-it-all? Socialite? Slacker? However you cross the names off of your gift list, there’s a location-based shopping app for you.

Arm yourself for Black Friday. Read this!

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