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Safe shopping for Black Friday 2011

Molly Cerreta Smith loves writing about all things mommy, parenting, food, health and travel. When she's not staring into the face of her Mac, she loves to hike, read, do messy crafts with her kids and compete in BBQ competitions with he...

Is it safe to brave the stores on Black Friday?

Black Friday has long been a shopping tradition and the biggest shopping day of the year, rife with deals so low shoppers would hop out of bed at all hours of the morning just to get a good price on a coveted item. But has Black Friday gone too far?

Black Friday 2011 safe shopping

Deadly shopping

People have been injured and even killed by shopping mobs, and now some stores are opening late Thanksgiving night to give shoppers a bigger head start on Black Friday savings. We're all about scoring a great deal, but it's not worth your life!

A temporary Walmart employee in Long Island died of asphyxiation in 2008 after he was trampled by more than 2,000 people who rushed the door when the store opened. And in 2005, a pregnant woman in Grand Rapids, Michigan, had to be taken to the hospital after being knocked to the ground by other shoppers.

Deals to be had

Black Friday 2011 promises some amazing deals, and many have already been released or leaked. Lately, it seems that Black Friday starts long before the day after Thanksgiving. Budget-conscious parents have technology -- such as websites and cell phone applications -- to thank for providing coupon codes and alerts of where and when they can find major savings, as well as free shipping, rebates, coupons and cash back offers.

Learn about a Black Friday iPhone app >>

This year, many stores are foregoing the traditional early opening on Black Friday (some as early as 3 a.m.) for a late opening on Thanksgiving night. Toys "R" Us is set to open for Black Friday steals at 9 p.m. and Walmart is scheduled to open at 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving.

Are earlier Black Friday hours are cutting into valuable family time? >>

Online shopping trumps in-store

Luckily, Black Friday deals are not just for the in-store shoppers. Many Americans are now turning to the internet to do most of their shopping, particularly for the holidays, for Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.

In a survey of 2,429 drafted by e-tailer Ebates and conducted in October by Harris Interactive, 71 percent of those surveyed said they are likely to go online to shop during Black Friday instead of actually braving the stores. The study also concluded that 83 percent of Americans say they will shop online for holiday gifts this season, with 44 percent saying they would spend half or more of their holiday gift budget shopping online.

Read up on 5 ways to save major money on Cyber Monday >>

Companies are more than willing to oblige their shop-from-home clientele. Major retailers offer specific online sales for Black Friday and Cyber Monday shoppers, and many throw in free shipping as well. Entire sites (like TheBlackFriday.com) and cell phone apps (like FatWallet's Deal Finder iPhone app) are dedicated to leaking deals, sorting sales and alerting users when their most-desired items go on sale.

Tell us

Will you head to the stores on Thanksgiving night for the best Black Friday deals or forego the stores for online steals?

Check out more Black Friday and holiday shopping tips

Best place to shop for toys on Black Friday                                                 ?Holiday savings: Save money shopping online How to save money on Black Friday

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