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Bargain hunters seek out Black Friday savings with holiday phone apps

As Black Friday continues to cast its shadow further over Thanksgiving Day — nicknamed “Gray Thursday” — more people are looking for ways to have an edge over fellow shoppers.

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After eating turkey this Thursday, then hitting the stores later in the day and again Friday, mobile phone apps that can be helpful for the upcoming holidays include coupons, deal-finders and even help for people who need to make an emergency restroom visit.

“Because this will be the shortest holiday shopping season since 2002, experts are predicting record online and in-store sales this Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday and Cyber Monday,” a news release from Verizon Wireless states.

The company also said a survey indicates 68 percent of smartphone owners will use their devices for holiday shopping. Chad Fajkus, store manager at the Verizon Wireless store in the Sioux Falls Empire Mall, said seeing that statistic boggled his mind.

“Isn’t that wild? That is so many people,” he said. “The big thing that I see going on, is people using more and more coupons from their smartphone.”

Fajkus mentioned several free apps available for Apple and Android users, including SitOrSquat — Powered by Charmin, a free app for Apple and Android users to help shoppers in need find the nearest public restroom.

“It gets even funnier as you kind of dive into it, because they rate all the bathrooms,” Fajkus said.

A bathroom will be rated “red” if it’s merely squat-worthy, Fajkus said, or green if it’s someplace safe to sit. It even provides pictures, he said.

“I can see it being super useful,” he said, particularly for shoppers scouting out downtown deals during the busy weekend.

In a similar vein, Fajkus said Find My Car (for Apple and Android) uses GPS to remember a shopper’s parking spot. With the push of a button, it guides people back to their cars.

Other apps he recommended include:

• Black Friday Deal Finder (Android-only) — Called “Black Friday on steroids,” this app claims to be a one-stop resource to search, compare, shop, save and share all the ads and deals for Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Fajkus said for Apple users, he would recommend TGIBlackFriday, another free app (also available on Android) that provides a comprehensive list of deals.

• Shop Savvy — Using their smartphone cameras, shoppers can use this app to scan in an item, and the app will find where it is available for the lowest price. Fajkus, who said he loves a bargain, said he uses this app frequently.

• Christmas Gift List (for Android) — This free app helps shoppers organize shopping lists, budget and track holiday spending. For Apple users, Fajkus recommended Santa’s Bag – Christmas Gift List.

Mobilewalla, a search and discovery engine that rates apps, also released a list of its top-ranked Black Friday apps for Apple and Android users.

Apple users favored apps like Coupons and Shopping — GeoQpons (free, also available on Android), Quick Scan — Barcode Scanner & Best Shopping Companion (free), Black Friday (free), and Best Shopping List ($0.99). Android users also bought into the coupon craze, as users downloaded apps like RetailMeNot Coupons (free, also available on Apple), Black Friday Coupons Shopular (free, also available on Apple), Arts & Crafts Coupons (free) and Black Friday App by Slickdeals (free, also available on Apple).