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Black Friday liveblog: Online deals or brick-and-mortar sales?

Sales tax may be hurting Amazon's bottom line, but overseas, online sales have been booming on similar shopping holidays.

By Monitor Staff / November 23, 2012

Santa Claus poses for a photograph at Macy's Santa Land at the 34 Street Herald Square store, on Thursday, in New York.

John Minchillo / AP Images for Macy’s

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Update 2:30 p.m.

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After hours and sometimes days of waiting, Los Angeles shoppers inaugurate Black Friday at several stores.

Amazon’s Black Friday deals will be hard to beat this year, as usual. But will new rules requiring the online merchant to collect sales tax in certain states affect its ability to price match?  Read the Monitor's analysis.

RELATED: Are you a smart shopper? Take our quiz.

Update 2:15 p.m.

The United States isn't the only country that goes crazy for Black Friday - but China has their own shopping extravaganza that comes a little earlier in November.  They call it 'Singles Day', and while it is ostensibly for giving gifts the gift-buying goes all out.

Update 12:08 p.m.

Many Black Friday news reports offer tips on finding the best bargains, and others extol holiday shoppers as engines of economic growth. But there also exists a lesser-known third genre of Black Friday journalism, which mostly consists of pointing a finger at the frenzied masses streaming through shopping aisles and shouting, "Suckers!"

They have a point, sort of. A press release from Decide.com, a website that tracks price changes on electronics and appliances and predicts bargains (with 77 percent accuracy, the company claims) advices shoppers to sleep in on Black Friday.

"Nine of the 11 major consumer product categories averaged a lower price leading up to Black Friday, the week after Black Friday or the week before the Christmas holiday," says the press release. "Overall, shoppers save a substantial amount of money on popular products by skipping Black Friday and Cyber Monday."

Still, it depends on what you're buying. Decide.com notes that Black Friday is a good day to pick up an Xbox 360, a PS3, or an original Wii, for instance. 

More importantly, for Black Friday isn't just about the bargains. For many shoppers, it's just fun to be part of a huge crowd. Those who hit the malls at midnight are driven in part by the same impulse that drives a million people gather in Times Square each New Year's Eve. We humans are pack animals.

Well, at least half of us are. The National Retail Federation predicts that up to 147 million Americans will shop over Thanksgiving weekend. And the half of our population that stays home this weekend will no doubt gape at these frenzied masses in incomprehension. Which is fair enough: We don't have to live alike to love alike.  

-- Eoin O'Carroll

Updated 10:37 a.m.

Shoppers who hit the stores on Black Friday are promised great bargains, and, if news reports are any indication, they are also offered something more abstract: the assurance that, by snapping up TVs, video games, and laptops, they are helping the US economy. 

In a story that ran on Sunday titled "Will Black Friday save the economy?" CBS MoneyWatch spelled out what's at stake:

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