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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.

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If retailers started spending more time improving the online experience when they're flooded with shoppers, they might eventually be able to have a rationale for limiting Black Friday sales to Black Friday.

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"Kohl's did something interesting on Wednesday by having an improvised queue system where the site never went down (or really slowed down), but people were having to wait up to 45 minutes to access the site," Mr. Brim writes. "I think that's a much nicer compromise than releasing your sale to the wolves."

The switch may take a while. Online sales account for something over 10 percent of holiday sales, so bricks and mortar franchises still have a huge edge. Until they figure out how to accommodate the online rush, they'll feel continued pressure to open earlier and earlier in a bid to capture the maximum dollars.

Updated 5:18 a.m.

So what are the deals that people are snapping up this Black Friday?

Big-screen TVs and laptops are always big sales items on the big shopping day. But if there was one item that everyone seems to want to get their hands on, it's Apple's iPad 2.

They were popular at Walmart, which offered iPads with 16 gigabytes of memory for $399 plus a $75 Walmart gift card. In a twist, Walmart guaranteed availability by Christmas for shoppers who showed up within the first hour at its stores, although the guarantee didn't amount to that much, according to the News for Shoppers website.

An iPad at that price is certainly a good deal for Apple aficionados, but not a great one.

"Apple products are rarely discounted, so no one was expecting great deals on the iPad or iPad mini, but I thought one or two stores might try to make a splash by offering the Google Nexus 7 or similar tablet at an unbeatable price this Black Friday," writes Michael Brim, founder and CEO of the Black Friday deals watch site BFAds.net. "That didn't happen."

So outside of the popular iPad, tablet deals didn't wow.

At 2 a.m. Friday, BFAds was still showing deals on several HDTVs, but by 3:30 a.m, they were gone.

By 5 a.m, the website was showing a Seiki 40-inch HDTV for $200 after rebate as one of its hottest deals. Rival online-deal website FatWallet.com was showing a Toshiba 40-inch HDTV for $179 from Best Buy as one of its most popular Black Friday deals.

 So what other good deals are still out there?

  • Video games: BFAds.net lists among others Fable: The Journey (X360) for $14.99 and Max Payne 3 (X360) for $19.99, as well as Sony 3D Glasses - $19.99.
  • Laptops: BFAds.net lists a 15.6 inch Compaq Presario for $179; FatWallet.com lists a 15.6" Lenovo for $188 as a popular pick.
  • Other items: BFAds.net points to a Razor A Kick Scooter for $19.99 and a Body Rider Fan Bike for $79.99. FatWallet.com highlights a $10 off coupon for any Macy's purchase of $25 or more and a 28-piece Rubbermaid storage set for $6.92 from Walmart. Another website, BlackFriday.com, lists Marmot apparel and gear for 30 percent off at Amazon.

Updated 3:30 a.m.

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