People of a certain age might remember the often hectic Black Friday of old, when shoppers would line up outside stores in the wee hours of the morning hoping to land the best deals on gifts for their loved ones. While many shoppers still make such early morning pilgrimages to their favorite stores, the internet has helped to thin the deal-crazed herds on Black Friday. Though stampeding crowds might not be as common as they once were on Black Friday, shoppers may still face some stiff competition as they try to land great deals before the shelves empty. The following are a handful of tips to help shoppers make the most of the unofficial kickoff to the holiday shopping season. • Don’t go shopping emptyhanded. Shopping on Black Friday without a list can lead to excess spending on items you or your loved ones may not even need or want. Creating a shopping list in advance gives shoppers time to research the best deals and where to find them. That organized approach can increase the likelihood that they land the best deals on a day that the National Retail Federation reported brought in $6.2 billion in online sales alone in 2018. That’s stiff competition for deals that typically have limited supplies, which only highlights the importance of shopping with a list in hand. • Shop local. Shoppers who want to venture out on Black Friday but still avoid crowds should skip shopping malls and big box stores in favor of local retailers. Shopping local is a great way to keep money in your community, and local shops tend to have more unique offerings than chain stores. One-of-a-kind gifts can be a great way to show loved ones how much you appreciate them. And local shopping districts likely won’t draw the massive crowds or produce the long checkout lines that consumers are likely to encounter at malls. • Comparison shop. Comparison shopping can make Black Friday even more deal-friendly. If you’re stuck on a long checkout line, use the time spent waiting for the next cashier to look for the same item online. You might find it’s less expensive somewhere else, and you can then present that price to the cashier at checkout. Many retailers are willing to match lower prices from other retailers, but you won’t know unless you ask. • Start early. The proverbial saying “the early bird catches the worm” is especially true on Black Friday. If you want to find the best deals, you should probably avoid sleeping in on the day after Thanksgiving. Black Friday has changed, but many of the strategies that worked in the pre-internet era can still help shoppers land the best deals today.