Today is Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, when Americans traditionally swarm malls on the busiest shopping day of the holiday season.

But this year may be quite different, according to Betsy B. Holloway, PhD, an assistant professor of marketing at Samford University School of Business in Birmingham, Alabama.

“I predict that we will see record-breaking online retailing sales this holiday season,” she says. “The nation’s retailers have learned some tough lessons in recent years and are well prepared for surging online sales in the fourth quarter of 2006. Look for especially surprising online sales growth in the increasingly relevant segments of ‘net kids’ and those 65 and older.”

Be prepared, however, for heavy web traffic, warns Craig Donato, CEO of Oodle.com, a classified-advertising search engine.

“With more and more shoppers turning to online venues for better prices and more variety, the new image of Black Friday might not be crazy crowds and long lines in the retail store, but site crashes and server glitches as a result of the new crowds forming on the world wide web,” he says. “The advent of classified and auction buying is adding an even new wrinkle to the post-Thanksgiving holiday shopping phenomena, offering hard-to-find and/or creative gift options at a fraction of the cost for retail. This season’s holiday sales will most likely be in the green, but the demographics of where the shopping is done will change dramatically.”

I’ve joined the online shopping brigade in an effort to avoid mall mania. Here are some of the sites OrganicAuthority.com recommends:

  • Amazon.com (books, music, electronics—almost anything you can think of)
  • Chopra.com (books, videos, CDs, health and beauty products, spirituality-themed gifts from Dr. Deepak Chopra)
  • Cooking.com (everything for the kitchen)
  • Gaiam.com (lifestyle products, yoga wear and supplies, clothing, fitness, home goods)
  • Greenfeet.com (apparel, home goods, décor, jewelry, personal care, yard and garden)
  • Patagonia.com (apparel, outdoor clothing, travel gear)
  • Vivavi.com (furniture, lighting, accessories)

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