Early signs pointed to bigger crowds at the nation’s malls and stores as retailers like Macy’s and Target opened their doors at midnight. Toys R Us and a few stores other stores that opened on Thanksgiving Day also were filled with shoppers.
The Black Friday crowds were mostly peaceful, but tensions on what’s typically the biggest shopping day of the year, seemed to reach boiling point at some stores.
It started on Thanksgiving, when Los Angeles authorities say 20 people at a Walmart store suffered minor injuries when a woman used pepper spray to gain a “competitive” shopping advantage shortly after the store opened.
Those injured continued shopping anyway.
In Fayetteville, North Carolina, gunfire erupted at a mall. Police say they are looking for two suspects. Separately, police say two women have been injured and a man charged after a fight broke out at an upstate New York Walmart. And in central Florida a man is behind bars after a fight broke out at a jewellery counter in Walmart.
The incidents came as record numbers of shoppers were expected to head out to stores across the country over the weekend to take advantage of discounts of up to 70%. For three days starting on Black Friday, 152 million people are expected to shop, up about 10% from last year, according to the National Retail Federation.
About 600 shoppers were in line at a Target store in Brooklyn when it opened at midnight. By the time it opened, nearly 2,000 wrapped around a Best Buy store in St Petersburg, Florida. Mall of America, North America’s largest mall had 15,000 shoppers for its midnight opening.
More than 9,000 were outside the flagship Macy’s store in New York at its midnight opening, up from 7,000 a year ago.