Other retailers also saw their share of scuffles. Outside a Kohl’s store in Romeoville, Ill., south of Chicago, police marked off a crime scene where shots were fired earlier Thursday evening.
The day after Thanksgiving, called Black Friday, is typically the biggest shopping day of the year. For a decade, it had been considered the official start of the holiday buying season. But in the past few years, retailers have pushed opening times into Thanksgiving night. They've also pushed up discounting that used to be reserved for Black Friday into early November, which may have stolen some of Black Friday's thunder this year.
Overall, the National Retail Federation expects retail sales to be up 4 percent to $602 billion during the last two months of the year. That's higher than last year's 3.5 percent growth, but below the 6 percent pace seen before the recession. Analysts expect sales to be generated at the expense of profits, as retailers will likely have to do more discounting to get people into stores. Indeed, better deals are often available after Black Friday.
The atmosphere was calm at the stores Judy Phillips and Bonnie Dow had hit Friday morning. Their annual Black Friday trek began Thanksgiving night at a mall in Wilton, a town north of Albany, N.Y. "No one's been fistfighting with anybody," Dow said.
Phillips said they got "great deals" on such items as blankets, sheets and comforters. But, echoing disappointment of shoppers throughout the nation who were hoping to get a great deal on a hot item, her efforts to buy the popular Furby toy had come up empty. "They're all sold out," she said.