yet they went shopping anyway. Deals aren't over yet, as big retailers believe they must continue offering them to lure shoppers.
Here's how the start of the holiday shopping season played out. All times are EST, unless otherwise specified.
— Friday, 4:55 p.m.: Don't bother telling Santa what you want.
In Los Angeles, Victor Gonzalez, 36, said his kids all want the new Microsoft game console, the Xbox One, "but they're getting clothes."
"They're not going to be too happy about that!" he admitted, but said the kids already have an older-model Xbox "that works fine."
Meanwhile, Lois Scheer said her 11-year-old granddaughter wants "a computer" for Christmas, but instead she bought her a pink sweatsuit.
— Christopher Weber, Associated Press, Los Angeles
— Friday, 4:40 p.m.: Labor-backed groups target Wal-Mart on Black Friday
Labor-backed groups used Black Friday to launch demonstrations over wages and working conditions at Wal-Mart. Union representatives said there have been peaceful arrests in nine cities.
But Wal-Mart said that only six workers have participated in demonstrations. The retailer has 1.4 million workers.
— Anne D'Innocenzio, AP Retail Writer, New York
— Friday, 4:05 p.m.: Formerly homeless man compares shopping frenzy to drug abuse
As Seattle shoppers cruised the sidewalks, Michael Wiggins stood in the crowd trying to sell a $2 newspaper that supports the causes of homeless and low-income residents. The 50-year-old himself has been off-and-on homeless for 32 years but is now living in a condo with the help of rental assistance.
Looking around the crowds, Wiggins said he was concerned about the focus on spending and said it was sad to see people spending and potentially putting themselves in debt.
"How are you getting ahead?" Wiggins said. "Why are you killing yourself for a pair of underwear?"
Wiggins said the shoppers were "fake" and not being honest with themselves. He compared their focus on acquiring items to how he used to abuse alcohol and drugs
— Michael R. Baker, Associated Press, Seattle
— Friday, 3 p.m.: Crowded holiday shopping lot in Va. turns violent.
A dispute in a Virginia parking lot crowded with holiday shoppers turned violent Thanksgiving night, with one throwing a punch and another responding by cutting him with a knife and brandishing a rifle, the sheriff's office said Friday.
Both men were charged Thursday after the altercation in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart in Tazewell County that sent panicked shoppers scattering.
Christopher Jackson, 35, was waiting for another shopper to leave a parking space when Ronnie Sharp, 61, began sounding his horn behind Jackson's vehicle, the Tazewell County Sheriff's Office said.
Sheriff Brian Hieatt said Jackson got out of his vehicle and confronted Sharp, punching him, and Sharp responded by severely cutting Jackson on the arm with a knife and pulling out a rifle. The rifle was not loaded.
— Friday, 2:50 p.m.: A deal is a deal, even if it comes with hassles.
Barbara Salort, a school aide from Springfield. N.J., went to Wal-Mart on Thursday night in hopes of scoring Beats headphones. The store ran out just as she got to the front of the line — but Wal-Mart offered a voucher.
"After you wait in a line, you wait in another line, and after you're close they give you a coupon and say 'Oh it's guaranteed!'"
She said she paid for them. She said the deal was worth it — at $114 instead of $175.
— Candice Choi, AP Retail Writer, Millburn, N.J.
— Friday, 1:45 p.m.: Some avoid Black Friday and donate or get coats instead in Rhode Island
While shoppers were spending Black Friday at the mall, some people in Rhode Island were taking a break from commerce to give away a coat or get one for free.
It's the state's twist on Buy Nothing Day, a two-decade-old statement against consumerism that started in Vancouver and is now marked on the day after Thanksgiving in some places in the U.S.
Maureen Keane is unemployed and picked up four coats for friends as Christmas gifts. She says she can't afford gifts this year.
— Michelle R. Smith, Associated Press, Providence, R.I.
— Friday, 1:05 p.m.: Most deals not worth the hassle for Georgia couple
Tony Abruzzio and his wife, Sherry, aborted an attempt to buy gifts at a Bass Pro Shop in Savannah, Ga., when they saw what looked like at least 100 people waiting for cashiers. "I just put our stuff back," Abruzzio said. "We didn't want to stand in line all day."
— Russ Bynum, Associated Press, Savannah, Ga.
— Friday, 12:45 p.m.: Black Friday — and its problems — aren't limited to the United States.
One woman suffered an arm injury in Belfast, Northern Ireland, as shoppers rushed to get deals for Black Friday, a day of sales modeled on the American kick-off to the holiday shopping season.
British supermarket chain Asda — owned by U.S. retail giant Wal-Mart — has been advertising its Black Friday deals throughout the U.K.
Asda said in a statement that the safety of its customers is of "vital importance" and that it has extra security in stores.
— Friday, 12:20 p.m.: In an interview, Macy's CEO says employees chose Thanksgiving shifts.
Like many other retailers, Macy's began offering deals on Thursday. Some workers' rights groups had threatened protests at various retailers.
Macy's CEO Terry Lundgren said about 90 percent of the spots filled by regular employees. He said the company gave first choice to its 176,000 full-time workers. Many were willing, he said, partly because of overtime pay.
— Mae Anderson, AP Retail Writer, New York
— Friday, 11:35 a.m.: A dummy holds place in line for Anchorage shopper.
Annie Luck's Black Friday started Wednesday and included a mannequin.
The 53-year-old Anchorage woman set up a lawn chair at 4 p.m. Wednesday, local time, to stake out first place in line for the opening of Best Buy 26 hours later. She spent part of Wednesday night sleeping in her car. A dummy in a face mask and construction hat held her place.
The Anchorage Daily News reports Luck wore five pairs of pants and five shirts to stay warm in 16-degree temperatures.
Luck figured she could save $1,100 by getting to the store early for two laptop computers and three iPods.
Read more at: http://bit.ly/IoI0KY
— Friday, 10:25 a.m.: Florida man arrested after baby left alone in shopping center parking lot
A father faces felony child neglect charges after a Florida Highway Patrol trooper spotted a baby left alone in a car outside a Best Buy store.
The incident happened about 5:30 p.m. Thursday near Orlando.
Authorities say trooper Edy Rivera saw the infant in a car seat inside a locked car. He went into the store, looking for the vehicle's owner. When no one came forward, he broke the vehicle's window and got the baby boy out.
A short time later, officials say 34-year-old Haider Darwash returned to the vehicle. He told troopers he thought his wife had the baby. She was located standing in line at another business in the shopping center.
The child was not harmed.
— Friday, 8:35 a.m.: No fistfights, but store out of Furby
The atmosphere was calm at the stores Judy Phillips and Bonnie Dow visited during their annual Black Friday trek that began Thanksgiving night. They eventually made it to Target in nearby Clifton Park, N.Y. "No one's been fist fighting with anybody," Dow said.
Phillips said they got "great deals" on such items as blankets, but the store was sold out of the popular Furby toy.
— Chris Carola, Associated Press, Clifton Park, N.Y.
— Friday, 7:30 a.m.: Exhaustion for shopper near Atlanta
Curtis Akins, 51, drove about three hours from Tifton, Ga., to watch the annual Macy's tree-lighting ceremony at Lenox Square mall in Atlanta on Thanksgiving. The store opened for shoppers at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving, and the rest of the mall opened at midnight.
By 5 a.m. Friday, he was sitting on a bench — looking slightly exhausted — inside another mall as his wife shopped. Akins said he wasn't keen on Black Friday starting earlier.
"It's taking away from the traditional Thanksgiving," he said.
— Jeff Martin, Associated Press, Alpharetta, Ga.
— Thursday, 6 p.m.: An hour after its 6 p.m. opening, a Best Buy in New York City was bustling. Buying a TV on was on Rodney Bernard's mind. "My friend is chewing me out right now for not being there," said Bernard, 39, a writer. Instead of being at his friend's Thanksgiving celebration, he was at Best Buy. "But I really needed a TV."
— Mae Anderson, AP Retail Writer, New York