Black Friday nationwide coverage: Shoppers find better online

Associated Press

Published: Friday, Nov. 29 2013 12:00 a.m. MST

People wait outside the American Eagle store for it to open at the Citadel Outlets on Thursday, Nov. 28, 2013, in Los Angeles. Instead of waiting for Black Friday, which is typically the year's biggest shopping day, more than a dozen major retailers are opening on Thanksgiving Day this year.

Jae C. Hong, Associated Press

The holiday shopping season kicked off early, as several retailers began offering deals on Thanksgiving Day. Many people complained about the early start and the mad rush for deals — yet they went out 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, 5 p.m.: Black Friday may be winding down, but deals aren't.

Despite signs that the economy is improving, big store chains such as Wal-Mart and Kohl's don't expect Americans to have much holiday shopping cheer unless they see bold, red signs that offer huge discounts. As a result, shoppers are seeing big sales events earlier and more often than in previous holiday seasons.

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— Anne D'Innocenzio, AP Retail Writer, New York

— Friday, 4:55 p.m.: Don't bother telling Santa what you want.

Victor Gonzalez, 36, and his wife braved a rare Southern California rain storm at Citadel Outlets. He 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. They're also protesting what they believe is Wal-Mart's retaliation against employees who speak out against their jobs. Union representatives said there have been peaceful arrests in nine cities, including Chicago, Washington, Los Angeles, Dallas, Seattle and Sacramento, Calif.

But Wal-Mart said that only six workers have participated in demonstrations on Black Friday. 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 was 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 to potentially put 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, 3:10 p.m.: Wal-Mart says 5 million shoppers took advantage of a one-hour guarantee program on Thanksgiving night. That's up from a preliminary count of 1 million. The strategy allows shoppers who are inside a Wal-Mart store within one hour of a doorbuster sales event to buy that product and either take it home that day or by Christmas.

Among the items: a $98 32-inch flat-panel LED TV.

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