Above: It’s been a crazy day once again as U.S. shoppers got up early for Black Friday sales, but some rock-bottom deals have kept Canadian consumers on this side of the border. Mike Drolet and Brian Mooar report.
TORONTO – The holiday shopping season is fully underway with thousands embracing Black Friday, traditionally known as the biggest shopping day of the year in the United States.
WATCH: Fight erupts in Walmart on Black Friday in U.S.
While the shopping season began earlier this year, with at least a dozen big chains from Macy’s to the Gap to Target opening Thursday on U.S. Thanksgiving, here in Canada retailers are working to keep consumers home, north of the border.
Lineups, lineups and more lineups
Both in Canada and the United States, thousands lined up in front of stores in the wee hours of the morning.
In many cities across the United States, some people camped out in front of stores days earlier in anticipation of the shopping event.
The start of the holiday shopping season has transformed into a multi-day event. For nearly a decade, Black Friday had been the official start to the busy buying binge sandwiched between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was named Black Friday because that was traditionally when retailers turned a profit, or moved out of the red and into the black.
Canadian retailers are also cashing in, with many stores opening their doors first thing this morning.
The Toronto Eaton Centre opened at 6 a.m.
VIDEO: Black Friday in Toronto
The popularity of Black Friday is growing in Canada as retailers continue to feel the squeeze on their bottom line from American competitors. Forty-seven per cent of Canadians surveyed in a Bank of Montreal poll planned on shopping this year – up from 41 per cent last year – with each shopper expecting to spend an average of $292.
Black Friday turns ugly
In Chicago, a police officer responding to a shoplifting report pursued a suspect who jumped into a car, and was dragged along as the two men struggled. Another officer fired at the car, wounding the driver.
Police said both people in the car and a suspect inside the store were arrested.
There were no reports of any injuries to shoppers hunting for deals ahead of Black Friday.
VIDEO: Officer dragged near Chicago-area store
In several cities in the United States, fights reportedly erupted in more than one Walmart discount department store. Police in a Walmart in New Jersey reportedly had to pepper spray a man after he became “belligerent” while arguing with another shopper over a TV.
In a video captured at a Walmart in North Carolina on Thursday, a crowd of people allegedly began to shove and push each other over flat-screen televisions.
According to Instagram user jcooper770, this video below was taken at a Walmart in Johnson City, Tenn.
On social media, the hashtag #Walmartfights began to trend on Twitter with people sharing posts and tweets about violence reportedly occurring in several stores across the United States.
Protest amid the sales
The holiday store openings came despite threatened protests from workers’ rights groups, which are opposed to employees working on the holiday instead of spending the day with family.
In the U.S., Walmart has been the biggest target for protests against holiday hours. Most of the company’s stores are open 24 hours, but the retailer started its sales events at 6 p.m. on Thursday, two hours earlier than last year.
The issue is part of a broader campaign against the company’s treatment of workers that’s being waged by a union-backed group called OUR Walmart, which includes former and current workers. The group is staging demonstrations and walkouts at hundreds of stores around the country on Black Friday.
With a file from The Canadian Press