Bleary-eyed shoppers lined up before dawn today to push their way into stores across the nation, kicking off the annual Black Friday retail ritual.
No serious incidents were reported, unilke two years ago when a Walmart worker was trampled to death in Long Island, N.Y. WKBW reported that when the doors opened at a North Buffalo, N.Y., Target at 4a.m. the crowd turned into a chaotic mob as they charged through the doors. Some shoppers fell down, causing a pile-up that was untangled a few minutes later. The fallen brushed themselves off and continued to shop.
Mall and superstore parking lots were reported jammed in many parts of the country. They were all waiting to get a shot at the marked-down doorbuster deals.
In New York, when Macy's flagship store at Herald Square opened at 4 a.m. 7,000 people were waiting to get in. Macy's CEO Terry Lundgren told ABC News that he's optimistic this holiday period. "The pace is strong, a lot of shopping bags traveling around the store, so I feel very good so far," he said.
As the economy improves and people feel more secure in their jobs, pent-up demand will be unleashed, he says.
Marshal Cohen, chief analyst for MGD Group, was out with the crowds at 3 a.m. He told "Good Morning America" today that there's a method to the madness of Black Friday shoppers.
"If you wait too long and think the deals are going to get bettter and better and better, they're really not," he said. Retailers are conservative in what they buy, so the longer your wait, the higher the chance of getting the picked-over merchandise.
In suburban malls, it seemed that the early crowd would settle for no less than a smashing bargain.
"I'm looking at the TV and it says save $70 and I'm like, come on, you've got to be kidding," Sanjay Patil told Reuters as he waited outside a Best Buy Co in Princeton, New Jersey, along with about 50 other bargain hunters before midnight, even though the electronics retailer said stores open at 5 a.m.
"If it's Black Friday, it has to be 100 or 120 bucks savings minimum."
Here are some of the best Black Friday bargains to check out:
Target: Westinghouse 40 inch LCD HD TV - regular price $499, sale price $298
Walmart: Emerson 32 inch LCD HD TV - regular price $328, sale price $198
Best Buy: Panasonic 50 inch plasma HD TV - regular price $999, sale price $699
There are some jaw-dropping deals for internet connected Blu-Ray hi-def DVD players. They can play discs and stream movies off the Internet from websites like Netflix and Vudu.
Walmart: Magnavox blu-ray DVD player - regular price $118, sale price $69
Office Depot: Lenovo laptop with 15 inch screen - regular price $479, sale price $279
Staples: HP laptop with 15 inch display and Celeron 900 processor - regular price $449.98, sale price $299.98
While you are at Staples, you can pick up an HP 20 inch widescreen LCD monitor for $99.98, down from $149.98.
Best Buy: Barnes & Noble Nook E-Reader - regular price $149.99, sale price $99.99
Best Buy: Logitech Universal Remote - regular price $99.99, sale price $49.99
Best Buy: Blackberry Torch 9800 - regular price $99.99, sale price $49.99
Walmart: Zhu Zhu pet - regular price $7, sale price $4
Walmart: Wii console bundle with Wii Sports report and Wii motionplus (comes with a $50 gift card) - regular $199.99, $149.99
Walmart: Lego Ultimate Building Set - regular price $30, sale $15
Toys R Us: Sing a ma Jings - regular price $9.79, sale price $7.49
Toys R Us: Smart Trike 3-in-1 Lady Bug Trike - regular price $129.99, sale price $99.99
Amazon: Cashmere sweaters - 50 percent off
Amazon: 14K White Diamond Earrings - regular price $300, sale $199.99
Walmart: Shark Steam Mop - regular price $59, sale $36
Here are some tips for how you can shop like a pro this season using apps and websites:
These sites will track a product and send you an alert when there's a drop in the price:
Pricegrabber.com: For price comparison and e-mail alerts.
Shopittome.com: Best for clothing and shoes.
Priceprotectr.com: Tracks after you purchase. Many stores will refund you if an item goes on sale within 30 days of your purchase.
Bfads.net: Compiles comprehensive online information on Black Friday deals.
Savings.com: Best aggregators of deals.
WePay.com. Everyone kicks in for a group gift.
Facebook: Follow dealsplus, for alerts on deals as well as prizes and coupons.
Better Christmas List, $1.99: List, budget and track your progress on your Christmas gift quest. You can keep it all password-protected on your phone.
Car Finder, 99 cents: Uses GPS to mark the location of where you parked your car in the mall parking lot.
Shopsavvy (free): Best bar code scanning app. It gives you online price comparison when you scan a barcode, and shows prices in local stores near to your location.
CNET Reviews (free): Compare specs and get expert opinions and ratings on tech gifts, all while you're in the store.
FastMall (free): Maps bathrooms, stores and exits in thousands of malls across the country.