Nov. 23, 2012— -- Black Friday got off to its earliest start ever as many shoppers cleared the table of Thanksgiving dinner and headed straight to the malls and big-box retailers across the nation to snag goods at bargain prices.
More than 10,000 people were wrapped around Macy's flagship store in New York City before the doors opened at midnight this morning. Across the country, up to 147 million people are expected to shop at some point this weekend.
Thousands lined up outside a Target in Chicago ahead of a 9 p.m. start time.
"I'm here because my mom is making me, because she said I couldn't eat any of the Thanksgiving food if I didn't hold her place in line," Alex Horton told ABC News station WLS-TV in Chicago Thursday.
Many critics panned the early start this year, saying it cuts into quality time that should be spent with family and friends.
PHOTOS: Black Friday Shoppers Hit Stores
Chicago resident Claudia Fonseca got creative and took Thanksgiving to go.
"We brought a plate, but that's about it, we've been here since 11 a.m. And that's it," Fonseca told WLS Thursday.
Black Friday makes headlines every year, but not always for the right reason as violence has become linked to the day after Thanksgiving tradition.
In Los Angeles, police aren't taking any chances with the LAPD deploying dozens of extra officers around the city to make sure things don't get out of hand.
Ontario Mills shopping mall in Los Angeles opened at midnight last year, but decided to give excited shoppers a two-hour head start to get their hands on the cut-rate deals, especially for electronics.
"This is my first year," Gabriela Mendoza told ABC News station KABC-TV Thursday. "I tried to stay away from this but I've heard it's really exciting so, I'm looking forward to it."
Things have been relatively calmer compared to the incident last year when a woman was accused of unleashing pepper spray on other shoppers in a dash for electronics at Walmart in Los Angeles.
The Black Friday madness kicked off Thursday when a south Sacramento, Calif., Kmart opened its doors at 6 a.m. Thursday. A shopper in a line of people that had formed nearly two hours earlier reportedly threatened to stab the people around him.
At two Kmarts in Indianapolis, police officers were called in after fights broke out among shoppers trying to score vouchers for a 32-inch plasma TV going for less than $200, police told ABC News affiliate RTV6. No injuries or arrest were made.
Stores have taken preventive measures in hopes of shoppers and tempers at ease, where safety is the main concern for everyone involved.
Mall of America has tightened its Black Friday policies and will bar unaccompanied minors from the megamall all day today. After a chair-throwing melee last year after Christmas, which was captured on smartphones and posted online, the mall is taking steps to prevent any repeat.
At the Arden Fair Mall in Sacramento, Calif., security planned to place barricades at the mall entrance to control the crowds and officials planned to double the number of security officers.
ABC News' John Schriffen and Sarah Netter contributed to this report.