Black Friday from start to finish

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Black Friday
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Black Friday from start to finish
Shoppers wait in line outside a Best Buy Co. store ahead of Black Friday in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Thursday, Nov. 27, 2014. An estimated 140 million U.S. shoppers will hit stores and the Web this weekend in search of post-Thanksgiving discounts, kicking off what retailers predict will be the best holiday season in three years. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Target shoppers wait to check out on Black Friday, Nov. 28, 2014, in South Portland, Maine. The store opened at midnight. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR SEARS - A Sears store manager welcomes customers minutes before it opens its doors on Thursday, Nov. 27, 2014. More than 250 shoppers lined up at the Sears store in Schaumburg Ill.. Sears, a leading integrated retailer, offered more than 1,000 doorbuster deals starting at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. Sears stores will remain open until 10 p.m. on Black Friday. (Jean-Marc Giboux/AP Images for Sears)
IMAGEN DISTRIBUIDA PARA MACY'S - Los compradores aprovechan las ofertas del “Viernes Negro” durante la apertura del Macy’s en Lenox a las 6:00 pm del Jueves, 27 de noviembre 2014 en Atlanta (John Amis / AP Images para Macy’s)
Target shoppers Kelly Foley, left, Debbie Winslow, center, and Ann Rich use a smartphone to look at a competitor's prices while shopping shortly after midnight on Black Friday, Nov. 28, 2014, in South Portland, Maine. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
Target shoppers head for the checkout line with a flat screen television just after midnight on Black Friday, Nov. 28, 2014, in South Portland, Maine. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
Shoppers head into Target just after their doors opened at midnight on Black Friday, Nov. 28, 2014, in South Portland, Maine. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR WALMART - Customers wrap up their holiday shopping during Walmart's Black Friday events on Thursday, Nov. 27, 2014 in Bentonville, Ark. Deep savings continue at Walmart Friday though Cyber Monday as part of five days of events in stores and online. (Photo by Gunnar Rathbun/Invision for Walmart/AP Images)
IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR WALMART - Customers wrap up their holiday shopping during Walmart's Black Friday events on Thursday, Nov. 27, 2014 in Bentonville, Ark. Deep savings continue at Walmart Friday though Cyber Monday as part of five days of events in stores and online. (Photo by Gunnar Rathbun/Invision for Walmart/AP Images)
IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR WALMART - Customers shop hundreds of deals during Walmart's first Black Friday event at 6 p.m. Thanksgiving night, Thursday, Nov. 27, 2014 in Bentonville, Ark. Deep savings continue at Walmart Friday through Cyber Monday as part of five days of events in stores and online. (Photo by Gunnar Rathbun/Invision for Walmart/AP Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 28: Shoppers carry recent purchases through Herald Square on the morning of November 28, 2014 in New York City. The Friday after Thanksgiving, also known as Black Friday, traditionally marks the beginning of the Holiday season. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 28: Shoppers carry recent purchases through Herald Square on the morning of November 28, 2014 in New York City. The Friday after Thanksgiving, also known as Black Friday, traditionally marks the beginning of the Holiday season. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
GREENFIELD, WI - NOVEMBER 28: Shoppers wait in temperatures in the mid teens as they wait to get their holiday shopping season going at the annual Black Friday sales event at the Sports authority store November 28, 2014 in Greenfield, Wisconsin. (Photo by Darren Hauck/Getty Images)
WEST ALLIS, WI - NOVEMBER 28: Shoppers file into the store as they get their holiday shopping season going at the annual Black Friday sales event at the Home Depot November 28, 2014 in West Allis, Wisconsin. (Photo by Darren Hauck/Getty Images)
WEST ALLIS, WI - NOVEMBER 28: Shoppers line up as they wait to get their holiday shopping season going at the annual Black Friday sales event at the Home Depot November 28, 2014 in West Allis, Wisconsin. (Photo by Darren Hauck/Getty Images)
WEST ALLIS, WI - NOVEMBER 28: Shoppers line up as they wait to get their holiday shopping season going at the annual Black Friday sales event at the Home Depot November 28, 2014 in West Allis, Wisconsin. (Photo by Darren Hauck/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 27: Macy's opens it's doors at 6pm for Black Friday on November 27, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew Toth/Getty Images for Hilton Garden Inn)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 27: Macy's opens it's doors at 6pm for Black Friday on November 27, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew Toth/Getty Images for Hilton Garden Inn)
MIAMI, FL - NOVEMBER 27: Guests waiting in line to shop Black Friday deals at Target Dadeland South in Miami were surprised by Telemundo host, Jorge Bernal and a group of caroling kids at the Black Friday At Target Dadeland South In Miami at Target Dadeland South on November 27, 2014 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images for Target)
Customers wait to enter an Asda supermarket, operated by Wal-Mart Stores Inc., ahead of a Black Friday discount sale in the Wembley district of London, U.K., on Friday, Nov. 28, 2014. Black Friday has caught on in the U.K. and worldwide over the last few years as the rise of the Internet has made the event a global phenomenon, with customers always being just one click away from the deals offered by U.S. retailers online. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A customer speaks on a mobile phone while standing in the bay of an empty LED television sales display during a Black Friday discount sale at an Asda supermarket, operated by Wal-Mart Stores Inc., in the Wembley district of London, U.K., on Friday, Nov. 28, 2014. Black Friday has caught on in the U.K. and worldwide over the last few years as the rise of the Internet has made the event a global phenomenon, with customers always being just one click away from the deals offered by U.S. retailers online. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A customer selects a kettle from a sales display in the electronics section of an Asda supermarket, operated by Wal-Mart Stores Inc., in the Wembley district of London, U.K., on Friday, Nov. 28, 2014. Black Friday has caught on in the U.K. and worldwide over the last few years as the rise of the Internet has made the event a global phenomenon, with customers always being just one click away from the deals offered by U.S. retailers online. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 28: A woman carries bags of shopping on Oxford Street during 'Black Friday' sales on November 28, 2014 in London, England. Originating in the USA as a sales day that following the Thanksgiving holiday, 'Black Friday' is becoming an increasingly popular shopping day in the UK. (Photo by Rob Stothard/Getty Images)
Customers fall to the floor as they grapple for an LED television during a Black Friday discount sale at an Asda supermarket, operated by Wal-Mart Stores Inc., in the Wembley district of London, U.K., on Friday, Nov. 28, 2014. Black Friday has caught on in the U.K. and worldwide over the last few years as the rise of the Internet has made the event a global phenomenon, with customers always being just one click away from the deals offered by U.S. retailers online. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 28: will.i.am and General Manager of Bloomingdale's Richard Mast open doors and pump up holiday shoppers with with i.am PULS during black Friday at Bloomingdale's on November 28, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for I.amPULS and will.i.am)
IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR KMART - Customers are the first to shop doorbuster deals at Kmart when doors open at 6 a.m. Thanksgiving morning, Nov. 27, 2014 in Chicago, Ill. Kmart is offering three rounds of doorbuster sales through Black Friday, Nov. 28, 2014 on the hottest on-trend gifts from popular brands – many exclusive to Kmart – everything from apparel to tools, home decor and electronics. (Jean-Marc Giboux/AP Images for Kmart)
A customer transports a boxed LED television in the basket of a mobility scooter during a Black Friday discount sale at an Asda supermarket, operated by Wal-Mart Stores Inc., in the Wembley district of London, U.K., on Friday, Nov. 28, 2014. Black Friday has caught on in the U.K. and worldwide over the last few years as the rise of the Internet has made the event a global phenomenon, with customers always being just one click away from the deals offered by U.S. retailers online. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 27: Police take security measures as people shopping to benefit from the discounts within the Black Friday, regarded as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season, following Thanksgiving Day in New York, United States on November 27, 2014. (Photo by Bilgin Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A customer gestures as he queues to purchase goods including an LED televisions during a Black Friday discount sale at an Asda supermarket, operated by Wal-Mart Stores Inc., in the Wembley district of London, U.K., on Friday, Nov. 28, 2014. Black Friday has caught on in the U.K. and worldwide over the last few years as the rise of the Internet has made the event a global phenomenon, with customers always being just one click away from the deals offered by U.S. retailers online. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Customers push shopping carts loaded with LED television sets during a Black Friday discount sale at an Asda supermarket, operated by Wal-Mart Stores Inc., in the Wembley district of London, U.K., on Friday, Nov. 28, 2014. Black Friday has caught on in the U.K. and worldwide over the last few years as the rise of the Internet has made the event a global phenomenon, with customers always being just one click away from the deals offered by U.S. retailers online. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A customer, center, transports a boxed LED television in the basket of a mobility scooter during a Black Friday discount sale at an Asda supermarket, operated by Wal-Mart Stores Inc., in the Wembley district of London, U.K., on Friday, Nov. 28, 2014. Black Friday has caught on in the U.K. and worldwide over the last few years as the rise of the Internet has made the event a global phenomenon, with customers always being just one click away from the deals offered by U.S. retailers online. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Customers queue at a checkout counter to pay for the goods, including an LED television and a toaster, during a Black Friday discount sale at an Asda supermarket, operated by Wal-Mart Stores Inc., in the Wembley district of London, U.K., on Friday, Nov. 28, 2014. Black Friday has caught on in the U.K. and worldwide over the last few years as the rise of the Internet has made the event a global phenomenon, with customers always being just one click away from the deals offered by U.S. retailers online. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 27: People shop to benefit from the discounts within the Black Friday, regarded as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season, following Thanksgiving Day in New York, United States on November 27, 2014. (Photo by Bilgin Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 27: People shop to benefit from the discounts within the Black Friday, regarded as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season, following Thanksgiving Day in New York, United States on November 27, 2014. (Photo by Bilgin Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A customer browses DVD's on sale at a Best Buy Co. store ahead of Black Friday in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Thursday, Nov. 27, 2014. An estimated 140 million U.S. shoppers will hit stores and the Web this weekend in search of post-Thanksgiving discounts, kicking off what retailers predict will be the best holiday season in three years. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A Best Buy Co. employee counts U.S. twenty and ten dollar banknotes at a Best Buy Co. store ahead of Black Friday in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Thursday, Nov. 27, 2014. An estimated 140 million U.S. shoppers will hit stores and the Web this weekend in search of post-Thanksgiving discounts, kicking off what retailers predict will be the best holiday season in three years. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Shoppers hold items to be purchased as they wait in line at a Best Buy Co. store ahead of Black Friday in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Thursday, Nov. 27, 2014. An estimated 140 million U.S. shoppers will hit stores and the Web this weekend in search of post-Thanksgiving discounts, kicking off what retailers predict will be the best holiday season in three years. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A shopper, front, reaches for Beats Electronics LLC Beats by Dr. Dre headphones as other shoppers wait in line at a Best Buy Co. store ahead of Black Friday in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Thursday, Nov. 27, 2014. An estimated 140 million U.S. shoppers will hit stores and the Web this weekend in search of post-Thanksgiving discounts, kicking off what retailers predict will be the best holiday season in three years. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 27: People shop to benefit from the discounts within the Black Friday, regarded as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season, following Thanksgiving Day in New York, United States on November 27, 2014. (Photo by Bilgin Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 27: People shop to benefit from the discounts within the Black Friday, regarded as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season, following Thanksgiving Day in New York, United States on November 27, 2014. (Photo by Bilgin Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Employees try to control customers as they attempt to get the last remaining LED televisions during a Black Friday discount sale at an Asda supermarket, operated by Wal-Mart Stores Inc., in the Wembley district of London, U.K., on Friday, Nov. 28, 2014. Black Friday has caught on in the U.K. and worldwide over the last few years as the rise of the Internet has made the event a global phenomenon, with customers always being just one click away from the deals offered by U.S. retailers online. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A customer stands with shopping carts laden with boxed electronic goods, including LED televisions, as he waits at a checkout desk during a Black Friday discount sale at an Asda supermarket, operated by Wal-Mart Stores Inc., in the Wembley district of London, U.K., on Friday, Nov. 28, 2014. Black Friday has caught on in the U.K. and worldwide over the last few years as the rise of the Internet has made the event a global phenomenon, with customers always being just one click away from the deals offered by U.S. retailers online. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Customers rush to get to a sales display of reduced LED television sets during a Black Friday discount sale at an Asda supermarket, operated by Wal-Mart Stores Inc., in the Wembley district of London, U.K., on Friday, Nov. 28, 2014. Black Friday has caught on in the U.K. and worldwide over the last few years as the rise of the Internet has made the event a global phenomenon, with customers always being just one click away from the deals offered by U.S. retailers online. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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NEW YORK (AP) - Before some people opened their eyes, Black Friday was already well underway.

The traditional kickoff to the holiday shopping season has become a two-day affair, with more stores opening before people put down their turkey legs on Thanksgiving. There's good reason for the creep; businesses know shoppers will only spend so much, and they want the first crack at grabbing those holiday dollars.

Still, millions of Americans are expected to head out in search of steep discounts on Black Friday, the traditional start to the annual shopping binge. The National Retail Federation forecasts holiday sales will grow 4.1 percent to $616.9 billion - the highest increase since 2011.

The holiday shopping season is a make-or-break time for many retailers, which can get as much as 20 percent of their annual sales during the time. Already, retailers have resorted to steep discounting to lure shoppers.

Here's a look at what's happening this Black Friday.

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Early-bird special

The National Retail Federation expected 25.6 million shoppers to head to stores on Thanksgiving, which would be slightly down from last year. The numbers aren't in yet, there were crowds across the country.

In the Chicago suburb of Naperville, Illinois, the parking lot of a Wal-Mart store was full roughly 30 minutes before Thanksgiving deals started at 6 p.m., including $199 iPad minis.

Macy's said more than 15,000 people were lined up outside its flagship location in New York City's Herald Square when the doors opened at 6 p.m.

And thousands of people were at Citadel Outlets in Los Angeles, which opened at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving for a "Moonlight Madness" all-night sale. Hordes of cars inched past rows of palm trees wrapped in red and white lights.

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Too Late Already?

Those waking early for some Black Friday shopping may have missed the boat.

It turns out the hottest deals of the season may be on Thanksgiving, according to an analysis of sales data and store circulars by two research firms.

Wendy Iscra was doing a little happy dance Thanksgiving night after she left the Wal-Mart in Naperville, Illinois, with her husband. They had just snagged one of the limited number of iPad minis on sale, as well as a Disney Infinity 2.0 toy box for their 6-year-old daughter. They saved about $100 on the two items.

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Buyer's remorse?

When stores first started opening on Thanksgiving a few years ago, the move was met with resistance by those who thought the holiday should remain sacred.

Some Thanksgiving shoppers still felt a tinge of guilt even as they snagged deals on the holiday. "I think it's ridiculous stores open on Thanksgiving," said Reggie Thomas, 44, a director who bought a Sony sound bar for $349, about $100 off, at Best Buy in New York on Thanksgiving.

Cathyliz Lopez, 20, who spent $700 at Target on Thanksgiving, agrees. "It's ruining the spirit of Thanksgiving," she said Thursday. "But ... the best deals were today."

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Ferguson protests at stores

Dozens of people interrupted holiday shopping at major retail stores around the St. Louis area to speak out about a grand jury's decision not to indict the officer who fatally shot Michael Brown.

The protests began Thanksgiving night and continued early Friday. Protesters spent a few minutes at each store, shouting inside as law enforcement stood watch. There was no immediate word of any arrests.

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A New Tradition, For Workers

Walmart is expected to be the target of another round of protests calling on the company to pay its workers $15 an hour. The union-backed group Our Walmart says demonstrations are planned at 1,600 stores around the country. Organizers say workers already started walking off the job on Wednesday and some staged a sit-down strike at a store in Washington, D.C.

Brooke Buchanan, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman, played down the impact of the protests. She said past protests have focused on a handful of locations with a handful of workers.

"Perception is not reality in this case. We've seen this story before," she said.

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Black Friday, an American Export

Americans won't be the only ones searching for deals on Black Friday; the shopping derby is becoming a tradition in the United Kingdom as well.

Online retailer Amazon is believed to have introduced the concept to the U.K. four years ago, with more businesses joining every year since. In its online survey of 10,000 U.K. shoppers, Verdict Research found 47 percent of the U.K. shoppers plan to participate in the event.

The trend marks a shift for shopping habits in the U.K. Typically, the day after Christmas - known as Boxing Day - is when retailers offer their big deals.

Black Friday Chaos Comes to the UK

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Sales Bang

Black Friday is also one of the biggest days of the year for gun sales.

That puts pressure on the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which is run by a division of the FBI. NICS researchers have until the end of the third business day following an attempted firearm purchase to determine whether a buyer is eligible. After that, buyers have the right to get their guns even if the check wasn't completed.

Last year, the clock ran out more than 186,000 times.

The problem is the records submitted by states, which aren't always updated to reflect restraining orders or other reasons to deny a sale.

NICS did about 58,000 checks on a typical day last year, with the figure surging to 145,000 on Black Friday.

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