There are few traditions more emblematic of American consumerism than Black Friday -- the ritual start of the holiday season and one of the biggest shopping days of the year.
This time around, retailers seem particularly antsy for crowds to arrive. Stores like Walmart, Kmart, Target, Sears and Toys R Us are opening their doors to Black Friday shoppers on Thanksgiving Day -- a move that has been met with resistance from employees who have to work on the holiday.
We'll be providing live updates here with everything you need to know about Black Friday, from news and updates on the day's planned protests to information on where to find the best shopping deals.
We'd love to hear from you about your Black Friday experiences. Please email news tips and photos to firstname.lastname@example.org
BEFORE YOU GO
11/23/2012 10:21 PM EST
Return Policies You Need To Know
The holiday shopping season is in full force. And we bet you're endlessly looking for the perfect gift for mom, dad and everyone in between. (If you need a little help, check out our Gift Guide page for some awesome suggestions.) And while we love the idea of giving and receiving, we don’t always end up with the right item.
Head over to HuffPost Home for details on Walmart, Target and other major retailers.
11/23/2012 8:24 PM EST
Black Friday Mobile Sales On The Rise
Here's a quick Thanksgiving/Black Friday question for you.
In the run-up to Christmas, Hanukkah, and all the other gift-laden winter holidays, would you rather go after a bargain by letting your fingers loll about on the screen of a smartphone or tablet -- or mix it up with the punch-throwing, gun-toting, um, customers at your local big box store?
We thought so. And if numbers from eBay are any indication, that instinct toward self-preservation is strong in many of us (or at least an increasing number of us). For the numbers show that, since last year, Thanksgiving and Black Friday have -- not surprisingly -- seen significant jumps in the number of people shopping via mobile device.
Read more here.
11/23/2012 7:37 PM EST
For A National Guardsman, $330 A Week At Walmart
A HuffPost reader from Alabama writes:
"My son is a member of the Alabama National Guardsmen! He also works for Walmart in the Shipping and Handling Department. My son works 40 hours a week and is paid $8.25 an hour. My son has a wife and four children, two of whom are disabled. How can Walmart billionaires be allowed to get away with their slave labor ways of doing things?"
11/23/2012 6:50 PM EST
Walmart Strikes Fail To Distract Black Friday Shoppers
HuffPost's Alice Hines reports:
DALLAS and LOS ANGELES -- As she neared the entrance of a Dallas-area Walmart shortly before midnight on the eve of the shopping frenzy known as Black Friday, Tammy was both shocked and thrilled to encounter a group of more than 40 protesters.
Having worked for a dozen years as a cashier at another national retail chain, Walgreens, Tammy said she felt an immediate sense of solidarity with the Walmart employees.
"Walmart cuts hours and benefits to push people out," said Tammy, using her phone to capture video of the protest. "It's the same thing at Walgreens. The workers are suffering while billionaires make all the money."
But despite her professed anger at corporate greed, Tammy -- who declined to provide her last name lest she jeopardize her job -- was not deterred from entering Walmart to purchase a TV on a layaway plan. Her own low wages made her feel a sense of community with the striking Walmart workers, but those same wages also generated pressure to find and buy goods at low prices -- precisely the demand that Walmart has fed to turn itself into the world's largest retailer.
Read more here.
11/23/2012 6:16 PM EST
LOOK: Walmart Protesters Tweet Black Friday Photos
From HuffPost Business:
Never imagine you'd see Walmart workers striking against their employer? Now you can, using the Twitter hashtag "#walmartstrikers," a phrase accompanying many photos tweeted out by the protesters during the Black Friday protests.
Walmart doesn't appear overly concerned. In a Friday morning press release, the retail giant said planned protests haven't affected the company's Black Friday plans so far:
"Only 26 protests occurred at stores last night and many of them did not include any Walmart associates,” Bill Simon, Walmart U.S. president and chief executive officer said in the release. “We estimate that less than 50 associates participated in the protest nationwide. In fact, this year, roughly the same number of associates missed their scheduled shift as last year."
The strikes are being organized by OUR Walmart, a labor group backed by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union. Check out some photos from Twitter here.
11/23/2012 6:02 PM EST
'The State Has No Qualms About Leaving Us Penniless'
In an email to HuffPost, Dawn Bess in Missouri writes:
"No one is striking here. Missouri is an 'at will' employment state and the employers pay the unemployment insurance. It no longer is deducted from our paychecks like it was 5 or 10 years ago, so if you are fired in Missouri for ANY reason that your employer can conjure up, the state denies us unemployment compensation. We can file a protest but the state always takes the employer's side and we lose. It's a horrible situation here in Missouri and everyone is terrified of losing their jobs for any reason because the state has no qualms about leaving us penniless and homeless. There is no security net in MO for workers who lose their job. So short of the long, no, there are no strikes here."
11/23/2012 4:48 PM EST
Look: Demonstrators Arrested Outside Walmart
Demonstrators are arrested by police after protesting outside a Walmart store Friday Nov. 23, 2012, in Paramount, Calif. Wal-Mart employees and union supporters are taking part in today's nationwide demonstration for better pay and benefits A union-backed group called OUR Walmart, which includes former and current workers, was staging the demonstrations and walkouts at hundreds of stores on Black Friday, the day when retailers traditionally turn a profit for the year. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
11/23/2012 4:31 PM EST
Man Threatens To Stab Kmart Customers
One man's frustration with Black Friday crowds reached a boiling point early Friday morning when he was caught on video threatening to stab anyone that came too close to him.
According to CNN, the crowd at a Kmart in Sacramento, Calif. took on a "mob mentality" as the store opened its doors to shoppers who had been in line for hours.
11/23/2012 3:57 PM EST
Two People Shot Outside Florida Walmart
Two people were shot outside a Walmart in Tallahassee, Fla., on Friday, police confirmed to WCTV.
The victims were a man and a woman, according to witnesses. Neither have suffered life-threatening injuries, say police.
The scene was described to the Tallahassee Democrat as such:
Kollet Probst said she had finished much of her holiday shopping when she returned to the Walmart on Apalachee Parkway to make a return.
She said she was waiting in the customer service department when a crowd of people came running into the store from the parking lot. Shots started going off, and customers ducked for cover.
"Everybody started trying to find a place to hide," she said.
While police have not yet commented on the cause of the incident, witnesses at the scene told WCTV that "two couples were arguing and one of the men stared firing," before fleeing the scene in his car.
The suspect is still reportedly on the loose.
11/23/2012 3:52 PM EST
Dallas Police Subdue Shoplifter Suspect With Taser
Witness Gloria Lira provided WFAA with a cell-phone video recording of the incident. According to WFAA, one can hear the police order the suspect to put his hands behind him and the sound of the stun gun.