Black Friday was marred for many by the usual chaos and scuffling this year – but in some places things got truly nasty.
One such incident occurred in Houston, where a fight in a car park saw one person shot and another stabbed.
Another saw the police being accused of violence after a protest in a Missouri mall ended with people reportedly being thrown into windows by cops and Bruce Franks Jr., a Missouri state representative, among those arrested.
But despite all that, experts say that – in terms of turnout, at least – Black Friday 2017 was the best in years.
One man was stabbed and another shot outside Willowbrook Mall in Houston, Texas, on Black Friday. Witnesses said that the two men began arguing in the parking lot – though exactly why remains to be uncovered. Both were hospitalized
That same day in St Louis, Missouri, a protest (left and right) against police brutality, banking practices and other issues led to seven people being arrested. Protesters said they were leaving peacefully when police kicked off the violence
The Houston incident occurred in the Sears parking lot outside Willowbrook Mall at 12:30pm on Friday when two Hispanic men got into an argument.
One was shot and the other stabbed, Fox 26 reported, though neither died. Both were then flown by helicopter to Life Flight medical helicopter to Memorial Hermann Hospital – Texas Medical Center for treatment.
Police said that although there were plenty of people in the parking lot at the time, none of the witnesses knew anything about what had occurred.
‘We don’t know if they know each other, we don’t know if they got into an argument inside the mall and they came out here, we don’t know any of that,’ said Houston Police Department Sergeant Richard Rodriguez.
Rodriguez said the incident was confined to the two men and that no one else is at risk.
However, he warned shoppers to be aware of their surroundings when picking up gifts.
‘It’s all about situational awareness,’ he said. ‘Know where you’re at and who’s around you. People are out shopping and the criminals are out shopping for your stuff.’
Situational awareness was certainly needed for those visiting the St Louis Galleria mall in Richmond Heights, Missouri, on Black Friday, as the usual holiday hubbub was accompanied by a mass protest.
The hundreds marched through the large suburban mall to protest a raft of grievances based around the treatment of black people in the city, from police brutality to bank loan practices.
The Missouri protesters had targeted the mall (left) as they felt economic disruption was the only thing authorities would care about. They said police targeted people who were not part of the protest and acted antagonistically and aggressively
It came after a November 2 announcement by a group compromised of local African-American clergy and activists who said the only way to have their issues taken seriously was to impact the local economy.
Protesters said the march was peaceful until the end, when they were asked to leave the mall. As they complied, several protesters later said, police attacked a man who was not part of their group.
Darryl Gray, a pastor, said: ‘[The police] asked us to disperse and we were leaving. We had a shopper not even in our crowd chanting in support of us. Police turned around and grabbed a black guy who was chanting.’
Among the arrested was state Rep. Bruce Franks Jr (pictured). He was reportedly hauled off for intervening in the arrest of a bystander who had chanted support for the protesters. Police have not confirmed who was arrested
Gray said that when state Rep. Bruce Franks Jr, who was present at the action, tried to intervene, he was forced to the ground and arrested.
‘He had not touched anyone,’ said Gray, who characterized the police response as ‘overly aggressive’ and ‘brutal’.
An Instagram user who recorded footage of a scuffle said she was shopping for Christmas presents when she ‘witnessed a kid who wasn’t even part of the protest get slammed against a glass wall, and thrown to the ground by multiple officers.’
‘I can say from first hand experience today the people were protesting peacefully, and it was the police who antagonized, and facilitated the violence,’ she added.
And a Twitter user, Dr JA Salaam, recorded footage of protester chanting ‘No justice, no profits’ and ‘You’re gonna stop killing us’ as they marched through the mall. He characterized the police as ‘attacking’ two people as the group was leaving.
Police have not revealed the names of any of those who were arrested.
But despite all of the chaos, experts told the New York Post that 2017’s Black Friday was – economically, at least – a success.
‘This is the best Black Friday in three or four years,’ said Craig Johnson, president of Customer Growth Partners retail research firm. ‘It’s not quite as robust as the ones of the mid-2000s, but the best of the last few years.’
That came despite reports that shoppers are now spending more online this holiday season than in brick-and-mortar stores.
While most shoppers were peaceful in their pursuit of cut-priced goods, brawls and tugs-of-war were reported elsewhere in the US. One, in a Buckle store in Hoover, Alabama, resulted in two women being arrested.
Fights broke out elsewhere during the Black Friday sales. At the Buckle store in Riverchase Galleria in Hoover, Alabama, a mass brawl which began with two women shut down the whole shopping center
Both of the women in the Buckle Store brawl were arrested. Police have since revealed that their fight was personal and not shopping-related
The violence was even more severe elsewhere in Missouri, where a 19-year-old man was shot outside a mall as shoppers rushed to snap up cut-price goods inside. He is in a critical condition.
Neither incident of violence in Missouri and Alabama were sparked by fights over sale items, according to local police.
For the most part, the shopping was civilized and, in some cases, orderly.
At the Mall of America in Minneapolis, Minnesota, 2,500 lined up neatly in rows for the doors opening at 5am.
Others camped outside a Walmart in Massachusetts which opened at 1am and will remain open until 11pm on Friday night, giving bargain hunters almost 24 hours of uninterrupted shopping.
Traditionally, most on-the-ground shopping is done on Black Friday and online shoppers wait until Cyber Monday when prices are reduced even further.
But this year at-home shoppers flooded retail websites early, causing some, including Lowes home improvements, to crash.
Between Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday, sales are predicted to hit $19.7 billion.
The NRF expects holiday retail sales in November and December – excluding automobiles, gasoline and restaurants – to increase between 3.6 and 4 per cent for a total of $678.75 billion to $682 billion, up from $655.8 billion last year.
US stores had to get creative this year with tricks to lure shoppers off the internet and back into the thick of it.
At BJ’s in Northborough, Massachusetts, people filled their shopping carts with wine, TVs and toilet paper as the sales got underway
One video taken at a Walmart in south Chicago shows shoppers swarming over a table to pick up discounted goods. The shoppers are seen fighting each other at the checkouts grabbing electronics, gifts and more amid scenes of chaos
Shopping malls in several states scheduled Santa photo shoots with family pets as one way to attract customers in the face of the exploding online shopping realm.
Brick-and-mortar stores have expanded their bag of tricks – and gotten increasingly bold – as they look to lure shoppers who might otherwise be happy to stay on the couch and pick up gifts while still in their pajamas.
For the holiday shopping season, malls are hosting gingerbread decorating sessions, visits from the Grinch and ugly Christmas sweater nights.
Temporary ice skating rinks and magical winter decor – like the famous Macy’s window displays in New York – are also being used to draw customers intent on an in-person holiday experience.
Walmart stores plans to throw more than 20,000 ‘holiday parties’ at which children can pose for ‘selfies with Santa’.
The flagship Bloomingdale’s store in New York has held yoga classes in the past, while Nordstrom has displayed Tesla cars near the section for men’s suits. A number of shops now also ply visitors with food and drink.
‘All of these retailers are desperate to get people into their stores,’ said analyst Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail, who added a note of caution about all the promotions.
‘Whether they work or not is open to debate.’
More than 800 people lined up outside a Best Buy in Irving, Texas, on Thanksgiving.
The electronics store had some of the most impressive lines with line in Tennessee snaking into the parking lot.
This year’s frenzy will see Americans spend an astonishing $20billion in stores and online, according to consumer experts.
Experts predict 164 million Americans will spend nearly $1,000 each over the holiday weekend.
The mayhem began at 5pm on Thanksgiving Day as thousands of bargain hunters rushed inside stores across the US in search of amazing sales, door buster deals and limited-time offers.
Macy’s Herald Square in Manhattan saw hundreds of people lined up outside their doors waiting to get their hands on deals like cosmetic and perfume sets from $10 to $20 as well as 40 per cent off on boots and shoes.
Shoppers were also seen flocking to its Apple shop for deals on gadgets like the Apple Watch.