Shopping Frenzy Over, Tally Begins

A fellow shopper reaches down to help a fallen Josephine Hoffman, 73, as the crowd behind her pushes through and rushes past security guards Friday, Nov. 23, 2005, at Brandsmart at the Sawgrass Mills Mall in Sunrise, Fla.
The pre-dawn sales frenzy is over — and now the tally begins. Steep discounts and expanded hours drew hordes to the nation's malls in what merchants hope are signs consumer spending will be lively for the holidays. More people jammed the stores early, according to early reports, and more than a few testy shoppers scuffled in a rush to grab bargains, from notebook computers to cashmere sweaters.

Several major retailers, including Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Sears, Roebuck and Co. and Macy's, as well as mall operator Taubman Centers Inc., estimated they drew bigger crowds on the official start of the holiday season than a year ago. Lena Michaud, spokeswoman at Target Corp., which had a strong holiday season a year ago, said traffic was at least as heavy.

Consumer electronics, including MP3 players, laptop computers, and even pricey flat-screen TVs, were the main attraction, but apparel also fared well, helped by the arrival of frigid weather in many parts of the country, according to Marshal Cohen, senior industry analyst at NPD Group Inc., a market research firm.

No single standout was reported among toys, and popular items included Hasbro Inc.'s Idog, Fisher-Price's Dora the Explorer's Talking Kitchen, and Zizzle Inc.'s iZ, according to John Barbour, president of Toys "R" Us' U.S. division, who reported "brisk" business.

"This is the most promotional Black Friday we have seen," said Scott Krugman, a spokesman for the Washington-based National Retail Federation.

Sales this year will be impacted by the Internet like never before, reports CBS News correspondent Byron Pitts Michael Brim, a college freshman, created his own Web site that allowed consumers to window shop – weeks before Black Friday – as a way to educate consumers.

"I'm catering to the average Joe, the average person who's looking to get a deal," says Brim.

Pitts reports that Brim's site has received more than two million hits, and angry retailers have threatened to sue, arguing it jeopardizes their holiday business.

The bargains were so good at Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which offered better deals than last year, that things got out of hand. In Cascade Township, east of Grand Rapids, Mich., a woman fell as dozens of people rushed into a store for the 5 a.m. opening. Several stepped on her, and a few became entangled as a man pushed them to the ground to keep them away.

When the rush ended, the woman and a 13-year-old girl suffered minor injuries.

In nearby Grandville, Mich., two shoppers were hurt when they slipped on a wet floor as they entered a Wal-Mart, fire Lt. Lynnae White said. One of the injured was after a bargain notebook computer, he said. Neither was hurt seriously.

The same computer discount was the catalyst for trouble at a Wal-Mart in Orlando, Fla., where a man allegedly cut in line to buy one. He was wrestled to the ground, according to a video shown by an ABC affiliate, WFTV-TV.