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Black Friday: Bargain-hunting mobs on the rampage

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Despite all the doom and gloom in the global economy, Black Friday online sales in the US jumped by 26 per cent from last year.

Ecommerce sites bagged $816m worth of sales this year, compared to $648m in 2010.

"Despite some analysts’ predictions that the flurry of brick-and-mortar retailers opening their doors early for Black Friday would pull dollars from online retail, we still saw a banner day for e-commerce with more than $800m in spending,” said comScore chairman, Gian Fulgoni.

"With brick-and-mortar retail also reporting strong gains on Black Friday, it’s clear that the heavy promotional activity had a positive impact on both channels," he added.

Amazon led the etailers, with 50 per cent more bargain-hunters than any other site, followed by Walmart, Best Buy, Target and Apple.

In total, 50 million Americans went shopping online on Black Friday, up 35 per cent from 2010.

Black Friday is the traditional kick-off to the holiday season shopping in the US. As the day after Thanksgiving, people are frequently off work and retailers also lay on a load of bargains and discounts, making it the busiest shopping day of the year.

The discount-mad consumers are sometimes as bit too intent on bagging their bargains, resulting in extra police and security guards on duty, and inevitably a number of incidents.

The first and most widely reported of these was late on Thanksgiving Day, when around 20 customers walked away with minor injuries after being pepper-sprayed by a woman looking for that killer edge in the race for discounted Xboxes. Apparently, as the crowd ripped at each other in their eagerness to get to the games, she thought she was about to be robbed, prompting her to reach for the pepper spray.

A range of other scuffles and fights broke out among fevered bargain-hunters, but there were more serious incidents as well.

One man was shot in the early hours of Black Friday outside a Walmart in California after he and his family refused to hand over their purchases to two armed men. He was reported as in critical but stable condition by USA Today.

A grandfather was roughed up by police in a Walmart in Phoenix when he put a video game in the waistband of his trousers so he could lift his grandson out of the way of the crowd. Witnesses said police thought the 54-year-old was trying to steal the game.

Finally, in Michigan, a teenager had minor injuries after he was knocked over and trampled on in a rush to the electronics department.

For high street shops, Black Friday is the major shopping event, but online shopping also has today, so-called Cyber Monday, which comScore is predicting big things for.

"Last year, Cyber Monday was the heaviest day of online spending ever, with sales exceeding $1bn, and we fully expect to see another record set this year," Fulgoni predicted.®

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