Nightly News | November 23, 2012
>>> good evening, we learned a new term this year, you might have heard it, some people were trotting out gray thursday to describe the stores open on thanksgiving day to get a jump on the shopping season that normally begins with black friday today, tonight. and all over the country. while the gray was meant to show the kind of retailing gray area , the black in black friday of course, means in the black positive sales to start off the season. there was a time when this day every year was not the same as injuries, incidents and riots, but it has happened again as americans get all worked up into a shopping frenzy. we begin tonight with courtney reagan at the mall in fairfield in dayton, ohio, good evening.
>> reporter: good evening to you, brian, today marks the unofficial start to the holiday shopping season and it will be one of the longest compared to the past several years. with thanksgiving falling so early, there are two extra days between thanksgiving and christmas, and retailers were hoping that the consumers use the extra time to shop and to spend. after that big thanksgiving meal, this is how shoppers got their exercise. racing down the aisles for early black friday deals.
>> oh, it saves a lot of money.
>> i don't know what i can do damage with, but i'm going to go find out.
>> reporter: braving the lines, the crowds, the fights to the cash register . here in kansas, the girls screamed for the gates to open as if they were at a rock concert . the frenzy started early this year with retailers like walmart, toys "r" us and target, opening their doors on thanksgiving day , hoping to get the 147 million shoppers spending before they go elsewhere. the decision to start black friday early sparked a controversy with target employees posting on-line petitions against working the holiday. and walmart workers protesting this week at dozens of stores as part of a nationwide walkout.
>> we are.
>> reporter: walmart released a statement calling the protests made for tv events, saying the large majority of protesters are not even walmart workers. the stakes are especially high, because black friday kicks off the most important shopping season of the year.
>> on average, we estimate that black friday weekend sales can account for up to 10 or 11% of all holiday sales.
>> reporter: sales are expected to grow a little over 4% this year, slightly below last year's 5 or 6%. on-line sales are expected to stay strong, jumping 12% from last year. stores have been taking advantage of the public's web savvy by offering promotions that lure shoppers in the stores. early signs show that sales are strong.
>> we had the best black friday ever at walmart.
>> reporter: with shoppers snatching up electronics, toys and unexpected items. walmart sold more than 1.8 million towels. whatever they're buying, retailers just hope shoppers keep coming back until christmas day . consumer confidence has been improving over the last several months. and the economists hope it will translate into strong holiday sales. consumer spending makes up 70% of u.s. gdp , so strong holiday sales are crucial for economic growth in the fourth quarter.
>> courtney reagan, busy in dayton, ohio.