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Black Friday pepper-spray attack injures 20

Other isolated incidents reported during biggest shopping day in U.S.

People shop for electronics during Black Friday sales at the Best Buy store in Westbury, N. Y. on Friday. Bargain hunters flocked to U.S. stores late Thursday and overnight Friday. People shop for electronics during Black Friday sales at the Best Buy store in Westbury, N. Y. on Friday. Bargain hunters flocked to U.S. stores late Thursday and overnight Friday. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

Black Friday, the biggest U.S. shopping day, has taken some unfortunate turns — including at one Los Angeles-area Wal-Mart where a woman allegedly used pepper spray to gain an edge over fellow shoppers and injured 20 people.

The pepper-spray incident happened shortly after the store opened Thursday evening as shoppers prowled the aisles for discounts.

Elsewhere, police in Fayetteville, N.C., were searching for two suspects after gunshots rang out at a local mall early Friday. And two women in upstate New York were facing charges after a fight broke out at a Wal-Mart.

But for the most part, Black Friday has been largely peaceful, with hundreds of people lining up overnight in search of bargains at stores such as Best Buy, Target, and Abercrombie & Fitch, which opened at midnight ET following the U.S. Thanksgiving

Canadian retailers were staging their own Black Friday specials in an effort to slow cross-border shopping.

In New York and St. Petersburg, Fla., reports said shopping areas were busy, with lineups as long as 2,000 people waiting for stores to open. The attraction, of course, was cut-rate prices, some as much as 70 per cent off, often the lowest of the year.

"It's hard times, so, any discount helps," one man told The Associated Press in Seminole, Fla.

He was hoping to land a cheap TV and laptop.

Merchants bank on Black Friday to start the holiday shopping season, when they can make 25 to 40 per cent of their annual revenue. Despite the beleaguered U.S. economy, consumer spending in the holiday season is expected to be almost $500 billion US, about three per cent more than last year.

Lose 1 in 5 shoppers

Canadian retailers were concerned that Canadian shoppers, too, might try to cash in at U.S. shopping outlets along the border. They were expected to try to keep shoppers at home.

Sally Ritchie of the Retail Council of Canada told The Canadian Press she expects stores to aggressively combat the cross-border shopping craze.

She says there will be such things as big discounts and extended store hours to satisfy that need here in Canada.

Canadian retailers can expect to lose one of every five shoppers to U.S. Black Friday-Cyber Monday discounts, with 30 per cent shopping for the holidays, the Globe and Mail reported Friday, citing an Angus Reid poll for UPS Canada.

Since the Canadian dollar rose close to parity, adding to the lure of shopping in the U.S., retailers in Canada began touting their own Black Friday deals.

But that hasn't kept many budget-conscious Canadians from making the trek south.

Bargain hunting in Michigan

Melissa Morang, the marketing and sponsorship director at Great Lakes Crossing Outlets in Auburn Hills, Mich., estimated Canadians occupied 85 per cent of the hotel rooms on the property.

Morang said Canadians were first in line when the mega-mall opened at 9 p.m. Thursday. She said Canadians were also first inside a year ago when, as an experiment, the mall opened its doors at midnight.

"A significant amount of our business [Friday] has been from our Canadian friends," Morang told CBC News early Friday.

Vim Mistry drove down from Burlington, Ont., and stayed with American family about 30 minutes from the Michigan mall.

"Worth the drive? Absolutely. It has been for the last three years. The deals, they’re actually pretty good," she said.

"It’s a complete zoo. It’s been a complete zoo since 12:30 a.m. when we got here."

In the U.S., the Gap was reported to be offering discounts of 20 to 60 per cent on many items.

Old Navy has pea coats for $29 US and jeans for $15. Toys R Us was selling a Transformers Ultimate Optimus Prime action figure for $30 off at $47.99 and a Power Wheels Barbie vehicle for $120 off at $199.99. Best Buy had a $499 42-inch LCD HDTV for $199 and a $400 Asus Transformer 10-inch tablet computer for $249.99.

According to the International Council of Shopping Centers, about 34 per cent of U.S. consumers plan to shop on Black Friday, a rise from 31 per cent last year.

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